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Analog Fog II Descends Over Albany

One year ago, Albany revisited its musical past. Mid-1960s era local bands reformed to perform again. "Analog Fog" was such a success, they decided an encore was in order.   "Analog Fog II" is coming up later this month...

"When you play in a rock and roll band when you're younger, especially in the 60s, it was almost more important to be in a rock and roll band than it was to be on the football team. Once you start playing, it's something that you carry through your life. We all had meager beginnings. I started in a band and we called it the Shan-dels, and I was the proud owner of a $35 snare drum and a metal cookie box that I used for a cymbal. But as time went on, the band developed, we caught a break..."   Steve Colfer's band was re-named the Gray Thingsand cut a record that became a local radio hit. The group's signature song "Charity" lives on today in various garage band and psychedelic music compilation albums, and of course on YouTube. The band headlined 2015's "Analog Fog."  Colfer quips ,"Rock and roll man, it lives forever, and I'm glad I'm a part of it."

The Gray Things won't be back this time around but several former tri-cities teen sensations will rock on in their absence.   Analog Fog II falls on the same year that grads of two of Albany’s biggest, but now defunct high schools, Vincentian and Cardinal McCloskey, celebrate the 50th reunions of the class of '66.

Credit facebook

Jimmy Krug played with the Sabres, a favorite at mid-60s high school dances.   "After we got out of high school, we jumped into the nightclub scene, we played a long time at Yezzi's right across from VI, we did a couple gigs at the University Twist Palace on Northern Boulevard, then we kinda split up and went our own ways."

Individual band members went on have families and 9 to 5 jobs but the lure of rock could not be ignored.  "I got away from it for a lot of years. I just started gettin' back into it this year when I found out about this.

Dave Lucas:  "So how is it being back?"

Krug: "It feels good really, it feels good"

Dave Lucas: "Does it seem like half a century has passed?"

Krug: "It seems like just yesterday we were playin' together."

From the success of last year’s concert, the musicians know peers enjoy tunes that help them momentarily relive teen life and love and hear the same bands that played before them when they were kids.    "Yeah we had a lot of conversations at Analog Fog last year. There were faces I hadn't seen for 40 years there."

Credit VI '68 Yearbook
The Chord-A-Roys play "The Haunted Happening" at Vincentian High School, circa 1967. Bernie Mulleda, center.

Rhythm guitarist Vinny Franconeri was open of the original Chord-A-Roys, eventually landing on his musical feet as a trumpeter with Chazy Westport System, one of the first groups in upstate New York to incorporate horns as an eight-piece band during the late 60's and early 70's.  "I'm one of the few of the group here that foolishly put their instruments down many years ago. And like Jimmy said he's startin' to play again. I'm startin' to play again too ...  These get togethers like we're doing now, they're very exciting for me. The Chord-A-Roys had a reunion in 1990 and that was a big highlight of my musical life. At that time I kind of regretted the fact that I had set my instruments down for all those years."

Jimmy Hyde played with the Chord-A-Roys and Apple Corps.   "When I was real young I remember my brother had an album 'Santo and Johnny,' and I remember lookin' at the cover and I loved the look of the guitar, and I got one for Christmas that year, and then one day out of the blue Jimmy Rocco called me up and said he's startin' a band, do I wanna play with him? And after that, every Friday night for the next eight years we played down in his basement, practicin', practicin'."

Credit VI '68 Yearbook
The late Jimmy Rocco - drummin up a storm at the "Haunted Happening."

Hyde credits a high school talent show at Vincentian with kickstarting the Chord-A-Roys.   "One of the brothers says 'Well why don't you name it Hyde and the Jekylls?' So that was our name goin' in to the talent show, and then after he heard us practicing he said 'I shouldn't done that, I shoul have kept it the Chord-A-Roys 'cause you guys are too good for that gimmick. We won that talent show and after that we could get just about every job we wanted at VI and moved on to CBA and Cardinal McCloskey too."

Bob Sbuttoni played keyboard for the Chord-A-Roys, suceeding Matt Murphy. Sbuttoni's musical history includes six years of accordion lessons.   "...at the old Hilton's music store on Columbia Street, downtown Albany. Got into high school, I was about 16 years old, I said 'Geez I'm gonna join a rock band.' So I got a job during the summer, saved some money, picked up a Vox organ, double keyboard and I stated playin' in rock bands after that."

Chord-A-Roys lead guitarist Bernie Mulleda of Skip Parsons' Riverboat Jazz Band fame has been a staple of Albany's music scene for... decades !    "I'm a sideman. I've had a career. I sort of teach and I do a little production work and I work as a sideman for groups and singers, and I've sort of carved out a career, such as it is in that way."

Mulleda was on the team that helped assemble "The Neighborhood That Disappeared," a documentary about how Albany's South End was replaced by the Empire State Plaza.

Chord-A-Roy Dick Cronin, formerly of the El Dorado's:   "I was in the Chord-A-Roys for a couple of months before we combined the two bands and then we became the Apple Corps, the Chazy Westport System. Then I stopped for awhile because my thing was more writing and production, although I was the lead singer. I started writing songs in 1964."

With no shortage of experience and an abundance of talent,  Steve Colfer says these lost boys of rock, roll and high school nostalgia will put on one more show...

Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016 from 2 p.m. until who knows when at The Hollow Bar & Kitchen, 79 North Pearl Street, Albany, NY 12207

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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