Rowayton Music Header
Back to home
Rowayton Music
Three Bands
Rowayton Music Links
Chapter 1 - Blue Light
Chapter 2 - Dave's Room
Chapter 3 - Airfix
Chapter 4 - Blue Monday
Chapter 5 - The Boston Years
Chapter 6 - The December Projects
Chapter 7 - Pinkney Park
Chapter 8 - Grass Roots
Chapter 9 - The Albums
October Palace
Leftovers and Other Exotic Foods
New Shoes
Chapter 10

Chapter 3 Airfix


“Today came so quickly, I looked away and it was gone”




Dave and I formed Airfix probably in early June of 1972 with Ed Flinn. I had known Ed through hanging out in Rowayton with one of my first girlfriends. Ed recalls that Dave’s sister Joy knew Ed’s sister Pat, but I forget exactly how Ed came to join us. (Ed and I knew there was some connection because we had consecutive phone numbers, 866-7494, 866-7495.) He played a set of bongos at first, but very quickly acquired a single conga at a tag sale.

We began playing regularly in Dave’s basement. Our typical arrangement in Dave’s room was oriented toward the south wall (which had Dave’s stereo and reel to reel setup. From there, I’d have the 3 o’clock position, with my guitar, harmonicas and harmonica brace, Ed would be at six, further back with the conga held at angle between his knees to get the best sound. Dave would sit across from me so he and I could see each other’s chords and get cues. Ed’s conga would give us a unique sound, no matter what the configuration, electric or acoustic over the next fifteen years.

Ed and I provided our own streams of influence. (He was fanatical about Frank Zappa and the latter’s avant-garde influences. I was grounded in Dylan, the Stones and Joni Mitchell among others.) We had all come of age at a time when “free form” FM radio was at its peak of influence. This exposed us to a very wide range of musical influences, all strained through the manageable aperture of FM airplay. Dave was especially influential, introducing us to music that (if you know what to listen for) informed our playing and writing. Seatrain, Procol Harum, Love, Fairport Convention, Loggins & Messina, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Jethro Tull, Lindisfarne come to mind.

Our primary raison d’etre was music; writing it, playing it, recording it. We knew we weren’t that good, not natural talents like a few people we knew and would come to play with.

Dave had upgraded his reel to reel deck, still using quarter inch tape, but with stereo capability, larger reels, stereo (and overdub) capabilities and better sound. We continued the Blue Light format of music and comedy (commercial parodies, talk segments, parodies of AM/FM radio at the time. We combined the music with comedy that became formatted together (much like what Dave and I had done the previous fall).

We produced two reel to reel "albums" during 1972 and 1973; House without a Key and Winter Circus. We did elements of a third in 1974. I remember us working very hard to get stuff right, (by which I don’t mean good). Apologies to Wolfit, but the “comedy” was easy, mostly unscripted and made up live. Ed had a sharp comedic mind, I could produce a range of voices and Dave had what can be best described as an avuncular sense of comedic organization.

I can’t describe the close creative process that we three experienced in that room, but most of us have experienced something similar from time to time, especially with music projects. Crude as the output was, to me, the connection is apparent. (We had many other projects and other adventures during this time, but these are beyond the scope of this story.) In the end, the concepts were ahead of the executions.

Our first “stereo album” was House without a Key which we recorded in Dave’s room from 9/72 to 11/72. The music included:

From 12/72 to 1/73, we made Winter Circus using the same “radio” format. Songs included:

Dave and I began a third project in the Spring of 1974. We started without Ed who had dropped out temporarily to play with an “avant-garde” group. We never really finished this project (or properly named it, calling it The Third) but it contained our best work. Ed came back to us in time to help us finish this unfinished work (after we lured him back with the impromptu Captain Eddy). Songs included:

We’ve all had a time in our lives that are formative and often what we consider “the best years.” This time was that for me and, I suspect, Dave and Ed. We did more than play and record. We spent a lot of time together had adventures outside the scope of this story. Dave and I spent a lot of time together, tooling around in his legendary Buick station wagon.

In the summer of 1972, Dave started dating Patti Buckley. Patti wrote:

I met Dave in the summer of 1972 when I was taking sailing lessons at the Coast Guard Station down by Calf Pasture Beach. Dave was one of the instructors. I was 14 and he was 16. I came down to Pinkney Park to see you, Dave and Eddie play. The first date he took me on was to see the movie "Slaughter House Five". As soon as I became a Freshman in High School (Fall of 1972) I joined the Sea Scouts.

There’s no doubt that Patti was Dave’s first muse. Two of his best songs, Sail Away Weary Sailor and Today have their roots in that relationship. Another song, Sunday, was even more direct. (Sadly, only a small fragment of this song survives on tape.)

Patti remembers being “very intimidated” in her first meeting with us. “Suddenly, Ed lights a joint,” she recalled. However, she always thought us “very accepting” and she regards those years as some of her best. She told me, “I felt accepted and loved.”

There’s also no doubt that Ed and I gave Patti a harder time because she was Dave’s girlfriend and time with her was time away from playing. To her credit, Patti was smart enough to charm us and defuse the Yoko Ono threat. Eventually she started to play with us, one of the first of a string of new musical influences. She began playing flute with us in 1974 and played out with us several times. Patti could also play guitar and piano, but she worked best with us as a flautist.

By late 1973, another flautist that had begun to influence us was Mike Hector. Mike lived with his new wife Liz and their baby daughter, Shannon. Mike described himself as a “classic folkie.” (Patti refers to him as an “old soul”.)He was a good guitarist and had a good singing voice among his many talents. He also played flute well. Mike didn’t play with us that often, but he had a significant influence on the way Dave began to approach acoustic music. He also taught Dave several fingering and picking styles and I believe he showed Dave other perspectives in singing and writing.

His artistic pursuits went beyond music. Mike directed us in two children’s plays that we performed in Pinkney Park in the summer of 1975 (like herding cats, but with fairly good results). He also did the preliminary album cover art for our first LP in 1978. (Another artist ended up doing the final cover.) Mike also introduced us to Alan Freedman who would become one of the bands’ core musicians.

In late 1973, Tom May, another Rowayton boy began to sit in with us. Tom and Ed had known each other for years. Tom could play guitar simply and beautifully. Acoustic, electric, lead, rhythm, he was a far better guitarist than Dave and myself. Tom was funny, sweet and “very shy” as Patti remembers, but from the start he quietly influenced the primary sound of this band and several to come. We knew he was good, but we didn’t realize how important he would be to us.

Harry Hussey gives a tongue in cheek description of the Airfix that he first encountered in 1973:

The band started as Airfix, four moppy haired suburban boys, the boys your mother told you to avoid. These boys were Dave Procter, Greg Smith, Tom May and Ed Flinn. Dave played guitar, sang and was the heartthrob of the group, Greg played guitar, harmonica, sang and was the dark intellectual. Tom played lead and was the funny one. Ed played the congas and was the computer genius behind it all. Before there were computers. In addition to playing songs by Dave and Greg, they would do material by Bob Dylan, It's a Beautiful Day and Fairport Convention.

We would also have random people join us like Mike Burns who added a unique harmony to our version of All I Ever Really Want to Do. Others like Dave Hopkins, Martina Laetsch, Jud Miller and John Eddish joined in on songs like the spontaneous, infamous Don’t Drink the Water. Interestingly, Harry Hussey, who literally lived in the house behind Dave’s didn’t play with us until after Airfix was disbanded.

We would also occasionally play with Jenny O’Neil who was a couple of years younger than us and a member of the Sea Scouts. Like Tom, Patti, Mike and others, she possessed those qualities we valued as much, if not more than talent; she could play with other people and was not a stickler for doing a song “like the original.” She played a nylon string acoustic guitar that she kept in a brown velvet “case.” (Like us, she seemed to carry her instrument everywhere.) I recall her being a very good guitarist. She also had a good singing voice although it was hard to her over the noise the rest of us would make. I remember Jenny inviting me over to her house one evening and teaching me Paul Simon’s Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall. She had me do the low part while she sang the high part in her sweet voice (alto?). I regret that we never played more with her.

Beyond a few parties and three occasions at the Rowayton “Youth Concerts” in Pinkney Park, Airfix really didn’t play live performances. We were too inward directed (and too shy). One fatal exception took place in March of 1974 when, for some reason we got an audition to play at Brocks Restaurant at 606 Main Avenue in Norwalk, CT. Dave, Ed, Tom Patti and I saddled up. Unfortunately this was on Saturday, March 16, St Patrick’s Eve, not the night for your first bar gig. For some reason, the crowd wasn’t so interested in the way Dave and I harmonized or Patti’s flute on Melissa. I wonder if they ever knew that only two of us were eighteen or that Patti was sixteen.

High school was ending and as far as I recall, we never played as Airfix in any configuration after the summer of 1974.