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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

December Projects


"A wind from the north was spreading itself..."

The December Projects


Alan Project

The 1974 Project

In the autumn of 1974, Dave, Tom and I went off to college; Dave to the University of Rhode Island, Tom to Fairfield University (although he lived at home) and me to Boston University. Ed Flinn, the smartest of all of us, went to Norwalk Community College, studying computer science. When we came home for Christmas vacation, we decided to do a more formal recording project. Airfix was basically finished, but we had some unfinished business. We set up on the main floor of the Rowayton Community Center. We had Dave's reel to reel and an assortment of musicians. Literally nothing survives from this session; no tape, no photographs. No one has a very clear memory of this session, but here's what my faulty memory reconstructs. The personnel may have included:

  • Dave Procter 12 String, Vocals
  • Greg Smith 6 String, Vocals, Harmonica
  • Ed Flinn Conga
  • Harry Hussey 6 String
  • Tom May 6 String (?)
  • Patti Buckley Flute
  • Phil See Bass (?)

Harry and I agree that at least four songs were recorded:

  • Who Knows Where the Time Goes Sandy Denny
  • Can't Find My Way Home Steve Winwood
  • King of the Sea Greg Smith
  • Melissa Gregg Allman/Steve Alaimo

I can't imagine we didn't do one of Dave's songs and I think it was Today, but it could have been Sail Away Weary Sailor.

The one thing I do recall from this session was Harry improvising on Can't Find My Way Home, and me being pissed about it and telling him so. I'm sure if I had more sophistication and hadn't been such a proper tyrant, I would have appreciated it (whatever it was). To this day, I never tire of being wrong.

Harry wrote:

They say nothing good comes from mucking about in boats and that proved particularly true when Harry and Mark joined Sea Explorers and met Dave Procter. Airfix was impressed that Blue Monday could play and Blue Monday was impressed that Airfix could sing and so there started to be some intermingling. This started with regular weekend parties at the Proctors during the fall of '74 where Harry and Mark would play folk rock on the basement stairs. When Greg and Dave would come home from college they would join in and songs were learned and exchanged. There were recording projects that came up, usually done at the Rowayton Community Center with a reel to reel and as many mics as could be begged, borrowed or stolen. The first one involved a version of Who Knows Where the Time Goes and was the genesis of the oft repeated Mark Lebow quote, "Who's been fucking with my drums?"

The Alan Freedman Project December, 1975, January, 1976

Alan Freedman had started playing with us in 1974. He saw the fruit of our output (such as it was) and wanted to do a recording project. We combined Blue Monday and Airfix and added some extras, including Dave Hopkins (who borrowed an electric piano from the band room of Brien McMahon High School), and Josh Kramer.

Josh and I had started playing together that fall. He lived in Little Neck, Queens, NY, so it was natural that he come to Rowayton over the holidays and meet all the Cool Musicians I knew. Josh came for his first visit in mid-December. He was no sooner in Dave's room than we grabbed him to serve as an "adult shepherd" for the annual Rowayton Christmas Pageant. Within hours he found himself dragging a recalcitrant ram across a snowy stage in front of the whole town as part of the celebration of Christ's birth. (A story for another time.) He almost left for home that night, but later understood the context of "Rowayton projects."

Alan had spent some time with Josh and me up in Boston. During this time he wrote Nature's Daughter, his first and only complete composition. Not the best song, it suffered from too many words. (A mistake Harry and I also made with our first work.) This was going to be one of the primary components of this session.

Alan was the leader of the one day recording session in early January, 1976. It didn't help that he was trying to quit smoking at the time. He would get frustrated (usually at Mark, for some reason) and would drag me out for a "conference" which invariably consisted of us driving around the long block that constituted the Rowayton School/Community Center grounds. This took about as long as it took to smoke a single cigarette and vent.

Most of us had played together before, but Josh hadn't played with a full band. Harry found us a flute player. We were used to having a flute player, but Dave and Patti had broken up, so we couldn't possibly have her in the same room. Harry knew Lisa Hansen from high school (specifically Band, I think). She may have been a high school sophomore, but looked much, much younger. (I remember picking her up from her house for the session, meeting her parents and feeling much older than nineteen. Josh and I recalled that we all watched our language around her.) She did a great job considering we dragged her in and gave her a few minutes to meet us all and learn these songs.

The players were all of Blue Monday, the members of Airfix and more:

  • Alan Freedman Guitar, Vocals
  • Greg Smith 12 string, vocals, harmonica
  • Josh Kramer vocals, autoharp
  • Lisa Hansen flute
  • Dave Hopkins piano, guitar
  • Dave Procter principal engineer, bass
  • Bill Galey electric guitar, bass
  • Mark Lebow drums
  • Tom May electric guitar
  • Ed Flinn conga, percussion
  • Phil See second engineer

We returned to the Rowayton Community Center, the same room we had used over a year before. The actual recording took place in early January (not long after New Year's). The songs, in order as recorded include:

Some songs came out better than others. Nature's Daughter was a mess. Over arranged, bad vocals... really bad. The song plods through too many verses.

Can't Find My Way Home was a simpler arrangement and a song we were more familiar with. It showcases Josh's voice and Lisa does a lovely flute solo while Harry and I play guitar.

White Bird fairs less well. There are sound problems at the start and the balance on the vocals is imperfect. This song is redeemed by a good solid rhythym section and a very interesting play between Lisa's flute and Tom's electric lead. This interchange makes the song. Nice catch by Lisa at the end when the song ends without her being aware of it.

Urge for Going was also messy. Weak lead vocals (moi) and bad balance on the sound. Still the percussion is nice and Dave Hopkins on the electric piano adds a nice sound. Lisa's flute is a little lost on this, but Tom's slide is dead on. Oh, and the lyrics are only vaguely like the original.

These two December projects were the first real amalgamations of Airfix and Blue Monday (playing under neither name). There would be a real merger in 1978.

The Blue Monday Project January 3, 1977

Over the 1976-77 Christmas-New Year holidays, Blue Monday did their own, tighter project. (They recorded twice as many songs.) It's recounted here in Chapter IV of this little history. Blue Monday was a going concern. Josh and I were playing in and out quite a bit in Boston. Tom May had his "other band" at Fairfield University, the Buzzereds. Still we all had time to jam together at places like a January, 1977 party at the Requa's house on Flax Hill Road in Norwalk.

The Basement Session, December, 1977

There was no formal "December project" in 1977-78. Instead there was an impromptu session recorded in the basement of Harry Hussey's house on Highland Avenue. Josh Kramer, Alan Freedman (on drums!) Tom May, Dave Procter, Harry and myself recorded a series of original songs. These included:

I think there were one or two more, but these are the only ones I recall. It wasn't much of a session and this was the last "project". We were going to do a proper album next time.