Musically Speaking

When I was 13 or 14 my sister got this idea to record her kids while they were young. With this in mind she bought a Wollensak 1/4″ tape recorder. This was a great idea – only she had no clue how to operate it. But you need to realize it was a different world then – you didn’t just pusWollensakRevere3h the button. Being technically capable back then I learned how to use it and started recording all kinds of things. Being in bands I found the perfect thing to do with it. I remember carrying that thing from where I lived on Brian St down to Ridge Rd – to the 414 Club because there was a new group in town – The Show Stoppers. A great group, an instant hit in the area. I don’t remember all the members but at the time I recorded them Bat McGrath and Don Potter where in the group. So one night I drag it down to the 414, set it up on one of the tables and ran a plug over to the wall. It was such a new thing to do nobody questioned it – it was a curiosity thing. I would drag that thing everywhere.

It wasn’t a great machine compared to today I can take my iPad and get a better quality recording – but for the times it was way cool. At one point it developed a squeal – there was a felt pad that held the recording tape against the recording head. That developed a squeal that if you pressed on it it would go away for a bit. But, it always came back. So some of the recordings have that in there. I’ve tried filtering it out but it’s in the totally wrong frequency range. After music discoed out and the family started I was at Kodak and as luck would have it ended up running the Magnetics Lab working with tape of all kinds and sizes.

Some of the later records get a bit better but the majority are with the old Wollensak. A couple years ago when doing another “cleaning” of the garage I ran across my box of tapes. Hadn’t thought about them in years. I thought I check them out and see if they were any good. Talk about oldies but moldies – some of the tapes were actually moldy. During my divorces they spent a few years in my brother Mikes barn, then in various garages.

The Galaxies

The Galaxys was our first real band. I was 12 years old, my Brother Mike was 10. We started the band with 2 brothers from down at the west end of Brian St – Dick and Bob Miller. When we started this group Mike played drums and I was playing bass – more so because we needed a bass. I had a Sears amplifier with 2 12″ speakers and a Silvertone guitar. So what do you do if you’re the bass player and you have a regular guitar – I would crank the bass way up and the treble way down to make it sort of sound like a bass guitar. Bob played lead and Dick played rhythm. I think Bob had a Stratocaster and Dick had a Telecaster or maybe the other way around. I do remember somewhere along the line we stripped and painted Dicks guitar candy apple red – it was the early 60’s and the hot rod stuff from California was finally hitting the east coast. Dick eventually bought a Country Gentleman. Our’s and my first real band job was playing at Bullwinkle’s Bar on Lake Avenue owned by Betty Meyers. Actually we got the job because my Aunt Sis worked there and new Betty well, or that’s what we thought. That store turned out way deeper but that’s for a later date. I think we got $5 each for it. After that we played around at the teen dances in our neighborhood. Thinking we were going to be the next rock and roll stars we saved some money up and recorded a record at Vince Jan Studios on St. Paul St in Rochester. I’m thinking it was something like $60 for the recording time and a bunch of 45’s. It was SO Cool. We got the pizza place across from Aquinas High school to put it on the juke box. Because they weren’t real pressings they didn’t last many plays and had to be changed out regularly – we went through 3 or 4 copies – mainly because we played it all the time when we went there. The songs we did were Sleep Walk by Santos and Johnny and Walkin The Dog. I think Vince was pretty experienced with up and coming rock stars – he told us to run through a couple tunes to warm up. We didn’t know till after the warm up that we were being recorded. And then when listening back to them in the STUDIO at his suggestion those became the sides for the 45. I still have a working copy that I’ll transcribe and put up here. I think back about what we did at 10 and 12 years old and am pretty impressed with us – practicing, learning how to put together pa systems and such and then going out and getting the jobs. I somehow didn’t electrocute myself when fixing up junk pa amplifiers – back then there were no transistors – they were all tube amps with 300 – 400 volts on the tubes. I ended up becoming the “repair guy” at Duke Spinners when he was at the corner of Dewey Ave and Driving Park. Pretty neat.

The Majestics

The Majestics  – no connection with the group called The Majestics that’s around to day. We were in the 13-15 year old range. One of the only groups I don’t have a recording of. My friend, now passed away, Dominic Spironza was the singer. I also remember getting driven to Syracuse by the bass players (Joe ???) mother (I was back on guitar then) to do a the local teen TV Show. Big time.

The Show Stoppers

I wasn’t in this group but it was one of the early recordings I made. It was a great group. I recorded them at the 414 Club on Ridge Rd west in Rochester. They were a great sounding group and were packing the 414 club. Too bad the recording wasn’t better. We didn’t drive then so I walked the recorder from Bryan Street to Ridge Rd to record them. I ask the bartender if I could set it up on one of the tables near a plug and he said – sure, go ahead. As I remember they first got to town they had a drummer Joey D (?) – I think he sang Papas Got  A Brand New Bag, Then Bat McGrath sang the Beatles type songs. I remember Don Potter doing an excellent Georgia by Ray Charles.

Papas Got A Brand New Bag


Kansas City

You’ve Been Telling Lies

The Vistas

It was 1963 when I joined the group Dave Smith (whom I heard went on to be at Fender in some management capacity) was just leaving to go to college I think. Leaving behind Jim Meyers on Bass, Butch Biaca on Guitar, Dennis Marinelle on Drums and so I was asked to join them on the Hammond, at that time a Model A and we had Dave Hucks doing lead vocal. Here’s a few I recorded at Al’s Stand. It was on Emerson St, Across from Jefferson High School. Best known for it’s Itailian Sausage’s and the best lemon ice ever. The final incarnation of the Vistas included Dallas Kidd on guitar. We played at The Farm in Victor quite often one summer.

Just Treat Her Right


For Your Love

Sha La La La La


The Denis Marinelli 11 minute drum solo


Summertime


Ooh Poo Pa Doo

Jacobs Downtown Trolly

Jacobs Downtown Trolley – JDT – was a group that went through a couple versions. We played a few places around town – Ronnies Suburban Inn – it was at the corner of East River Road and Jefferson – quite a bit. Also did a good stint at the Pittsford Tavern at the four corner in Pittsford. My brother Mike Bonafede was our drummer for a while. Tom Porpiglia was on guitar most of the time and is the one in the recordings. My ex-wife was the lead singer along with Louie ?.  A few of the better quality recordings below were done at an all night dance for Muscular Distrophy that we played I think 12 to 3am slot.

Johnny Be Goode


One Way Out


Listen To The Music


Changes


Seems To Me

The Here Below

The Here Below was somewhat of an in between group  of various incarnations. The one in these recording consisted of myself, my brother Mike on drums and a Bill Gillian on guitar. This was recorded at the East Bloomfield Hotel on New Years Eve, We booked the job for New Years a month or more in advance. When we got there there was nobody there but the bartender/owner and a couple regulars sitting at the bar. Turns out the owner forgot to advertise that after being closed News Years for a few years he was now going to be open again. Nobody showed up. The owner said we didn’t have to play – but we wouldn’t be paid. We said we wanted to get paid – he said – “OK, play the night then.” And we did. We played in the dining side of the bar till 1:00 am to absolutely nobody. That’s also the place where Mike noticed the cockroaches crawling in and out of the open mayonnaise jar on the counter. Needless to say we only ate bagged chips that night.

Jumping Jack Flash

Evil Ways

Heat Wave & stuff

Greenwhich Mean

Geenwhich Mean – These recordings where done at a practice session we had. On Lake Ave near State St and Lyell Ave was a Pawn Shop where I worked. The owner was a guy named Sam Cash, no idea what his real name was. His brother, The General, was the manager of the Italian American Card Club that was next door. The upper floors of the building weren’t used so Sam said we could practice up on the second floor. So we would carry the Hammond, the 122 Leslie, the Drums and all the other equipment up to this dilapidated apartment on the second floor for practice. The group was myself, my brother Mike, John Conti on bass and the only other name I remember right now is Lex Byers. Lex went on to be the lead singer in the Coup D’villes – a great group still going strong in the area. We later changed out Mike for Mike P. on drums. I remember one weekend we were playing in Lake George at a Dude Ranch. We used to use these stage lights that I had made. Of course back then there were no computers or solid state controllers so I made them using all 110v wiring and had panel of switches and a variac to so they could be dimmed and turned on and off. The problem with it was you could only dim one circuit at a time – more than one and it would overheat the wiring. A long time friend of mine, Dave Roberts, came along with us and ran the lights. Somewhere between the beer and pills picked up in the park downtown that afternoon he got the thing all screwed up. In middle of one song we smell smoke and look over at Dave staring at a burning control panel. Just a bit exciting. I repaired the lights and I think it was about a year later my brother was with Black Sheep. They were using the lights while on the road until they were in the truck accident that came at the end of the Black Sheep existence.

Try  a Little Tenderness

You Don’t Know How I Feel

You Don’t Know Like I Know

Sing A Different Song

Delta Lady

I Feel Good

More Than You’ll Ever Know

Gunthers Bus

Gunthers Bus was formed in late 1967. We practiced at the at the Auditorium Theater on Main St in Rochester. I don’t remember the practice being more than a few weeks before we had our first night out at Duffy’s Hotel which was in the triangular building at the corner of St. Paul, Bittner St and the ramps to the inner loop. The first night of opening week we pulled up in Gunthers actual bus – where the name Gunthers Bus came from. At that time the band included myself on organ, Art Foti, Jerry Cummings, Tom Bittle and Joe Dasheneau. I was only with them a couple months and then left when I got the offer to join The Fabulous Furys.

Hold On


Massachusetts

Your A  Holiday

Getting Together

The Fabulous Furys

The Furys – I placed an ad in the paper and got a call from The Fabulous Fury’s. They were a group from the Pavilion/Leroy area. They had recently gotten a job at The Varsity Inn in Geneseo. It was owned by the same brothers (Jack & Bob Friel) that owned The Varsity Inn on Scottsville Rd. I went out for an audition and joined the band. We lasted over 2 years there playing Friday & Saturday nights and sometimes a teen dance on Sunday. For a B3 player it was a great job – didn’t have to move the equipment. I think we may have moved it once or twice, I vaguely remember doing a wedding maybe in Mumford or Caledonia. Here’s The Fury’s doing Jackie Wilsons – I Don’t Want to Lose You. The vocal is a bit distorted.


I Don’t Want to Lose You

The members included Me, Richie Meyers on lead guitar, John Meyers on drums and Dave Zascoda on bass and sometimes trumpet. For a short while we brought in a couple horn players – I think the trumpet player was Paul Burgio and there was an alto sax player, but I don’t remember his name. Somewhere toward the end of the stint with them we started talking about getting a few jobs at other places – but that meant someone had to go out and get the jobs. My ex-wife and I took a trip up toward the Thousand Islands and stopped at as many bars and clubs as we could on the way and with a cassette tape player would go in and try to get booked. I would go in and play the tape and then ask for any open dates. Up at a club in the Thousand Island area I hit a winner – they had a new up and coming group coming in and needed an opening act. The guy said he liked the tape and I was there at the right time – we could have the job. I went back and told them and they said it was too far to drive to play one night. That really sucked – the group was Earth, Wind and Fire.

And When I Die


I Don’t Want to Lose You Now


Get Back


God Bless The Child

 

Who’s Makin Love To Your Old Lady


I Love Your More Each Day

More And More

You Don’t Know What I Know

ZaksPack - PrattPack

First formed in 1998 by Leon “Corky” Zak (the Zak in ZaksPak) and Mike Bonafede. Leon’s at every show and most always drags along his little brother Mike on drums. We’ve gone thru a bunch of incarnations since the core group first formed. With Leon “Corky” Zak being the Zak in ZaksPak  and Zaks Pack – we use both depending on what gets typed. We also go as Pratt Pack – after the Pratt building Mike and his wife Judy have restored. I’m at every show and most always drag along my brother Mike. Our first band we started when I was 12 and he was 10 – The Galaxies with the Miller brothers – Bob and DIck  – our first job was at Bullwinkles Bar in Rochester, NY. So Zakspack let’s us continue to play together. George Conte came on board way back at the beginning on trumpet and vocal. Mark Ketchum came some years later on saxophone.

Depending on who we’ve met and may have played with we bring in other players to end up with a 6 to 8 piece group. The idea is to enjoy playing together. Here’s a few samples of various incarnations. Visit http://zakspack.com for more.

Your Mama Don’t Dance

 

Last Night

 

Further On Up the Road

 

Messing With the Kid

 

 

Justin Crossett Band

This group is based out of Holley NY, I’m not sure of  the exact years, I think I first joined them in 2012. We didn’t play out a lot and at very many places but I loved the tunes this group did. A good mixture of Stevie Ray, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi and other like that. We played the Medina Tavern – a great local bar – almost nobody there when we started and by 11:30 it was packed and stayed that way till 1 AM. We also played the Holley Gazebo by the canal for the last 5 years in August. Stat at 7 and play till you can’t stand the mosquitoes anymore. Members  – of course Justin Crossett on guitar, Mike Zona on bass, Zach on drums and me on keys.

It’s Just Not My Cross to Bear

 

Empty Arms

 

Couldn’t Stand The Weather

 

Chase the Rainbow

Bordertown Country Rock

Bordertown Country Rock was my chance to dip my toes into country music. I had never been in a country band and thought it would be fun for a while – which it was. I had seen an ad on Craigs List for a keyboard player. I had a lot of fun with Bordertown and met some great people – a few I still play with. When I first joined we had Barry Case on bass, Phil Kruger on guitar, Dan on guitar, John on drums and three lead singers – Krista, John and Sara. John was the first to leave to put his energy into his other groups and we replaced with JP Bracy. Next Sara left and was replaced with Darcy. That configuration played out the most. JP and Krista (Hartwig) and I did the Krista Hartwig group along side of Bordertown. Here’s a few tunes recorded in my studio. The vocalists are Krista, JP and Sara.

I’ve Given Up on Love

Just What I Do

Baggage Claim

Country Girl Shake It For Me

Krista Hartwig Band

The Krista Hartwig band started as a little trio project with Me, Krista and JP from Bordertown. It was group to have a good time, which we did. We still do a thing here and there when asked, mostly benefits.

Rainbow Connection

Always Steal My Kisses

House of the Rising Sun

McKain Miller Band

About the same time that I was starting the Hey Red Band with Beth from the short lived Soul On Tap I got a call from Jerry Garcia – the drummer that left SOT just before the first gig. He was in a new project and they needed a keyboard player. Hey Red wasn’t really started yet – we hadn’t found Mike Dydra (guitar) yet, so I thought I go see what Jerry had going. It was similar to Hey Red but different. The same genre of music but a very different song list. It included Bob Miller (Blue Avengers, Fat City) on Guitar & Vocal, Chris McKain (The Chris McKain Band) on Vocal, Richie Simbari (Blue Avengers) on Bass and of course Jerry Garcia was on Drums. It was late fall when we started and we had a rough time getting out of the basement. The flu seemed to hit a different person each week, life things came into play and then (there’s a theme here maybe) Jerry quit. But this time the group continued and we got Dana Gregory (Krypton 88, Jasper) on drums. One thing that makes this group different from Hey Red is that we do about a half dozen original songs written by Bob Miller. In this line up 707 is a Bob Miller tune –

Gasoline & Matches

Hangin On

Tumbling Dice


707

Angel From Montgomery

The Hey Red Band

The Hey Red Band came about because another band that just made it out of the basement dis-banded (pun intended). I had joined Doug Kanter (Bass) and Jerry Garcia (Drums) in their group Soul On Tap. They also had Beth Steele on vocals and Ray Belizia on guitar. We practiced over at Dougs place for a couple months. And then Jerry decided he want to go do something else and then we got our first gig – a party held at at house on Lake Ontario. We got Julias Veranti to fill in on the drums. I thought it was a great layout – warm weather, afternoon gig. The people were having such a good time they asked us to play another hour. But, something didn’t click for Doug and it being his group, he decided he didn’t want to continue. Bummer – because in the meantime we got another gig – again near water – at the Irondiquoit Rod & Gun Club. We decided to do the job – our 2nd and last. That to was a nice gig – out on the deck of the club overlooking the the bay. Some good did come of it – after a couple weeks I called Beth up and asked if she was interested in starting something seeing as we had put all that work into getting the tunes together for Soul On Tap. A couple phone calls and a meeting here and there and Hey Red was formed. We’ve got Beth as the main singer, myself on keys, Bruce Diamond on bass, Bruce Hylan on drums and Mike Dydra on guitar. You can check out the band’s web site at http://heyredband.com. Here’s some tunes recorded in my music room – hopefully you’ll notice that over the 30 years my recordings have gotten a bit better –

Bad Case of Love


Little By Little


Are Your Ready For Love


Son of a Preacher Man


Angel From Montgomery


Midnight Hour – Knock on Wood