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.

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 my brother Mike for Mike P. on drums. I think that’s when my brother went back to play with Black Sheep.

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 or two later my brother was with Black Sheep and 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.

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