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 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.

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