Portable People

These are some songs from a recording I made circa 1968 of Portable People at the Stage Door in Henrietta, NY. I was in the left spotlight tower working the spotlight. My brother’s band, Bus Stop, opened up for them. It was a real thrill for me, a 14 yr old kid, to work a giant spotlight at this gig! If anyone wants to research the exact date of this gig, I remember that the Spencer Davis Group played there the night before.

The tape deck used to record this was an inexpensive Mayfair 7″ reel-to-reel which my parents bought for me as a Christmas present from Naum Brothers (anyone remember them?). One mic was a Shure shotgun (similar to today’s SM-57) which I bought at Benson Music and I don’t remember what the other mic was. Unfortunately, the quality is pretty poor, but not terrible considering this is a 40+ year old tape. Also, I couldn’t keep an constant eye on the levels since I was also working the spotlight. I transferred to digital with a Teac A-1200 into a Roland Quad-Capture interface. I tried my best to restore the songs using Samplitude, Magix’s restoration suite, and various eq’s and compressors. I think the final result is pretty good job especially considering the quality of the raw audio. There was nothing but noise and hiss above 9kH and mostly rumble below 180h.

15 comments

  1. Keltie Ziccardi (Gervasi) says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. My maiden name is Gervasi and Jerrey who was aka the Beak was one of the singers for the portable people was my uncle. He has long since past but I love how you and so many others keep him alive. Thank you

    • Don says:

      Thank you for the information, Keltie. I had no idea either Jerry or Roger had passed and am saddened. I’m happy to post the songs!

  2. Arnie Palumbo says:

    Thanks for the Portable People stuff you have on this page. We go way back, and I mean way back! My dad played with Rogers dad in a band in the 1940′s when he lived in Rochester and they toured the east until they all got drafted! Roger and the entire band was family to us here in Buffalo. They would come into town and we would play touch football and feed the guys before they played at Gilligans. I even went to Phoenix and stayed with him for a week after driving his moms car down from here! Bernice was a cool lady and his dad Joe was a good trumpet player as well. I was sadddened by Rogers death since I never knew he passed until his step sister called me from Phoenix. Lots more to tell you if you’re interested.
    Arnie

    • Don says:

      Thanks for that very interesting Portable People trivia, Arnie! I’m very sorry to hear that Roger has passed. I was quite young when I heard them but really liked the band. Their music reminded me somewhat of Vanilla Fudge.

  3. James Gervasi says:

    I just want to say thank you to all of you for helping to keep my kid brothers music alive. Keltie and I went to Rochester after my being away for 40 years. We visited Jerrey’s gravesite and left him an angle… Again thank you… I am sure you all loved him and the music he sang as much as I did (still do). Going to drop a line to Johnny D and send him some pictures and a letter of how much we miss the Portable People…. Jimmy

    • Don says:

      My pleasure, Jimmy. They were a great band and all of them were excellent musicians!

      Just to make sure all of you know, Carl has set up a PP Facebook page:
      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Portable-People/174143195997063?ref=stream

      • Jim says:

        Thank You for posting this Don. I believe Carl set up the ReverbNation band page as well. Just type in Portable People in the search and it will come up. My brother Bill Gillen (Froggy or Bone) played Trombone in the group from ’71 on to ’76. Played with Roger for a long time in Phoenix as well. Frog moved there in ’80.
        Roger passed Nov. 2nd, 2001. I was shocked when my brother called me and gave me the news. My brother also passed away Feb. 2011 in Phoenix. John Di Tondo, Ted Stanton, Bob Brown (as far as I know), Carl Freedman, Christian-Charles de Plicque , Chet Catallo are still with us! :)

        • Don says:

          I think I remember seeing the later band with Carl and the horns, but it’s very vague. I had no idea Chet Catallo was ever with them..

          • Arnie says:

            Pretty sure Chet was never with the band. He was a friend of them and was in Spyro Gyra here in Buffalo, NY.

    • Arnie says:

      Hi Jim! Never knew Jerry had a brother, but He was quite the character for sure! I hope you have a copy of the tape I sent to Jim Carney a while back that was recorded here in Buffalo, NY. If you listen to the last song after it finishes, there is a 20 second silence. Jerry them says, ‘Nevermind, stir the sauce.’ The reference is to my mom who made sauce for the guys when they came into town! I laugh evertime I hear it. Jerry was a great singer with a strong voice. Wish he were still here as well as Roger. I remember the guy ‘Froggy’ as well, but I think he was only over the house once here. Take care, Arnie

  4. Scott Miner says:

    OMG!!!!Don, thank you so much for posting this link! I’ve been in touch with Keltie,Carl Freedman (Catfish), and a woman named Linda Stevens who was a friend of the bands back in the Sixties.The first time I saw the PP was at the Canteen in Lake George,NY. The band was unusual in that they had no guitars…just John on Hammond organ, Charlie on Fender Rhoades, and two drummers..Roger and (Ponz?)with Jerry on vocals. When they played ‘Hey Joe’ there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, I was crying so hard,I had to go outside! Never had a band affect me that way either before or since. So great to hear these tunes!!! Thanks again Don!

    • Don says:

      My pleasure, Scott. You’re describing the version of the band that is recorded here. I’m pretty sure Charlie’s piano was a Wurlitzer though and it was overdriven so much that it almost sounded like a guitar.

      • Scott Miner says:

        Don,I’m sure you’re right about Charlie’s piano, any chance you’ve got any photos from back then? I’ve gotten some from Keltie of Jerry and I’ll be contacting
        John now that Carl has given me his address.Thanks again to both you and Carl for sharing the music of this awesome group!

        • Don says:

          I don’t have any PP photos, Scott. I’d like to see the ones you have sometime though. I saw Johnny about 15yrs ago and mentioned the tape. He said he wanted a copy but I don’t think I ever got one to him. I hope someone can send him a copy of the songs here.

          • scott miner says:

            I’m writing a letter and will mail some photos and a CD of these tunes to John. I miss the band and their music, hope to find out what John’s been doing.

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