Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Rastus....The Ann Arbor Sessions!

It was early in the morning when we (Rastus) arrived at the SRC Studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The band had come from Cleveland, Ohio in several different cars with Jim Cantale driving the van with most of the equipment. I drove in from Detroit.

The summer of 1968 proved to be a scorcher as the band selected the various rooms which would be their home for the next ten days.

Angelo Crimi and Mike Geraci selected the drum room as it was the only room in the house which had air-conditioning. The rest of the band found rooms upstairs and began to make themselves comfortable.

"I'm going to Piggly Wiggly."

As this process was occurring, Bocky decided that it was time to get some groceries from across the street at the supermarket. This was a venture which I will not describe due to it's heinous nature but I will say that this was one of the most outrageous acts I have ever witnessed. Unfortunately I saw what poverty will reap in situations such as these. At the time this act was quite humorous. Bocky had a gift....a gift which would eventually cause him to be dismissed from the band.

Rastus was, even in the early stages, running on empty and had to rely on chicanery just to survive. All the members of Rastus were survivors and had resigned themselves to the fact that they would do anything to continue playing music together.

The tape starts rolling.

As we settled into the recording process, we established the living room as the horn room (Mike Geraci, Vic Walkuski and John Taylor and Don Nagy on trumpet) since it was the largest. Don Nagy (bass) was allocated a small room off the living room and Tony Corrao (guitar) was placed in an opposing room also off the living room. Smoky set up the drums in the "all black" drum room that was nearly sound-proof I mentioned earlier....air-conditioned. He would certainly need it for those ten days.

The only connections for the group were headphones and the talk-back system which I used to communicate with the band.

We ran through the songs for the first two days while, at the same time, getting levels set to the recorder which was a four-track Crown. We had very little EQ and for echo, a spring reverb unit which worked quite well. On the third day we began to record. The demos presented here are off the original 2 track mixes I made after we were finished recording, so the quality is superb.

On the fourth or fifth day of recording, I was over-dubbing Tony Corrao on guitar when I heard strange noises coming through Tony's mic. I stopped the tape and asked Tony what he was doing to make those "scratching" sounds. He answered saying he wasn't doing anything and that the noise was coming from the wall. We all went to look at the wall from where the noises were emitting. The noises were loud enough to be picked up by the mic some ten feet away. After careful examination, we discovered a mother Raccoon and five babies living in the wall of the old farmhouse. Tony was freaked! Being a city boy, he had never witnessed a live Raccoon before. We made sure we recorded in that room after the mother and babies had gone out for their meals. No sense in upsetting the family with a lot of loud music.

It was in this setting we recorded Rastus' first efforts. All these demos are now available for sale on the Rastus' Ann Arbor Sessions sales page. We will be posting much more material in the following weeks so stay tuned. Please let us know what you think of the site and give us suggestions on how we may improve.

This "is" the official Rastus site! Accept no substitutes.

Rastus....The Legend Lives!

John Rhys

Click here to listen to....Rastus....The Ann Arbor Sessions!

Click here to go to the Rastus download page!