Sound and Music
Studio Production Notes
Live Music Performance:
I was introduced to playing music onstage by my father, Robert
McCue, who found a way for me to play sets with his friends at
our local Elks Lodge. I began at 13 and played
gut bucket bass or snare with brushes. I would just hang with the guys
and play whatever I could as the band played standards for free beer and
tips. It would have been easy to get embarassed but I could order a beer
at the bar and get treated as an adult. It was too good an opurtunity
to pass up. The pianist, Lee Noll, was a master
entertainer who had played U.S.O. clubs for most of his career. Lee showed
me that live music was supposed to be fun.
When I moved to Tallahassee to attend art classes at F.S.U. I was determined to join the punk and alternative music scene and put
together a small band. I purchased a tiny P.A. amp and mics and built
some speaker boxes with help of my friend Doug Boyce who played in World on Wheels.
The first "band" was a collaborative effort formed
by my fellow employees at Nature's Way restaurant.
The owner of Nature's Way, Robert Sorrentti, was
doing some concert promotion and bringing most of the artists from the Windham Hill label to town for gigs. We were determined
to be the house band and called our band the Utensils...
we made use of lots of pots and pans. I played a tuned set of pickle buckets
and sang a few tunes. Eric Goodman played guitar. Dianne Hancock was our star singer. Robert Sorrenti
made sounds with stainless steel mixing bowls tuned with water. The restaurant
happened to employ many classical guitarists who had come to Tallahassee
to study with Bruce Holtzman from the School of
Music. We would often recruit them to sit in with the band. Our first
"real" gig was at Tommy's as the opening
act for a show that headlined Bo Diddley and featured
the Bill Wharton band. Bill probably doesn't remember
this but when our drummer Howard was forbidden by his wife to play that
night he saw our disappointment and volunteered to play our set. Bill
had no idea what we had planned but he had our backs, drummed like a pro,
and really made us feel great about the set. Bill really showed me what
it means to be a class act.
The next band was formed with my guitarist friend John
Loppilotto. John met a drummer and bassist that were really tight.
Guys, I have forgotten your names but I have the best memories of our
friendship. We rented some practice space from Paul Rutskowsky at his Window on Gaines Street studio and began
to play covers and original alt-rock tunes. I was singing and writing
and began to get serious about learning to play guitar. We called the
band Pilgrims. I was fascinated with art school
bands and became obsessed with pointing out that there was no "the"
in the bands name. At some point we were lucky to be introduced to Ken
Barry a saxophonist from the School of Music. Ken joined the band
and really gave us a distinctive sound. He was super creative and let
us do our pop thing while bringing some serious skill and knowledge to
the mix. We played lots of parties, a few gigs at Finales and the Warehouse and a couple at the Club
Down Under. Dave Murphy and the Casual
T's were very generous in helping us get gigs. Thanks guys. We
played the legendary solstice and equinox parties at Ted
Tollets pyramid house for several years. If you have never played
dance tunes for a group of naked hippies you should give it a try... what
fun. The bands big gig was when we got to open for Love
Tractor which was one of great bands from the now famous Athens
Ga. scene. We were niave enough to play a R.E.M. cover for them.... oops.
the Wedsday Night Jam
The Jam began as a cocktail hour party every Wedsday evening
at Radical Car Care. It was a full on kind of experienece
with too much of everything but it was so much fun we made a long run
of it. Eventually we moved the whole scene to my home studio and the jam
spilled over to just about every night of the week. By now I had become
obsessed with electric guitar and was always trying to learn more about
the history of the instrument. The roster included J.B.
Ritter, Troy Biddle, Rob
Hertz and myself on guitar. Chris Detriville played bass and Rick Kausch played drums. Paul
Davis from Gulf 104 occasionally graced
us with his good taste by singing, drumming or playing keyboards. We played
many years and had a few sets worked up but each member had a different
personal goal so this band never went public. Too bad... we were rocking
the funny farm
At some point it became obvious to me that the Wedsday Night
Jam was never going to go public and I started looking for another outlet
to play live. I was working at Joe's Bike Shop on Lake Ella and saw lots of people each day. I was fortunate to strike
up a conversation with Jim Koenig, a great bass
player, and before long we were jamming once or twice a week. Jim suggested
two mutual friends whom I knew and enjoyed as bike customers; Jason
Macmillan is a guitar and mandolin player and Tom
(T-Bird) Taylor plays keyboards. We started jamming and working
up a set of covers and originals. Ryder Hoffman joined as our drummer and we started playing a few parties. The jam band
style was in full swing and we played a mix of straight pop and long extended
jams. We practiced twice a week for about 5 years and eventually got to
a point where we were playing free jazz improvisation. This band could
change direction on a dime. It was a beautiful thing. No one
seemed interested in making a money so we focused on parties and benifits,
playing several times at the Tallahassee Rock Gym for fund raising events. At some point I called an old friend Jay who owns the Warehouse on Gaines Street and he
allowed us to become the first "electric" band to play there
after multi year moratorium on loud music. The funny farm was drawing
a big crowd of the nicest most polite party people and the bar was selling
some Guiness. It was a good thing.
Jim proved to be an excellent teacher and he made a misson
of teaching me to grow beyond my rhythm style. I had studied Music Theory
at F.S.U. but had not been able to asimilate it into my playing. Jim leveraged
my abstract knowledge with hands on instruction and got me to the point
where I wanted to rip out a solo at every opurtunity. I ended up making
a huge chart of the fretboard to hang on the wall and would reference
it while trying out all the scales and modes.
After five years of playing some of the guys got tired of
my experimenting and needed to stretch out. Jim moved out west and will
likely end up as part of a national act. He's a great player and dedicated
to making it. Tom is part of a hot jam band formally know as Tanglewood,
which is now called Stillwood or "the Wood".
Jason plays in several acts but most notably Mando Nectar and the Panhandle String Band. Ryder revealed an interest in Metal and I went off to pursue playing loud and obnoxious electric guitar.