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.

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.

This year, 2019, we played the Albion Strawberry Festival and the Brockport Arts Festival.

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.

Here’s to 2014 version at the Albion Strawberry festival:


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Your Mama Don’t Dance


Last Night


Further On Up the Road


Messing With the Kid


Zaks Pack at Argyle – 2008