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.
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. 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