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Rowayton Music
Three Bands
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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

October Palace


“Pretty lady, I may be blind, but I can see”

October Palace

October Palace

Group: Noyes and the Boyes
Recording Period: August 19, 1979 for the primary session, August 22 for mixing and overdubs on Tom May’s Caspian Sea Waltz
Location: Golden East Sound, 70 Turner Hill Road, New Canaan, CT

After Bridges, we almost immediately talked about doing another album. We already came up with the name “Noyes & the Boyes” in early September of 1978. Things were complicated by the fact that Harry was away at Marlboro College in Vermont. Harry began a new phase of music, beginning to play with non-Rowayton musicans for the first time. He wrote:

While there I was in No Nukes Of The North in the fall of 78. That changed to Cartoon eventually. I spent the summer of 1980 up there with Cartoon, trying to get gigs without a whole lot of success. We spent most of the time recording a demo. We don't have that tape anymore, that I know of. I formed Special Children with Matt Skeele in December of my second year there. We played for 2 years and then when we graduated in 81, Tony (Savoie) and I went to Boston thinking that the rest of the band would follow, but they all went to NYC and went into theater.
Josh came up to Marlboro in the fall 78 and we recorded a nice jam with a hammer dulcimer player, Marit Snow. I'm hoping that's somewhere in Josh's stuff.
Tony played with a variety of people in Marlboro, mostly pickup bands. Some jazz, some rock. He played percussion with us in Special Children.

(During this time, Audrey, Tom and I played together a lot, especially at the Grass Roots in Westport. We would also play random gigs like the ill-attended Sea Scout Spaghetti Dinner benefit in Rowayton circa January, 1979. A tape exists of our set there, showing our typical repertoire: The band for the planned album included:
  • Audrey Noyes vocals, guitar, percussion
  • Greg Smith vocals, 12 string guitar, harmonica
  • Harry Hussey vocals, lead guitar, bass
  • Tom May vocals, electric and acoustic guitars
  • Ed Flinn congas
  • Dave Procter bass
  • Mark Lebow balked at paying a full share of studio expenses (since he wasn’t playing on as many songs), so he’s listed as “special guest” on drums and percussion.
In many ways, this was our tightest line-up. Certainly one of the smallest but most talented, most versatile groups we ever put together to record and this album is my favorite, despite its many flaws. We originally were going do this project without Dave Procter who as drinking more and becoming less reliable. But Dave wanted to be part of this and came to me and really pressed his case. The others agreed to have him on board, but later during the final preparations for this project, Harry and I had to speak to him directly about his drinking and unreliability. In the end, though, Dave more than held up his end as his playing on the album attests. Production notes compiled by Harry Hussey early on (1978?) show this proposed list and order:
  • Just Before Greg Smith
  • Night and Day Audrey Noyes
  • Going Home Audrey Noyes
  • King of the Sea Greg Smith
  • October Palace Harry Hussey
  • “Instrumental by Tom, possibly solo. Whip something up, Tom.”
  • Dance at the Fountain of Life Harry Hussey
  • Misty Eyes Greg Smith
Harry’s notes also show that we were considering the album title Midwatch, the sailor’s watch from Midnight to 4AM. In the end, we all agreed that October Palace would be the title (because it was a great, evocative title). In November, 1978, not long after he had completed it, Harry wrote this to explain that song:

This song is a portrayal of suburban life on a fall afternoon. Picture the serenity of sitting in your living room of your $150,000 home in Tokeneke drinking Scotch on the Rocks with a quick splash of soda looking at the cosmic red and blue sunset over the sound. Think about taking the train into the city to spend an evening on the town and the guy you were supposed to meet forgot you were coming. Remember how some guy in a polo shirt with a little alligator on it was trying to impress you with all his money and all the places he’d been when all the time you knew he just wanted to take you home and get into your pants. Picture, if you will, those rampant parties in some New Canaan mansion where by twelve o’clock everybody was pretty coked out or drunk and a mess of guys are gangbanging a floozie named Alice over in the corner of the entrance hall and she’s loving every minute of it. When you’re finished thinking about all this think about the absolute boredom running wild all over Fairfield County.

The final lineup of songs seems to have been settled fairly early. We were practicing and refining songs. A practice tape from January, 1979 included all the songs, and only the songs on the final album. By the spring of 1979, we were considering cover concepts and looking for our October Palace. Dave Hopkins took some photos of us on the rocks in Rowayton’s Beach Association. Dave Procter, Tom May and I went to find some old stables near Tarrytown, NY that I had photographed in 1974. The stables had been burned down. We did find a lovely “castle” on a hill and posed Tom as the title song’s protagonist to do test shots. In the end, we found our October Palace right in Rowayton. No photos exist of the actual October Palace session, but there are series from our practice sessions at Lilac Lane in Norwalk where we practiced for the album and our 1979 concert at Pinkney Park. (This is why Josh Kramer appears in some of these photos. He came down from Boston to play at Pinkney, but not for the album.) We took cover photographs of the group on a cloudy Saturday morning in August at the old Farrell Rockledge Estate 40-42 Highland Avenue, Rowayton, CT (known to us as the former Thomas School).

Adam Weissman took a series of shots of Harry, Audrey, Tom, Mark, Greg, Dave and Ed on the East terrace and south side sunken gardens. Everyone dressed for a formal garden party; a summer dress for Audrey, suits for the gentlemen, Mark in white shoes, even Ed Flinn in a jacket and tie (a jaw-dropping first). Harry dressed in tails and looked like a very, very scary butler. Mark brought the makings for Bloody Marys, including the vodka. Standing there, holding a drink, you naturally sip it. I recall being reasonably drunk by 11:30 and going home to take a nap. One of the photos graced the back cover of October Palace. Several other photos exist; well worth the effort, if only to see us that dressed..

The primary recording session began Sunday, August 19, 1979 at Golden East Sound in New Canaan. It was engineered by Don Wade. Golden East was a tiny facility with a main room, a control room and one isolation booth that could just fit a drum kit. It was part of a private house down a long driveway in the northeast section of New Canaan, CT. They charged $230 for ten hours of “8-track” recording. Josh Kramer had been out for a visit and accompanied us to the studio, but couldn’t stay because he had to return to school (I think). It would have been great if he could have joined us. (Because of our work for that summer’s Pinkney concert, he was familiar with most of the material.)

I don’t recall any overdubbing except for Tom’s Caspian Sea Waltz. We had a booth for the drums and I seem to recall us putting Ed Flinn in a small vocalist booth with his congas for most of the session. Not surprisingly, there’s a very “live” quality to this effort since most of us were on top of each other in the same room. The first song we did was Misty Eyes, only because I had to use my voice as little as possible after waking up that morning so that I could hit the low notes the song required. After the session, Dave quickly wrote up detailed production notes from the rough demo tape we made of the all-day recording session, which helped us focus when we mixed a few days later.

We did a second session at the studio on Wednesday evening, August 22, to mix and have Tom lay down his overdubs for Caspian Sea Waltz.

There were nine songs on October Palace, two authored by Harry, five by me, one by Audrey and a solo instrumental by Tom:

This illustrated the writing styles of these band members. Harry’s two songs, October Palace and Geeks were complex, somewhat orchestral, with time changes and movements. Harry thinks they never quite worked the way they were intended. The writing, the arrangements, the playing, he thinks these two songs come up short. That may be, but these were fun for us and challenging to perform. Audrey took away October Palace from Harry and made it her own. Also, listen to the excellent work by Dave, Ed and especially Mark, as always providing a strong rhythm through the twists and turns and time changes. I think both these songs hold up and are interesting.

Mine were easy to learn; straight structure, never more than five chords, with the exception of Misty Eyes which involved a perverse structure and open tuning. This the primary reason so many of my songs were used and so few of Harry’s. Travelin’ Song was old (by our standards), going back to the Airfix days. I defy you to name another song that uses the word, “isthmus.” Audrey and Harry consider Just Before to be one of my best. (I wrote it in one sitting in Boston just after waking up on my birthday, before I went to class.) Tom made this song his own. Together with Audrey’s wistful picking, Tom’s vocal and lead are the heart of the song.

Audrey’s Night or Day was the second of the only four songs she ever shared with us. (She insisted she never was a composer.) This song has certain subtleties in its construction and is certainly one of the darker songs we ever did.

Tom’s Caspian Sea Waltz was classic Tom; no words, three guitar parts only he could play. In fact, Tom recorded this song a few nights later, alone in an isolation booth with the rest of the band watching. Until then, no one, not even Tom, had ever heard the full composition. (The third guitar part is brief. See if you can pick it out.) By the way, Caspian Sea Waltz was a fitting companion to Just Before and interestingly, we ended up doing a similar pairing eight years later on our fifth album.

I think it took us a long time to learn to arrange roles that showcased our strengths and downplayed our weaknesses. For example, listening to this album today, I find my vocals to be weak and uninspiring. I would have made more use of Tom or Audrey as lead singers.

We ran 125 pressings at Cook Labs in South Norwalk and glued the covers on with rubber cement ourselves at Audrey’s house. According to notes, the total cost for recording, mixing, pressing and printing covers came to $939.37 (in 1979 dollars).

I created another song book for the band members with Harry providing musical transcription for each song and my friend Jeryl Hazan doing calligraphy. I used photographs provided by Adam Weissman, Dave Hopkins and Dave Procter, mostly from our 1979 Pinkney Park concert. There was a page that thanked those who helped us produce the final project. A final footnote. In 2006, I found this listing at

Noyes and the Boys: basement edgy folk. Noyes is the female vocalist. lp (79, no label; paste-on cover, insert) October Palace [1?]

In October, 2010, I found this site: offering RARE US private psychedelic folk! It's sound is really great! With 2 sheets of insert. 79

Price: $1495.00

In November, I found this: The album was rated by two people. We got 1.5 and 3.5 stars out of five. (Who are these people?)