ST. LOUIS - In a small backyard studio, you can find recording equipment, talented musicians, and a whole lot of compassion. Sidetrack Studios has been a home away from home for St. Louis area talent ever since Mike Ehrhard opened it up.
"I had a couple of rooms that were vacant and I built a little studio," said Ehrhard.
They'll come here to work on one project or another. Although lately, it's actually been just one project.
"Musicians are a breed and we try to take care of each other," explained vocalist Ron McDonnell."When someone calls, we go."
Today they're laying down the final tracks of an album composed by a local songwriter. They're finishing the work because he no longer can. Fifty-six-year-old Paul Orso has ALS.
"I noticed that I started walking with a limp," Orso recalled.
The symptoms started almost three years ago. Orso was an avid marathoner and a successful businessman who married his high school sweetheart. The diagnosis was devastating.
"It took our breath away and life just stopped right there," said Paul's wife Kathy.
Also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, ALS is a rapidly progressive neuromuscular disease and there is no cure. But feeling sorry for himself is not in Paul Orso's nature.
"Yeah, he's polyanna with testosterone," laughed Kathy.
So with Kathy's encouragement, Orso decided to face the music. Literally. He's been writing songs since he was 12-years-old with subjects like life, laughter, and love. One of his songs is called "There's Always a Thought."
When asked if the song was written for someone in particular, Orso jokingly responded, "I was dating a girl at the time."
He's been married to that girl for 36 years. Now with time casting its heavy shadow, Kathy thought it was about time to get those songs recorded.
"So he came over," Ehrhard remembered, "and he said well I probably have two years to live; I'm like, what?"
Ehrhard not only opened up the doors to his studio, he helped recruit other local musicians.
"Oh my gosh, they're beautiful people," Kathy said.
While he was still strong, Orso recorded his voice and then, together, they all produced the soundtrack of his life.
The name of the album is "Beyond Words," and for the Orsos, it truly is.
"I just had chills from my head, top of my hair, to the bottom of my toes," Kathy said.
"It's an incredible thing and it exceeds anything I could have ever imagined," Paul added.
Making music and making a difference. It may never reach the top of the charts but this is one album that's already hit all the right notes.
"You know he'll live on forever," Kathy said. "He'll live forever in that music."
For more information on Paul Orso's music, visit his website.