Sunday, February 6, 2011

In Dan's Garage...#51

Upstate New York Vol. 2
 Hey everybody! Here in the USA it's "Super Bowl Sunday" which has become a holiday of sorts. While I get totally annoyed by the hype that surrounds it, I do look forward to watching a good competitive match. The halftime show I could do without and that time is usually spent eating. Today we're making chili and it's gonna be good! You may be wondering "why the hell did it take Dan a month to get the last post out and 1 day to get this next one out?" Well, instead of doing the transfers, scans, etc. one post at a time, I did it all at once! Clever eh? Seriously though, this next one is strictly Rochester. That is all the groups featured here were from Rochester or from the nearby suburbs. One of the unique things about our city is that the Genessee river runs right through it,splitting the city in two. This makes for an interesting west side/east side dynamic. The west side (where I was born, raised and still live) was and still is clearly blue collar working class. Kodak was situated there and many of it's workers live nearby. I live within a stones throw of what was once known as "Kodak Park" a facility that had a 25 mile perimeter that ran through the entire northwest side of the city. In it's heyday it was a city within a city. Now that the digital revolution ahs taken over, buildings that manufactured, processed and stored film are either empty, have been leased to other companies, or have been leveled. The east side on the other hand is far more affluent. Doctors, lawyers, sleazy politicians, and all sorts of muckity mucks make their home there. I love talking to people from Fairport, or any of the other burbs on that side of town. When asked where I live I get, "oh that's WAY OVER on the west side", like I lived in some kind of third world country. It's really funny though. When I grew up there was no west or east side. We lived in Rochester. Period. OK, I'm done with part two of my brief history lesson. Let's get on with the records then....

  Catalinas - My Misery / Be Mine (1963)
 If one could use a benchmark for the "Rochester" sound, this would have to be a pretty good example. Fine Recording was established by a Big Band sax player named Vince Giancursio (aka Vince Jan) around 1955. From what I gather this was the only game in town so the vast majority of musical acts from gospel to rock & roll recorded there. Check out the "fine" Fine Recording Studio website here for an in depth peek into what went on there from 1955 till it shut down in 1977. As for the Catalinas, they were an extremely popular group around town and I think had another 45 on Inco records but there's some dispute as to whether it is the same band.

Two Kats And A Kitten - Kit Kat Rock / Perfidia (1957)
 Here's a good one. Obviously a "lounge" act who is trying to cash in on the Rock & Roll craze, it sounds like an accordion player and a drummer with a girl singing along. This one is so hokey that I fall off my chair laughing every time I hear it. Lot's of energy though! I love the "kat" sound effects too. I included the flip "Perfidia" because it's so damn cheesy.

Shorty Prescott's Velvetones - Bring It On Home To Me/ Honky Tonk Today (1963)
It's tough finding good info on some of these locals, and Shorty Prescott is no exception. All I really know is that Shorty had an accordion in the group (real popular instrument here in town I guess) and that this was "produced" at the infamous Fine Recording studio.

Continentals - Cathy's Clown / Maybe Baby (1962)

 Another bunch of locals who recorded at Fine. We have here a couple of real inept renditions of some classics with some most impressive vocals as well. I'm not sure what's up with this 45 but as you can see by the top scan, John gives someone "best wishes" and then he (or someone) proceeds to cross out Continentals and write in "The Accents"!

Bobby Francis - At The Beach / Summer's Coming (1963)
 Not sure if this was recorded here in Rochester, and I'm not even sure if Bobby lived in Rochester at the time. What I do know is, is that Frank Filardo aka "Bobby Francis" is the father of local drummer/musician Rob Filardo who plays in (or played in) about six different bands at once including The Quitters, one of Rochester's best acts.

Don And Tony & The Knighthawks - Lightning (1960)
 Real cool savage instro by Don & Tony who were big on the country circuit around town. Tony Starr had a relatively long running stint on late night public access TV doing his thing at local gigs where he performed with his fur covered Fender Musicmaster and canned backup music. Ahhh...the good old days of late night TV!

Vistas - Moon Relay / No Return (1963)
 Whoa dad!!!! This wild surf instrumental is pretty hard to beat even by west coast standards, and holds it's own with California's best offerings. I can see guys at Charlotte Beach waiting for those massive two footers to come in while this is blasting in the background. Look out for those dead fish dude!!!! 

Steve Alaimo & The Redcoats - Blue Fire (1960)
 Here's Steve Alaimo once again this time doing somewhat of a pop/lounge type thing with a definite exotic twinge to it.

Gene Cornish & The Unbeetables - I Wanna Be A Beetle / Oh Misery (1964)
 One of hundreds, if not THOUSANDS of Beatles "answer" records released in 1964 designed to capitalize on Beatlemania. I think Gene's effort was a pretty good one though. The A side is kinda goofy (Like a teddy bear?) but the B side is a fantastic take on all the cool Beatles cliches. This one reminds me a bit like "Don't Bother Me"

Invictas - The Detroit Move / Shake A Tail Feather (1966)
 I believe this was the last 45 issued by the Invictas on Sahara Records (or any other label for that matter) and is a superb example of what they were doing in '65/'66. They were without a doubt the most popular "garage" act in Rochester at the time.....

Vic Pernell & The Hangmen - Live For Today / Sad Boy (1966)

I don't have the entire story on this bunch, but I think The Hangmen were a local teen combo who were kind of hornswaggled into backing up this Vic Pernell guy. I think the results were great and I wished The Hangmen had made a 45 on their own. Recorded at Fine (natch).

Heard - Stop It Baby / Laugh With The Wind (1966)
 OK.Call me a homer for being from Rochester and blah, blah, blah, but for many years I have considered "Stop It Baby" to be the absolute epitome of everything a garage/punk 45 should be. Raunchy guitars, snotty vocals, a wild stop-go tempo, KILLER guitar AND harp solos. All of you garage punkers out there can make your case for other tunes, but for my money THIS IS THE REAL SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!

Church Mice - College Psychology On Love / Babe, We Are Not Part Of Society (1965)
 Quite possibly one of the crudest 45's ever recorded. Right up there with "Green Fuz" and "Leave My House". The Church Mice were led by local music store owner Armand Schaurbroeck who in fact established the The House Of Guitars, quite possibly the greatest music store on earth, and I"m serious about that. There is no place like it anywhere. As for the 45, it it's not only crude, but it's probably one of the first "underground" records beating guys like The Fugs and The Velvet Underground to the punch by at least a year.

Darelycks - Bad Trip / Wait  For Me (1966)
 Another great garage 45 recorded at Fine. The Derelycks were from nearby Fairport (an "east side" suburb) and were rather obscure, although they managed to record this great 45 at Fine. A nice interview with guitarist Steve Lareau can be found on the website.

America's Childern - Blow On / New World (1968)
 Our last entry in this post is by a group I know nothing about. Obviously they were a bunch of wannabe hippies doing a sort of "progressive" Mamas and Papas thing, but real lo-fi like, you know what I mean? Meh. Maybe not. Anyway I suspect they may have been from Irondequoit, an adjacent suburb to the city.


  1. Thanks Dan! Enjoy your Super-Bowl Sunday. I will enjoy this wonderful music!

  2. Ha, from the incredibly bad to really good. This is great stuff. Thanks Dan.

  3. Greetings from sunny Florida where the Guinness and Genny Cream Ale is flowing smoothly out of the taps at Peggy O'Neil's. Re: Vistas and "west coast standards" of surf music. Of course terms like "surf" and "garage" weren't coined until long after the fact, but what became known as "surf" just may have been born in New England and not California. Dick Dale's Let's Go Trippin' is often credited as being the first "surf" record. It was recorded in the summer of 1961 and although it has a surf title, the music bears little resemblance to what would become the surf sound. Go back to the previous summer and I would say the rhythm guitar of the Ventures Walk - Don't Run sounds much surfier than anything on Let's Go Trippin'. However, before that was the Rhythm Rockers "Madness" recorded in the winter of 1960. That song is found on many comps and has so many elements of the surf sound. From the chop-chop-chop-pause-chop rhythm to the boom-boom-boom-ba-da-boom-boom-boom tom toms to the Peter Gunn-esque theme. Anyways, those guys were from the Boston-Worcester area. I think one of them ended up being an exec at Epic. Anyone know of any similar sounding records older than that one? Ironically, Dick Dale didn't hit the beaches of SoCal until he was old enough to drive. Before that he grew up in the Boston area. In fact, for awhile he went to the same high school I did although he was there in the early 50's and I was there in the late 60's.

  4. Thanks Dan. I've got a beautify copy of the Churchmice Picture Sleeve but alas, no 45. Maybe someday!

  5. Well, I feel like we already know each other and probably we do. I grew up in Fairport and am a lifelong friend of Steve Lareau of The Darelycks (and also a former member with Steve of the re-constituted Darelyx that were together from 1979-80 but only have a couple bad cassettes to out name). Also in original Darelycks were the late John Tiberio on drums & vocals, Tom Pomponio on bass and the last guy's name escapes me right now. I own one of two extant acetates of this 45. Bad Trip/Wait For Me has also appeared on a German Compilation of psych 45s courtesy of mutual friend and Chesterfield King front man Greg Prevost.

    I've got a little to add here and there.

    The Hangmen ALSO featured Tom Bittle on guitar who's still around, though he may have retired again from music after a bit of a disappointment. Too bad; I have demos of his most recent stuff that was just great.. He twiddled the knobs on a live demo my band 'Don't Call Me Junior' did 30 years ago. If I'm not mistaken former WCMF-FM disc jockey Bernie Kimball was also a member at the time of THIS 45. There was one more 45 on a red label (sorry all my local 45s got sold off to Tom Kohn at the Bop Shop 20 years ago).
    I played the Country circuit for a while in the 80s and got to see Tony once or twice and played in a band with his ex-wife Elaine who was a hell of a great vocalist and bass player (loved her Tele-Bass!).
    I saw America's Children twice; more like The Serendipity Singers or The New Christy Minstrels...they did at LEAST one local LP, then got signerd to Warner Bros and did one LP on Warners then broke up(changing times, Bad or no sales except locally I bet)lead man Pete....went solo, saw him several times in coffeehouses; was an early influence on me when I started playing gfuiatr in the folk scare of the mid-60s. How'd you get a 1969 date? if so, I bet it was AFTER the Warners LP? Maybe?
    The Heard was mostly the Wheat family, Jeff Wheat(guitar, vocals), Randy Wheat(Bass, Vocals), Brad Wheat(Guitar, Vocals) and Pete Genovese(drums). I agree. 'Stop It Baby/Laugh With The Wind' are two stone classic local 45s, probably the best Rochester EVER produced in the 'garage' mode before the Showstoppers (Columbia), Brass Buttons (Cotillion) & Rustix (Chess, Rare Earth/Motown) came along.Pete's still around, sadly Brad and Randy are no longer with us. mGreat talents. Jeff is out on the West Coast and has been in Hollywood for years working TV and Films. He also has links to Rain & Shivers which certainly deserve a second look in Rochester. Why doesn't someone re-release the Rain Live LP on CD? ...and get Jeff to release the UNRELEASED Shivers LP I heard acetate demos of many years ago before he moved out west...all I remember is their version of the Kinks "Victoria" with flanging last time around on chorus...
    Seems to me he was also involved with the Oxford Watch Band who cut one promo only 45 for a shoprt lived Capitol subsidiary...something like "Welcome to the World"...very nice psychedelic sound well produced
    Hope I haven't been repeating stuff you have already posted.

  6. Mike, Excellent history lesson! You are probably correct in stating that "surf" music had it's origins in the Ventures and elsewhere, my point was that the Vistas captured that reverb drenched tone that was so prevalent in many of So Cal's recordings from the early 60s. While we're on the subject of the "surf" sound, let us not forget the fabulous Trashmen from land locked Minnesota, and The Astronauts who were from Colorado no less!

  7. Duncan, thanks for all the fantastic local info, and yes we do know each other somewhat. We are Facebook pals and I'm certain we've crossed paths at one time or another.

  8. Hi Dan,
    ..... 250+ songs???? and heaps of diamonds still uncomped and beauties that have escaped even the Rockin' Rochester-series (was that your job, btw?) absolutely breathteaking! can't wait for the next sequels, much appreciated here!

    hugh thx as always!

  9. Just a little more info on the America's Children 45... The 1969 date I posted was wrong. It should be 1968. The info I got (here comes the geek talk folks) is on the record itself. The matrix number on the label shows it was pressed by RCA, and begins with the letter 'W' which in this case denotes a 1968 pressing date. It's possible that it was recorded much earlier but I can't say for sure. Hope this clears things up a bit.

  10. Michael, thank you for the compliments! The Rockin' Rochester job was not mine, but my good friend Chuck Ciriello's work. I hoping he may contribute to the blog in the future.

  11. Greetings from Bobby Francis, who is alive and well, retired from performing and living in the Greater Rochester area. Thanks for the mention. The two sides, At the Beach/Summer’s Comin’ were recorded at Dynamic International studios on Northhampton Street, Buffalo, NY in 1964. Bob Lee (Brewster), keyboards; Abe Blassingame, drums; James Polk, bass; Ed Bently, guitar. Ven Pitoni, owner of CENTAUR Records, who was responsible for mastering, producing and promoting the 45, was from Rochester. At that same time, Pitoni had another Rochester area pop performer on the CENTAUR label: 13 year old Veronica Lee (Galusha), who realesed a 45 entitled “Ringo Did It.” “At the Beach” didn’t really catch on back then probably because of the Beatle Invasion; or maybe pop fans wouldn’t buy the idea of an Upstate New Yorker pushing the Surfer sound. As a post script, we’ve just released a retrospective CD entitled AT THE BEACH: Bobby Francis and the Phantoms. It’s on my son’s (Rob Filardo) label, Garage Pop Records. The PHANTOMS, incidentally, recorded two sides at Vince Jan’s Fine Recording Studios in 1960. Neither one was ever released.

  12. Bobby, Thanks so much for for the comment! I was always confused about the origins of that 45 since there was also a Centaur records out of Chicago (The New Colony Six were on it). The info on your other groups as well as Veronica Lee is very cool. I haven't heard the retrospective CD yet, but I'll bet it's real happening. I know your son Rob fairly well so the next time I see him around, I'll have to get him to sell me or better yet GIVE me) a copy. Thanks again, it's great to hear from you!

  13. I wonder if Tony Starr had anything to do with the Capitol Star Artists label, just noticed he autographed my Cavemen 45. Just happened to do a search on his name.

    Chuck C

  14. Re: the Bobby Francis 45 -
    I don't know those guys, except Eddie Bentley (sp? - this is correct, I think). Buffalo guitarist with too many connections to mention, but you can Google him. Rockabilly Hall Of Fame/ wrote (and probably played on) the Glee label 45 by Ted Russell and the Rhythm Rockers (Wade Curtiss); Kathy Lynn & The Playboys - which means also under the Rockin' Rebels name; and in the late 60s, Motown and other Detroit labels. And his own music store.

    Also, I wonder if THIS label CENTAUR Records is the reason the Chicago CENTAUR had to change it's name to Sentar?

    1. Not sure about the Centaur deal myself. I thought it was the same label for a while. Thanks for the input and contribution, it's great to hear from people involved or acquainted with all the bands featured here.

  15. Hi. I wrote before, but as a way of introduction, I'm a collector/dealer from Buffalo area. Local records are one of my main collecting obsessions. Couple things...
    America's Children had one other local release, on Audition, I think. Typical folk, like all of their stuff, except the Ronquoit 45, which I found to have an interesting production and folkrock touches.
    I doubt that Tony Starr had anything to do with the Cavemen who's story and origins are well-known locally; they were teens from Cheektowaga. Why TS would have signed a Cavemen 45 is anybody's guess, except they were label-mates. Speaking of signed records, I have a 45 by the Angry Men (not to be confused with the Angry Young Men) which is signed by the members a,d one of the prominent signatures is 'Bittle'. You mention Tom Bittle as a member of the Hangmen, I'm assuming it's the same guy.
    Last thing- a question: which, if ANY, Steve Alaimo records were issued locally? I thought his early ones were but interent info seems to indicate that he moved away at 18, and didn't form the Redcoats until he left. I have the feeling this is not exactly true but can't get definite info. Thanks, Bob P

    1. Hi Bob,
      thanks for weighing in on my blog. I'm certain that America's Children also had a 45 on Audition. I've had that thing in my hands at least a half dozen times but never bought it! I'm not sure about the Tony Starr / Cavemen reference. I know that Don & Tony & The Knighthawks had a 45 on "Star Artists", as did the Cavemen, but I don't think there's any relationship between the name of the label and Tony Starr. There's actually several other 45s by different groups on the same label. The Angry Young Men 45 is pretty good, although a bit lightweight in my opinion, but I don't think I mentioned anything about Tom Bittle in my blog. Perhaps there's another blog that references this 45??? As far as I know, the ONLY Steve Alaimo 45 that was local was "The Girl Can't Help It" on Lifetime, which was a local label. I know he had a slew of others on a bunch of different labels. Thanks again for writing. Any good record stores in the Buffalo area, and are they still having record shows in Depew?????

    2. This is Chuck C. There's an article on another Rochester Angry Young Men, these are not the guys with the mellow 45.

      There's one Redcoats 45, not listing Steve Alaimo, but he is a co-writer on one of the songs, possible it pre-dates the Lifetime 45. I suspect, he may have traveled back and forth to Florida a bit when he was in college.

    3. Hey Chuck, I've seen that article in It is a very nice website. Let me know if you'd like to get together and do a "guest spot" on this blog. It would be very cool.........

  16. The above mentioned Sad Boy/Live for Today recording featuring The Hangmen on Sad Boy consisted of high school kids, including Vic Pernell from Monroe High School. Disc jockeys at WBBF picked Live for Today as the A side. Vic wanted The Hangmen to feature one of their songs, providing a recording opportunity thery did not have to pay for. They were not hornswagled by any means. Vic went on join the Marines and went on to face combat in Vietnam. Some comments referred to Vic as an older guy. He was 16 when the songs were recorded.

    1. Thanks for the info and more insight on these songs! We're grateful for any comments that shed light on these lost classics. Thanks again!!!