The sound of 1978: Gentile, Hunter, Dunlap, and French live in Woods Hole
Working with our friends Nancy and Jim Van der Pyle to put on a community dance party, in February of 1978 I performed at the Woods Hole Community Hall with a band consisting of myself on keys and harmonica, Phil Gentile on guitar and vocals, Bobby Dunlap on electric guitar and vocals, and Harry French on drums and vocals. It was a pretty potent band. Phil Gentile, as you’ll hear on these live recordings of the performance, is such an amazing singer that you really don’t mind much when he starts making up lyrics. He also plays very strong rhythm guitar. Bobby Dunlap rocks like mad on the electric guitar, Harry French does a lot of big drum grooves, and I play keys and harp, both of which I performed on frequently in those days. (Now I mostly just perform on harp, though I’m playing more keys in the studio lately.)
My rig at the time consisted of a Shure 545 pistol-style vocal mic and a Fender Super Reverb with an added transformer to increase power to 45 watts, plus two ElectroVoice SRO 12″ speakers instead of the standard Fender 4×10″ speaker configuration. Contrary to the amp’s name, it had no working reverb. In this particular venue there was more than enough sound bouncing around to make reverb beside the point, but in general I played a pretty bare sound and setup in those days. I used this modified Super Reverb for the Fender Rhodes electric piano as well as the harp. It was a heavy amp, but I never had a problem with the harp being heard with this setup. (It didn’t project quite so well with the electric piano, though.) I used a wooden-cabinet Leslie speaker–a 145 maybe?–for the organ, and the organ itself was a Farfisa Professional that I had owned since 1970, and which was already pretty beat up by that point. (Sounded great, though.)
The original recording medium was chromium dioxide (CRO2) stereo cassette with Dolby B noise reduction, which was about the best you could get in a portable recording device in 1978. I don’t remember how I got the sound into the cassette deck, but I seem to recall that I used a pair of TEAC mics. The sound isn’t ideal, but you can clearly hear what’s being played. Dig.
Hearing this forty years later, I’m struck by how responsive the players in the band were to each other. Lots of bold, spontaneous, wicked grooves in these performances, and it’s remarkable how the entire band locked onto those grooves as they emerged. I’m particularly impressed with the work by Harry French, who I hadn’t played with much before this date, on drums; there’s a lot of push and flow there, lots of arranging, lots of careful grooving with the other instruments, and big big drum hits that fill a lot of space. I’d played with Bobby Dunlap on a few occasions, but I’d never heard him extend his grooves and solos like this before. His guitar work is unlike anyone else’s, combining lead and rhythm playing in one smooth, powerful package.
It Takes a Lot to Laugh
This recording of Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” includes some of Phil’s mind-blowing vocals as well as a lot of hard blowing from the band, including a big harp solo to wrap it all up. In those days musicians stretched out, and a lot of fun it was. Enjoy.
“It Takes a Lot to Laugh…” Gentile, Hunter, Dunlap, and French, recorded live at Woods Hole Community Center, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, February 18 1978
This performance of “Come Together” includes more amazing vocal jams from Phil plus a new, sinister, jazzy groove for the piece, with lotsa piano and VERY hard-rockin’ guitar from Bobby Dunlap.
“Come Together” Gentile, Hunter, Dunlap, and French, recorded live at Woods Hole Community Center, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, February 18 1978
You Ain’t Goin Nowhere
Another Dylan piece. Oddly, I didn’t play harp on this one, just keys. Wonder why?
“You ain’t Goin Nowhere” Gentile, Hunter, Dunlap, and French, recorded live at Woods Hole Community Center, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, February 18 1978
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