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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

Untitled Document


"Made jesters cry and holy men laugh"

Boston Years



Not long after I arrived in Boston for my sophomore year, I met Josh Kramer in my Boston University dorm on Beacon Street. He was interested in music, but played only a single instrument, an autoharp with push-button chords. Josh also had another instrument, a great voice. He had natural pitch and a great baritone, and he really wanted to play music with someone. We started playing right away, with material optimized for his voice and the autoharp. Josh soon had this instrument modified so he could play more common major chords. I found a 12 string guitar of Japanese make, called a Tokai, in a pawn shop in Cambridge that fall and bought it as my primary guitar. This is because I had always admired Dave Procter's 12 string playing and wanted to learn how to get that rich sound he always delivered.

Boston was a unique incubator for elements of the style and composition of some of our later work. I was far enough from Dave's basement to learn new things and develop different patterns of writing. Josh and I primarily influenced each other during those three years.

With the autoharp and 12 string, our sound was unique and it helped us to stand out. We played together, did some recording and played "out", mainly gigs around the BU campus. In our first year together, we played with others (who all lived in the same dorm at 512 Beacon Street), including guitarists, Rick Sweren and Mike Eisen, and Rob Shore on conga. Josh and I also played over our three years together in Boston with Melissa Handler, who played decent flute and had a good stage presence (although she and Josh loved to bicker). Usually it was Josh and I, sometimes Melissa, sometimes a larger group. For example, Rick, Josh and I did a set that included a version of John Barleycorn Must Die at a coffeehouse in our dorm on April 3, 1976. I believe Melissa playing flute over our three-part harmonies. Other people from the Rowayton area came to Boston. I lived with Steve Kraemer and Phil See for a year, and Dave Hopkins and Patti Buckley went to Northeastern University. Josh and I played with all of them from time to time. For example, one afternoon in October, 1976, Josh, Phil, Dave, Patti and I sat in Phil's bedroom in our apartment on Park Drive in Brighton, MA and recorded songs on a reel to reel that Phil owned, We recorded a rousing (and rowdy) version of Bob Dylan's Knockin' On Heaven's Door and Josh's Greatest of Legends. (Somewhere there may be a version of Al Stewart's Nostrodamus from that session which ends as I break a string. My tape records the first chord of this.) More importantly, I introduced Josh to the Rowayton talent pool, by luring him down over the 1975 Christmas break to play on Alan's recording project.

Harry wrote about Josh meeting the rest of our merry band:

In Boston, Greg met Josh Kramer whose silky baritone made the co-eds swoon up and down the eastern seaboard. They would play at various parties at Boston University and starred in the cutting edge independent film, "Commando Chef" by Adam Weisman. Greg brought Josh down to Rowayton on holidays and he started to play music with the rest of the gang.

In Boston, Josh and I played several nights a week and on weekends. We experimented, wrote, critiqued each other. We put together a wide variety of material based on who we were playing with. The variety is evident in this list of recorded work that exists:

There's a "lost tape" from the fall of 1976 worth mentioning because it had some unique stuff on it that we never played again. In a letter I wrote to Martina Laetsch, I listed the following (verbatim) as being on the enclosed cassette tape:
  • From the Beginning Me and Josh, a song by Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Josh sings, we both play guitar with his lead.
  • Nantucket Sleighride A song by Mountain based on an old New England whaling lament.
  • All Along the Watchtower Josh on autoharp and vocals, me on slide guitar. We had trouble doing this because we were laughing for no reason. A Dylan classic.
  • Allison's Last Summer Certainly one of the best things I ever wrote. Josh plays the lead and helps on the harmonies. I hope you can hear the words.
  • Misty Eyes Another of my best songs though in a different way. Josh is on lead guitar again.
  • Amie We were killing time so I sang this song and Josh joined in. It sounds bad because we never did it before.
  • Josh's California Song He wrote this the night before to show his desire to go west this summer. Me on the slide.
  • Colorado A National Lampoon parody on John Denver and his music. Josh on lead.
  • At the Harbor The Renaissance song. Me as Annie Haslam.
  • Girl with No Eyes It's a Beautiful Day (Celeste says hello.)
  • You Ain't Goin' Nowhere An obscure Dylan song.
Unfortunately, Martina's younger brother erased this tape to record music off the radio.

When we played out, it was mostly at parties and functions. Since we were acoustic, we were portable and flexible. A good example of one of our better gigs was when we headlined a coffeehouse at Boston University's Myles Standish Dorm on 2/25/78. Josh and I played with another BU student, Melissa Handler, on flute. The performance was recorded through the board so we got a clean recording. Here is the set which was typical of what we were playing at the time:

Our last performance in Boston was in the spring of 1978. We played at the BU Student Union's "Backstreet Pub", a fairly large venue. Harry Hussey came up from Rowayton to join Josh and me on stage. We played four songs. (It was a crowded venue and we were on a tight schedule.) The extant tape contains these: Note: The original "Bandit Sally" herself was in the audience.

By the way, there are almost no photos from this time, certainly no photos of Josh and I playing. Most students didn't have cameras. Dave Hopkins was the only photographer we knew in Boston and he never took pictures of us playing.

Josh went home to Queens, NY in May, 1978 after graduation. I stayed in Boston until the beginning of August and moved back to Connecticut the day before we began recording Bridges.