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.