45 Friday: THE ROAD – She’s Not There


By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon

The Road was always one of the most-loved local bands in Western New York. Not because they were ‘super-hip’. They never went full psychedelic, musically, preferring pre-hippie Rock (like The Zombies, Hollies and Buffalo Springfield) and Soul music covers for their live shows material. They never looked like hippies either, dressing more like Mods.

They were popular because they were everywhere – if you are of age, you probably saw them at a high school dance; later on, you saw them in the bars and clubs. They were accessible and relatable. And they were GOOD. Superb musicians, all. And always.

And if you were of age you grew up with their music in the background. Especially on the radio, especially “She’s Not There”. It did sell well (supposedly 200,000 singles, and the album sold well too) but it got played endlessly on local stations like WKBW. Later on it got immortalized on one of WKBW ‘KB Classics’ oldies albums which made their way into seemingly 50% of local households!

The Zombies released “She’s Not There” in the Fall of 1964 and it was a smash hit in the USA by December. The Madmen (including future Road-sters Ralph Parker and Jerry Hudson) evolved into 6 Pact (joined by Phil Hudson) who performed a cover version “She’s Not There”. It’s there where they first developed their familiar re-arrangement of the tune, with a more powerful vocal element compared To Colin Blunstone’s more atmospheric take.

When the local supergroup Mellow Brick Rode all came together – adding Nick DiStefano, Joe Hesse and Jim Hesse (from Just Us Five and Caesar & the Romans) – they continued to perform the song.

Their management brought WKBW DJ Joey Reynolds into the picture. He produced their first single, on United Artists Records. Althouh it fizzled on the charts they were able to get signed next to Kama Sutra Records.

Looking for a surefire hit they recorded their arrangement of “She’s Not There” under Reynold’s supervision, in New York City. The single came out as by ‘The Road’. Apparently Mellow Brick Rode fans had taken to calling them just ‘The Rode’ and by this time (mid-1968) their old name was passe – sounding too much like 1967!

Needing a B-side the band recorded a track credited to a J. Pinto. “A Bummer’ is a pure throwaway instrumental. It may sound like a hip title, or a drug reference, but it consists only of the band playing a moderate Rock/Soul groove while a voice mumbles ‘bummer’ a few times. Maybe it was a bummer to have to record the track?? Because I have a feeling it was not so much ‘wow, let’s cut this great song!” as a case of a shrewd business deal. J. Pinto turns out to be the real name of Joey Reynolds. Whether Mr. Reynolds has composing talent I don’t know, but it’s not evident on tbis track! But when a single sells, royalties are paid equally to the composers of each side. And for the band’s interests, it certainly didn’t have hurt to give WKBW’s DJs an extra reason to play it.

For this recording, Road organist Jim Hesse was absent. He apparently had medical problems which required the band to sometimes have others fill in for him. Here, Jake Jakubowski (of Barbara St. Clair & The Pin-Kooshins) filled in for him and played that classic Hammond B3/ Leslie speaker demonstration of a part.

By the time of their next album Cognition – following the bands’ reorganization (no pun intended) – Jakubowski became the full-time organist.

Curiously, on the same night “She’s Not There” was recorded (9/27/68) the fire that destroyed the Glen Casino / Inferno occurred. And Barbara St. Clair & The Pin-Kooshins’ equipment was lost in the fire, including a brand new organ that had just been delivered that day. I suspect that that was Jakubowski’s instrument, though I’ve also heard that Ron Davis was the Pin-Kooshins’ new organist at that time.

A newspaper blurb of the time mentions a benefit that was held immediately after at The Mug on Hertel Ave, and one of the bands listed is The Mellow Brick Rode, so we can establish that the name change to Road happened at the time the single was released.

We should not that it was around this time or shortly after that Larry Rizzuto became a member as drummer. Regular drummer Nick Distefano was so important as co-lead singer (one of three) that it was felt necessary to free him up to just sing at times. Rizzuto eventually became a producer and produced some of their later singles.

This seven-man band was unusual. I can’t think of another seven-piece band that didn’t have horn players!

The single was a hit, selling in impressive numbers single and topping the charts in some markets. It reached #6 in Los Angeles in February 1969. Further singles were released, and an album (only the original six are on the cover though). The band played relentlessly but mostly locally. They could always draw a crowd here, always get good pay for gigs. Unfortunately the decision to not put them on tour hurt their career outside of the immediate area. Ultimately that led to the break up of this first phase of the band.

Listen to “She’s Not There” and be taken right back to 1968…..

Note: the version I’ve linked is not the exact single version. It’s in Stereo, and includes the intro as was found on their album.

45 Friday: JERRY HUDSON – Gillian Frank


By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon

Last week’s post of “Feeling The Sunshine” by Waves shows what happened to one part of The Road following their 1971 breakup. Today’s post will show what the other part was doing.

But first let’s backtrack a bit, just to fill in latecomers, and add a little more detail. The Mellow Brick Rode formed in late 1967. Members were Phil and Jerry Hudson (vocals), Joe and Jim Hesse (bass and keyboards, respectively), Nick Distefano (drums) and Ralph Parker (guitar). All of them had started playing music in the post-Beatles era but were already veterans of multiple teen combos.

Joe Hesse had played bass with The Rockin’ Paramounts circa late 1964. By 1965 Joe was with local garage institution Caesar & the Romans, who ultimately recorded four 45s. At some point brother Jim Hesse came in on organ. When Joe moved on he was relaced by Vinnie Parker. Vinnie’s brother Ralph Parker had played in The Buffalo Highlites, who released an obscure and scarce 45 themselves.

Vinnie Parker then formed a garage band called The Madmen with brother Ralph Parker and Jerry Hudson. A Summer 1966 article in the WKBW Teen News promised a forthcoming single on Capitol called “Mr Guy” which almost certainly was never released (if I’m wrong, I need a copy!). It’s desribed as sounding “more like the Yardbirds than the Yardbirds”, and I have a feeling it was reminiscent of their “Mr. You’re A Better Man Than I”.

The Madmen evolved into 6 Pact (both Hudson brothers and Ralph Parker) where they first developed their arrangement of “She’s Not There”. Joe Hesse was playing with Nick Distefano in Just Us Five, grabbing Jim Hesse away from Caesar & the Romans, they formed the local supergoup called The Mellow Brick Rode.

Wow, that’s a lot of member trading. And a lot of brothers!

WKBW DJ Joey Reynolds took them under his wing. For their first effort he merely added their voices (mainly Jerry’s) to a previously recorded track for their first single on United Artists (the B-side was actually sung by non-member Tony Galla). This single didn’t do much.

By 1968 The Mellow Brick Rode had become simply The Road. Signed to Kama Sutra Records now, they finally cut their version of “She’s Not There”  which became a moderate hit – selling 200,000 copies – but in markets too scattered to make the impact it could have. Reynolds took them into Synchron Studios in Wallingford CT to cut the rest of an album built around “She’s Not There”. The LP charted but only for just two weeks. Additional singles were taken from album tracks, most achieving local success. But their managment didn’t seem to be able to get them on ‘The Road’ properly, beyond some close-by shows on the East Coast.

The band all but split up split-up, with Jim Hesse and Ralph Parker leaving. They reformed with a new keyboards orientation, with organist Don “Jake” Jakubowski joined by pianist Ken Kaufman – and no lead guitarist.

Larry Rizzuto joined to supplement them on drums, as drummer Distefano was also a lead vocalist. This is the basis of the version of The Road that recorded “Cognition” in 1971.

By 1972 The Road had split up again. Nick DiStefano went off to Nashville. Ken Kaufman & Phil Hudson added vocalist Ron Lombardo (who had been writing music for The Road, including much of “Cognition”) to form Waves with Jim Catino.

Jerry Hudson, meanwhile, formed his own bands while also trying his hand at radio via a short stint as a WKBW DJ. First came Jerry & The Hornets, a hard rock group in a Humble Pie direction. This included former members of Flash. Next came the more laid-back Alacazam featuring ex-membrs of Parkside. This only lasted six months but Jerry came away with bass player Mike Romano.

Jerry and Mike hooked up with drummer Eric Malinowski and two members of Junction West ready to jump ship, Mike Kucharski on guitar and Peter Viapiano on organ. As they were forming a band and naming it (After Dark) they were asked by mamagement to audition a young lady as second vocalist. They didn’t expect much from the unknown Donna McDaniel but her voice blew them away and she was in the group. Many of you will know Donna from her pwerhouse performance on “We’re Gonna Win That Cup!”.

By November they were well-rehearsed and ready for their first public appearances as After Dark. That same month a record was issued under the name Jerry Hudson which was to become a local hit and a favorite of many Buffalonians.

“Gillian Frank” was recorded before After Dark was formed, at ActOne Studio on Delaware Avenue. It seems to have been recorded while Jerry was still under contract (his Kama Sutra contract for The Road), a contract that ran out the month it was finally released.

I don’t know who plays on “Gillian Frank” though it’s certainly local musicians. This was originally issued on Bandstand Records – the first record on Bandstand in 1972. A different B-side was recorded but not used – a cover of The Byrds’ “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better” with lead vocal by local female singer Polla Milligan. Road member/associate produced both of these tracks. For whatever reason, this Polla track wasn’t used and Bandstand copies came with the same track on both sides.

The record got local airplay and regional sales and soon Big Tree Records picked up the track for national release, Since it was credited to “Jerry Hudson”, Big Tree wanted a Hudson B-side. Polla’s vocals were wiped off the tracks and Jerry relaced them.

The Big Tree record had good sales (Billboard listed it as ‘Bubbling Under’ the Hot 100 at #117, on Feb 17, 1973). It was also issued on Polydor in Canada. To capitalize on the name After Dark changed their name to The Jerry Hudson Group.

After about a year without further success, Jerry broke up the group. He apparently pursued an acting gig in Los Angeles, until he was asked to returned to Buffalo to join with Nick DiStefano, Joe Hesse and most of Waves in a reconstituted almost-original Road. This led to another single, a brilliant version of Joni Mitchel’s “Night In The City”.

Althuogh membership continued to change, the legacy of The Road carried on through years of live shows and several more singles. When they again reunited at the Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara Falls in 2012, they included “Gillian Frank” in their set.


45 Friday: WAVES – Feeling The Sunshine


By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon


I chose this one because today, after this bear of a winter, I truly was finally feelin’ the sunshine!

Coincidentally, this band and record came up in a forum earlier today. I never knew the story behind it except it was obviously connected to beloved locals The Road. I still don’t know the whole sorry but I have most of it.

The Road started out their career in 1967 as ‘The Mellow Brick Rode’ and issued one 45 under that name. “Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket” was sung by Jerry Hudson over a backing track by Syracuse band The All Night Workers, a frat band who had released their version without success.

Trivia fans will be interested to know that the All Night Workers record had involvement by Syracuse U student Lou Reed! And also that the B-side “Other Side Of This Life” (a Fred Neil song, covered by many folk-rock groups including early Jefferson Airplane) was actually sung by Tony Galla.

Mellow Brick Rode members were Phil Hudson (vocals), Jerry Hudson (vocals), Nick DiStefano (drums & vocals), Joe Hesse (bass), Jim Hesse (keyboards) and Ralph Parker (guitar).

In 1968 they had become ‘The Road’. They signed to Kama Sutra Records and their first single – She’s Not There, a cover of the Zombies tune – sold over 200,000 copies.

Kama Sutra issued several more singles and an album titled simply “The Road”. At some point there were personnel changes and Larry Rizzuto – later to act as producer on some of their records – joined the band as drummer.

By 1971 and their second album the ‘official’ lineup (per the Cognition album credits) was the Hudsons, Joe Hesse, Nick DiStefano with keyboards now by Don ‘Jake’ Jakubowski.

Ken Kaufman was credited with piano on quite a few tracks including tracks he wrote or co-wrote with Ron Lombardo and John Lotz. Lombardo had been a member of ‘Baggs’. Although only the five core members of The Road appear on Cognition cover pics it seems that the personnel was in flux, and that the double-album was completed by a larger circle of musical acquaintances. Ken Kaufman seems to have been ‘virtually’ a member, a position that was solidified eventually.

The Road split up in 1972 . Jerry Hudson went solo. Nick DiStefano went off to Nashville with some other Buffalo musicians to try to make it there.

The remaining Road guys from the Cognition band (Ken Kaufman & Phil Hudson) and associate Ron Lombardo on vocals brought in Lombardo’s former bandmate in Baggs, drummer Glen Bowen, and rehearsals took place on Kenmore Ave. Billy Sheehan was temporarily out of Talas and joined the project on bass. Jim Catino – with a long history in local music, starting with Batavia garage band The Squires – came in on guitar. And the project became the band ‘Waves’.

Billy Sheehan went back to Talas and Joe Burgio came in on bass. Waves issued their one and only record in 1973, Feeling The Sunshine (a Kaufman/ Lotz composition) backed with I’m In Love With A School Girl (Ron Lombardo). This came out on Bandstand, produced by Kaufman and Lotz and recorded at Trackmaster.

Within a year’s time a reunion of the original Road was brewing. Nick DiStefano came back from Nashville, Joe Hesse came back into the fold, and with both Hudson brothers on hand they again became The Road. Ken Kaufman and James Catino continued on as well.

One single was the only released output from this version of the band but it was a great one. Night In The City – a cover of Joni Mitchell – was coupled with a reprise of the Waves track Feeling The Sunshine for this 45 on the local Goodtime Records.

An album’s worth of material was recorded at the time, including a supposedly killer version of Hazy Shade Of Winter, but the album was never finished and the band fell apart.

Further Road reformations and variations saw Hudson and Ken Kaufman bring in guitarists Bobby Lebel and Dave Elder and drummer Sal Joseph. Two 45s on the simply titled ‘The Road’ label were the last proper Road releases – Music Man b/w You Give It All and Hard To Tell You Goodbye b/w Rosalie.

The last Road reunion was at the Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara Falls in 2012. The band consisted of Hudson, Hudson, DiStefano, Kaufman, Joe Hesse and Bobby Lebel. And they did a great version of “A Hazy Shade Of Winter” which you can find on YouTube.

45 Friday: PULEO – Lyin’ Louie ~with Ted Reinhardt


By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon

As most of you know, legendary Buffalo dummer Ted Reinhardt passed away this week. He was unfortunately poorly represented on vinyl or even CD recordings, for a player of his caliber. I had to stretch my brain to think of a 45 that would be relevant but here we go…

Ted began playing music with guitarist Bruce Brucato at a young age. By high school they had formed Rodan with Victor Marwin, Rick McGirr, and Bill Ludwig. Rodan were highly skilled players, performing the complex music of progressive rock bands like King Crimson, Genesis, Gentle Giant, ELP, Yes and Peter Gabriel; and even obscurities like early American prog rockers Touch. In 1973 they opened for Genesis, then on their first USA tour, who complimented them and proclaimed it to be the first time they’d ever heard of a band covering their music!

Rodan played regularly on Sunday nights at McVan’s in the mid-1970s, alongside bands like Pegasus, Black Sheep (with Lou Gramm) and Rasputin, Victor Marwin’s next project.

Rodan folded in 1977 and Reinhardt drummed for a while with future jazz/fusion superstars Spyro Gyra right before they cut their first album.

In 1980 Ted was part of a jazz fusion band called Taxi with horns and keyboards and guitarist Paul Viapiano but more importantly for his future: guitarist George Puleo.

Eventually Reinhardt reunited with Brucato and together with Puleo and Greg Piontek on bass formed Gamalon in 1982. Gamalon’s membership was fairly stable for a long time, though eventually more former Rodan members joined their ranks.

Puleo had other interests besides progressive rock and fusion. He was also into Soul / R&B sounds – for example, he played on a local LP by Modern Soul vocalist Johnny Mayes – and he was writing vocal songs which weren’t appropriate for the all-instrumental group.

In 1984 while still a member of Gamalon he went into Select Sound Studio with Chuck Madden as producer, bringing with him vocalist Flick Williams and members of Gamalon and especially Spyro Gyra. Ted Reinhardt played the drums alonside Spyro percussionist Gerardo Velez, who’d been a member of Jimi Hendrix’ Woodstock band.

The result was an album’s worth of Soul/ R&B /Rock tunes that had something of a resemblance to the current work of Prince. Modern soul, Rock and Boogie Funk were all part of the mix. George intended the album to serve as a demo and a calling card to the music industry, hoping to score a deal and build a career in different styles of music. Promotional copies were made but only a small quantity – maybe 100? The album was titled PUL-E-O, there was no record label name (or maybe the label name was ‘Puleo’) and a logo of that name was the entirety of the cover art.

Unfortunately George and Chuck Madden had a falling out and the album was never released. George received only a handful of copies. The rest seemed to have disappeared completely, locked up tight; or at least unavailable to anyone.

Two years later a 45 on Sequel Records, bearing a 2315 Elmwood Avenue address. “Lyin’ Louie” and “Salamanda” were two of the tracks from the Puleo album. This was apparently issued by Chuck Madden.

Some years later a copy of the original Puleo album turned up. Then another, and eventually a few more. There was a place for them to be numbered (it was intended as a numbered limited edition); some were numbered, some not. These found copies mostly made their way to Europe and Japan where collectors wanted the funky beats and grooves.

About 10 years ago a CD version started appearing on eBay and collector sites – a mini-LP covered version probably taken from a vinyl copy. It appears to have been unauthorized though one party (who should know has sugested it may have been somewhat authorized… by SOMEONE. I believe there’s a question of who owns the rights to this contested work.

When this album failed to appear it was a setback for George, who had put his heart an soul into it and pinned his hopes on it toward a recording career outside the limited world of hi-tech guitar and fusion. He continued to play with Gamalon until the mid-1990s, recording several albums with them. After leaving he joined some other bands and eventually formed his own Rock/Fusion group Haiku. Many Buffalonians have benefited from his guitar tutelage over the decades, something he still enjoys doing.

Ted of course continued to play with Gamalon and there were other bands along the way, like Willie & The Reinhardts. Some years ago there was a big reunion of all the Gamalon players, including George. Resulting videos can be seen on YouTube and feature some stellar playing- of course.

Today’s cut is from the 1986 PULEO single. “Lyin’ Louie” features guitar by George, vocals by Flick, bass by Jerry Livingston and drums by Ted Reinhardt. There are many album cuts and many live performances (see YouTube) by Ted, which show his monster drum chops. Here’s a rare occasion to hear him playing for the song alone. R.I.P.