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 push 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.
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 – (pic is from the first iteration – Jerry Garcia, top left, was replaced with Dana Gregory about 6 months in).
Gasoline & Matches
Angel From Montgomery