My experience was that of a completely self taught engineer, and Tom Pomposello’s was less. We’d been in high school rock bands, so we’d used microphones and cheap mixers for our live gigs. Between 1969 and November 197, I’d observed one professional recording, and recorded as much as I could in my college radio station (WKCR-FM, Columbia University in New York City) using equipment meant mainly for playback or recording of news interviews. Most of the sessions were small jazz groups, maybe three to five musicians, and a few rock or folk sessions. Everything was monophonic or 2-track stereo, so there was virtually no ability for the kind of overdubbing and multi-tracking we’d read about in Rolling Stone. And I’d never done a “live” recording.
The “Live in New York" Nagra recorder
When Tom told me about his bass gig with Fred at the Village Gaslight I’d never heard of Mississippi Fred McDowell and I knew nothing about the country blues (though I figured anyone with “Mississippi” in his name, playing in a well known village club must be famous). He convinced me it would be a great, exclusive for my Saturday blues show. Sure.
Basically, I had to steal WKCR's coveted Nagra 4.2 monaural machine to make the date. I knew I was not of sufficient stature at the radio station to warrant a key to the recording closet where the recording equipment was stored. None of the management would think I was senior enough to use their precious Nagra, meant only for the most important news assignments (Columbia was still in the throes of the 1968 campus riots, and WKCR had been lauded for it’s coverage. Some extraordinary funding had bought the recorder to convey a semi-professional status on the news department). Somehow or other my pal Roy Langbord and I quietly weaseled our way into the cabinet, quickly pulled out a few mikes, an OK Shure M68 mixer, and the Nagra.
We ran out, grabbed a cab (Roy and I split the more-than-we-could-afford taxi) and sprinted down to the Village. We set up while Bonnie Raitt was doing her sound check (her last gig before her first album; she and Fred shared Dick Waterman as a manager). Both Fred and Tom had tiny amps (I would say about four foot square), and I taped a second mike (an Electro-Voice 655, like Freddy King uses on the cover of “My Feeling For The Blues”) to Fred’s vocal PA mike, did a very short level check and we were off to the races.0 comments Tagged: Live in New York, OD-1, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Village Gaslight, WKCR, recording, Tom Pomposello,.