So what's the deal with Smart Studios now? Is it closed, as was announced in 2010, or what? I asked the guy who still has the keys, longtime Smart engineer and producer Mike Zirkel. He said it is closed. Sort of.
Zirkel had just celebrated his 23rd birthday when he was handed his copy of the key to Smart Studios in 1994. He served as Butch Vig's intern in the early days and over time became a chief engineer and producer. He won't miss the nightmare of paying the studio bills. "MG&E will miss our patronage."
The studio lights are dimming. After finishing a couple of last projects, Zirkel will close the space for good by May 1. A studio in L.A. has purchased nearly all of Smart's gear, including the biggest piece, a vintage Trident A-Range console.
The very last music that will pass through the soundboard at Smart Studios, Madison? That of the local alt-folk quartet Count This Penny.