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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Sal Valentino/The Beau Brummels

Okay, I've gotta admit it was a surprise to find this one in my digital archives.  I interviewed Sal Valentino, lead singer of The Beau Brummels, in 1998 for my ill-fated, unfinished history of Nuggets and the garage-bred rock 'n' roll of the 1960s.  Originally intended for Goldmine magazine, the whole project had to be abandoned and remains unfinished.  I would have bet you money that I never even completed transcribing my interview with Sal Valentino...yet here it is.  I adore the music of The Beau Brummels, and I'm delighted to finally let this previously-unpublished interview see the light of day.

The Beau Brummels, based in San Francisco, were lead singer Sal Valentino (nee Salvatore Spampinato), guitarist (and songwriter) Ron Elliott, guitarist Declan Mulligan, bassist Ron Meagher, and drummer John Petersen.  Their debut single, the unforgettable "Laugh, Laugh," was a hit in 1965, and the follow-up "Just A Little" charted even higher, breaking into Billboard's Top 10.  Success on the charts was brief,  but lasted long enough for the group to make the TV rounds on Shindig! and Hullabaloo, to appear in the sci-fi flick Village Of The Giants,and to achieve pop-culture immortality in animated form, as Wilma Flintstone and Betty Rubble's favorite rock band The Beau Brummelstones on an episode of The Flintstones.

Attrition depleted The Beau Brummels' ranks; only Valentino and Elliott remained by the time of the final Beau Brummels album, 1968's Bradley's Barn, and Elliott had actually ceased touring with the group in 1965, due to health issues.  But The Beau Brummels' recorded legacy is amazing, and has been rediscovered by pop fans over and over throughout the decades since.  
I'm not sure how well The Beau Brummels fit into this discussion of Nuggets bands. They seem to be a breed apart from The 13th Floor Elevators, or even The Standells or Raiders.

Yes, I agree with you.  I'm surprised that we're a part of this.  I'm glad we are--Rhino has always been good to us.  (laughs)  Like baseball's been good to me, Rhino's been good to me.

You started out as a baseball player, didn't you?

Yeah, my father grew up with Joe DiMaggio.  I started out playing baseball.  Then when I got to the high school I went to, the guy who was managing the team had a connection with the Dodgers.  He was giving scholarships to kids in junior high school who would play for him. I went out there, and I think there must have been 500 guys out there.  And in a few days I found out there was only a few that they were gonna need, they pretty much had all the players they wanted.  So that stopped baseball for me.  I played football, but I didn't play any more baseball.

Let's start from the beginning.  What was your own musical background before The Beau Brummels?

Well, I was in bands that played for dances.  Pretty much all the singing that I had done was standards.  That's where we were coming from.  I loved country music, country and western music.  I was really the only one on North Beach who listened to it.  My father liked it, and then my sophomore year in high school the coordinator for the sophomore class found out I sang and had wrote a song, so he told me I was gonna be part of the rally.  And I did the rally from then on.  And every once in a while I'd do something country there, but that was it.

You were a country music fan.  Were you also a rock fan?

Well, you know something (laughs), I never really thought we were a rock band, although we were part of rock 'n' roll.  But that was it.  Before that, the closest I think we'd come to doing anything rock-like was Skeeter Davis'song, "End Of The World,"  and that was a pop thing.  But literally, the rest of  everything we did was all standards.

And so, you know, the Brummels thing.  And then The Beatles had happened, and Declan Mulligan, the Irishman, was crazy about them and the way they were doing things and all.  And I'm pretty sure that's what influenced Ron to write some songs. 

You met Ron Elliott in grade school?

Yes, I met him...well, actually I think I was in high school already.  I think so.  I think maybe he was still an eighth-grader, or he was a freshman, I'm not sure.  No, I was 15, he was 13, that's what it was.  We both went to the same grammar school, and lived like two or three blocks away from each other. 

And your first single [as Sal Valentino and the Valentines] was "I Wanna Twist"/"Lisa Marie" in 1963.


Was that the first time you were billed as Sal Valentino?

Yeah (laughs).  Well, they needed a name (laughs).  They thought of Rudy Valentine, but my father says, "They'll think you're [Jewish]."  So they used Valentino.  He'd trained a fighter named Pat Valentino. 

Did you do any other recording before The Beau Brummels?

That was the only thing.

Did Ron ever sit in with Sal Valentino and the Valentines?

No.  There was never any Sal Valentino and the Valentines.  I'm pretty sure--I don't remember that. 

Did you have any band names under which you played out, prior to the start of The Beau Brummels?

No, not that I can remember.  We played, there was a guy named Joe Bretisani, an accordion player, and he got a lot of gigs, and we worked with him.  I introduced Ron to him.  I sang with him once in a while .  But with him, I think it was just Joe Bretisani and his Orchestra, or Band, or whatever it was.  And there was...I can't remember any other band names that we did.  We worked out some other bands, Ron and I and John, but I can't remember that we ever got to a point where we needed a name.

How did The Beau Brummels begin?

Well, we were playin' for these Irish dancers at this ballroom.  This man named John Hooley got a hold of one of us--it must have been Ron or John, it wasn't me--and he needed a band.  And he named us The Irish Californians.  And we did a few Irish songs, and the rest of the night we just played fox trots and waltzes and whatever.  And Declan showed up there one night, and he approached Ron and talked to him about wanting to put [together] a band, a group.  So Ron called me--as I remember it, that's the way it went--Ron called me, and asked me, and said if it happened, if I wanted to come out and rehearse, and said I was, I was welcome.  So I went out there, and we all sucked (laughs).  Ron still lives in the house where we rehearsed in the garage.  And then Ron Meagher and we rehearsed.  And I think the first gig we had, Ron Meager got for us, and I don't remember anybody showin' up.  Maybe there was four or five people who showed up or something.  And then I got us a Monday night [gig] down in North Beach at the El Cid.  And that's where we came up with the name, Beau Brummels.  Declan was the one that came up with it.  And we worked there, I can't remember if it was two or three Monday nights, and the next place we played was the Morocco Room in San Mateo.

I think I read somewhere that you had to move from the El Cid because Ron Meagher was too young to play there.

Well, Ron Meagher, John, and Elliott were all too young, yeah.  That was the end of that.

The Beau Brummels are often referred to as the first American band to effectively respond to the British Invasion.  How conscious was that?

You know, Ron wrote the songs so I can't say.  I can't say that we weren't enthusiastic and that we weren't enamored with what The Beatles were doing, you know, it was new and it was exciting.  I think the best way it was put was that we were the first American band to capture the English sound.  And I don't know if we were necessarily doing that, but I'm sure Ron--I don't know if he would admit it, but I'm sure he was influenced or inspired by The Beatles and the English stuff, because so much of it was going on.  And also Declan was really quite enamored with it, and we did a lot of English stuff. 

What were the early Beau Brummels live shows like?  What was on your set lists?

We always had, I think when we were playing the Morocco Room, or not long after we started playing there, we were probably doing maybe 10, 15 original songs.  And then the rest of the songs were Beatles songs, some English songs, maybe some Everly Brothers we did, and some Crickets, Buddy Holly.  That pretty much covered it.

Do any live recordings of The Beau Brummels exist from this era?

No.  If there is, I don't know about them.  There's stuff from the '70s, when we did that [reunion album], but from the '60s, I don't think so.  It just wasn't being done.

The Beau Brummels signed with Autumn Records, a label run by DJs Tom Donahue and Bob Mitchell.  How did you connect with Donahue and Mitchell?

Tom always told the story that a hooker turned him on to The Beau Brummels.  And I didn't know that she was a hooker, but she had an act down on North Beach.  He was living in the house of the guy that owned the Morocco Room with his father.  And he had this big house, and she was up there for a period of time.  And so she ran into Tom one night in North Beach, and she told him about us.  And he came out to see us.  And he brought Bob Mitchell out, and Carl Scott, and then Sly [Sylvester Stewart, later to become famous as Sly Stone].  And they wanted to sign us.

We were good.  We had a pretty good following down there.  People really liked us, and they liked what we were doing.  It was kind of isolated.  We were probably the first band to do that much of that material.  Still, you have to remember that Motown was happening at that time.  There was a guy playing down the street, he was doing a lot of  James Brown.  We were the only real white band in town, and probably not the best band in town. 

Tell us a bit about recording "Laugh, Laugh" and your debut album.  You already had some studio experience; you had recorded your solo single before that, and John Petersen had recorded a couple of tracks with his previous band, The Sparklers. Had the other members of The Beau Brummels been in a recording studio before?

I don't know.  I don't know if Declan had been--probably he'd be the only one that might have been.  I don't know if Ron had.  Ron was part of a duo with this guy named John Francogiotta.  And they did talent shows. 

How was Sly Stone to work with as a producer?

It was great.  We were pretty scared, probably, and Sly listened to everything, he encouraged us, he was really into the material, he loved my singing.  He liked the whole thing, and he made it work.

What did you think of the record?

(laughs)  I don't know, to tell you the truth.  Because, you know, it's not like I didn't hear it finished, because I think we were only using three-tracks, or maybe four tracks.  So it was pretty much done.  We had done some recording prior to doing the album.  That guy, Rich Romanello, had taken us down to Gold Star, and we had recorded four songs there.  Probably one of 'em was"Laugh, Laugh," and another, "Stick Like Glue," and a song called "People Are Cruel." and then...I don't remember.  Maybe it was three.  That was the only other time we had been in the studio.  And that was pretty [cool], you know, it was where Phil Spector had recorded.  And we went in there, and we did all right. 

Going into the studio, I'm sure we pretty much just did what we had been doing live, since we were playing four nights a week.  That was a lot for us.  

I would presume you did a lot of touring around this time.

No, we didn't.  Actually, when we did the album and released the single, they kept us home, I think until it broke into the Top 20.  I think it was released in September or October, and we didn't play until probably the spring, the first time we did a concert.  And that was right here in Sacramento. 

Did you buzz the country after that?

Yeah, we did some.  And then that slowed down because Ron's health wasn't holding up.  Plus the fact that he didn't really wanna do that, he wanted to stay home and write.  And it slowed us down a little, because we kept on having to find guys to replace him.  And, I think,  one of the guys from The Vejtables we used, I forget his name, Ray Sheik, we used.  Somebody always tells me about somebody else, I can't remember him.

Don Irving?

He was the last one we had, yeah.  He's on the Warners albums.  He's on all the stuff that didn't get released.  Because when we went to Warner Brothers we thought we had an album ready, and they wanted to do this other album.  A lot of that stuff now you can hear on Sundazed [the San Fran Sessions collection].  I think almost everything that we were gonna do for the third album is on there, in one way or another. 

How much, if any, of that stuff surfaced on the Vault LP, Vol. 44?

Good question.  I think there's a song called "Dream On, Dream On" that was on there.  Was "Fine With Me" on there?

I've never even seen a copy.

I doubt it.  I don't think so.  Because before, it was between doing the first album and starting the second album, I think we had like 40 or 50 songs.  And "Dream On" was of that bunch.  No, I don't anything from the third album would've been on there.

Let's see...according to Rhino, "Gentle Wandering Ways" and an earlier version of "Fine With Me" were on Vol. 44.

Yeah.  And "Gentle Wandering Ways" wasn't gonna go on the third album. At least, as far as I knew it wasn't.  "Fine With Me" was gonna go on, "Let Me In" was another song, "Hey Love"was another that was gonna go on there.   I know we had six or seven that were gonna go on there; I just can't remember what they were.

The band also appeared in the movie Village Of The Giants around this time, playing "Women" and "When It Comes To Your Love" for some frugging giant ducks.  How did that come to pass?

Oh, our manager was into the movies.  He got us that.  We also did a thing called Wild, Wild Winter.  And Beach Blanket Bingo, or Beach Blanket something, we did another one.  That was it.  And then the Hanna-Barbera thing.

Yeah, The Beau Brummelstones on The Flintstones!  That's an amazing pop cultural reference point right there.

Yeah, I think that's my favorite of all the things that I've been a part of.  I mean, how many times are you gonna get animated?  And I think they were gonna do a bunch of bands, but they never got to it. 
Couldn't have been a very high-paying gig, I'd imagine.

I don't know, we got some sort of scale for doing those things.  It wasn't big money by any means.  I think most all of those TV shows we did pretty much for nothing; if we did 'em for anything, maybe they'd pay for us to go back to L.A. to be on Hullabaloo. 

One of the Rhino Shindig! home videos includes a nice clip of you doing "Laugh, Laugh."

That was a favorite, Shindig!, because they'd bring you in, you'd re-record the track, and then you'd sing live.  Hullabaloo was New York, and they were using us, you know.  Shindig! was the real thing.

Why did Declan leave the band?

Well, Declan wasn't happy with things.  And he got on the wrong side of Elliot finally, because Elliott was his supporter.  Declan thought he should be doing more.  I didn't have anything to do with it--well, none of us had, anyway, that I know of, maybe Ron did.  But Tom and Bob pretty much handled all of that.  All I had to do was sing what I had to sing, and that was that.  But yeah, he was not happy.

How did his departure change the dynamics of the band, both on stage and in the studio?

Well, it might have taken a big chunk out of the dynamics, because, like I say, Ron was kind of fond of Declan.  So you could probably notice it on the second album.  The second album is noticeably different than the first; it's a little more...moodier, or something.  Declan was kind of an energy source.  He had his own way of doing things. 

Was Declan still with the band when you recorded "You Tell Me Why," "Don't Talk To Strangers," and "Good Time Music"/"Sad Little Girl," your final singles for Autumn?

No.  And "Sad Little Girl" had been talked about as the third single for as long as I could remember.  And then they just backed off of it.  I don't know why.  Autumn was starting to come apart about then, so the decision-making was somewhere removed from where it had been, anyway.  It could have worked, it was a good summer song.  It could have worked.  But things started to come apart then, and without our knowing it.  It started to come apart before we realized it, and before we knew, things were getting really weird.  Like that third album, we'd been working on it, and they put the tapes up for auction,  which was a bit of a shock.  And then that's when we got moved to Warner Brothers.

How weird was that, to suddenly find yourself on another label after coming back from a tour?

Well, after all that happened, we were glad we were goin' somewhere!  But we didn't realize at the time what it was going to be like.  They didn't get any of the catalog.  They got none of the hits.  So it was a little awkward, especially at first.

Did you have any further contact with Tom Donahue or Bob Mitchell?

No, Bob died.  And then Tom, he did the FM thing.  And then he got me another deal with Stoneground [Valentino's post-Brummels band].  In fact, Tom died just when we released that '75 album.  So, I saw him.  He did a series of shows, and he had John Mayall do a show, and he had Johnny Nash do a show, and I did one.  Tom got me the only deals I ever had, in my life.

Beau Brummels '66:  In retrospect, an all-covers album seems like a really bad idea. Did it seem so at the time?

From my viewpoint, it seemed to me that we were glad we were doin' something, because it looked like it was just abruptly The End not too long before that.  And, you know, we were just told that that's what we were gonna do, that's what they wanted to do.  In the past, someone had pretty much decided what was gonna be done for us; so, when it was decided that we weren't gonna do the album that we were workin' on, we just--with the exception of Elliott--went with it.  Ron was a little bent out of shape about doing that.

Think about what they [Warner Brothers] had as artists then.  They had Connie Stevens, Kookie Byrnes, I guess Kenny Rogers, he was there I think, and the rest of it was Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and their promotion men, all they had to do was walk up to the door at a radio station and they'd be welcomed with those records.  But they didn't know anything about promoting records; they weren't those kind of guys, you know, the guys in sharkskin suits with big cuff-links [laughs].  You know, Tom told me:  at Warner Brothers, they always made the same kind of mistake, and he was right on the money.  When they got Joe Smith, as Tom says, Joe Smith was the best promotion man in the country.  And Warner Brothers gets him, and they make him president.  They take away their best promotion man.  The next thing they do is they take their best guy out of Chicago and they put him in L.A.; he goes down like a rock.  And then there was a guy they had in New York who was their best guy there, and they brought him out to L.A. They just kept killing their older market.  They didn't know what they were doing.  And it's funny, listening to Tom me tell this, and there I am on my way to this label. What am I going to do if they don't know what to do?  And the thing about being with Tom and Bob and Sly was that they knew what to do.  And also, Tom and Bob had favors that had to be returned from their past, and they made that thing work.  They knew what they were doing.  And when we went to Warner Brothers, it was hopeless.  There was nothing we could do, it seemed.  I'm not sure if we were a bit intimidated by the fact that we were on Warner Brothers.  And our manager, he was thrilled to be there.  He's still there, as a matter of fact.  He wound up managing Harper's Bizarre, and had a lot to do with Van Halen.  Are they still a record company?  It seems to me they're all guys counting their stocks.

John Petersen left The Beau Brummels after Beau Brummels '66.  How did the band plan to re-invent itself at this point?

There was no band.  We went on making records with [producer] Lenny [Waronker] because he wanted to.  And I was enjoying what we were doing.  Working with Lenny was great, and I was making a living in L.A.  But what I probably should have done is put a band together and gone around and worked.  But I didn't, and Elliott didn't wanna do that.  So it just sort of came to a standstill.  I got tired of making records there, and of them not being able to sell them.  I was starting to feel uneasy about making records, making records, and then not being able to pay for them, sell them.  And I shouldn't have done that.  I should have stuck it out, and let them stick it out with me.  But I didn't.  I just came back North and forgot about it.

But next come Triangle and Bradley's Barn, two critically-acclaimed albums.  Tell us about the recording of these albums.

Triangle was unfortunate.  It came out just before Sgt. Pepper.  And, including me, I didn't listen to much else besides that.  Bradley's Barn was just another one that was lost.  Things always seem to have good intentions, but it was just around that period where they were starting to come up with the idea of selling Randy's album for a dollar and 32 cents or something.  They were gonna do one of those, they had planned one of those samplers for me, but I left before it got done.  But we shouldn't've stopped. I just lost track of what was important.  And that was that.

The Beau Brummels ended after Bradley's Barn.  But you and Ron Elliott did a few more projects together, including your solo singles and Ron's album The Candlestickmaker.
Well no, not with Ron.  I did a couple, Van Dyke [Parks] was involved with a couple, and Lenny, "Alligator Man" and "Friends And Lovers."  And I did a single with Joe Wizard [??], a couple songs of mine--in fact, I did four things with Joe.  I'm hopin' that some of them get released someday.

What prompted the 1975 Beau Brummels reunion?  Ron Meagher is credited for guitar and vocals on that album, but isn't as a member of the group.  Why?

Well, it was odd.  I was up here, I was in Northern California, and Ron came and said he wanted to do The Beau Brummels.  And I said, "Well, how do you want to do it?"  And he said, "With the original guys."  And I said, "Ron, I don't know if that's gonna work." because it didn't [the first time].  Lenny Waronoker didn't have John play with any of our stuff--he didn't play, actually, with any of the Harper's stuff--and my first instinct was, well, why don't we do the record and then come back and get these guys.  And he says, "No, it's gotta be everybody."  So, Ron Meagher was playing guitar then, he and Declan had a band called The Black Velvet Band, that was a trio, they were doin' pretty good.  And Ron came up here and wanted everybody to stop everything and get on this trip with him.  And so, like I say, Ron Meagher was playing guitar, pretty much just doing copy stuff.  And I asked Ron at one point, "Are you sure he's gonna be all right?"  He says, "Yeah, I'll work with him."  Well, it got to the point that we were gonna make the record, Ron hadn't really progressed much.  And the next thing I knew, he was being fired.  It was pretty upsetting, actually.  And Ron brought in Dan Levitt, and Dan Levitt was the guy that played with us until they fired John Peterson.  They fired Declan.  I was the last to get fired.  But that's what happened; Ron Meagher didn't cut it, in spite of himself.

Did you have plans to stick together after that album?

Yes.  I did while John was still there, but then John found out that he was going to be replaced and quit.  And so then I was stuck with Ron.  I knew Ron didn't wanna play.  And so when we finally got back from the last bunch of dates we did, Ron had this guy Al Schwartz, who was going to be Rainbow's manager or somebody's manager.  And we were gonna get a record deal with a new band.  I can't remember what it was gonna be called, but Ron had a bunch of songs.  And we went in and started recording some of the songs, and at some point they didn't like what I was doing, so I left.  And it turned out to be a band called The Giants.  I don't remember who they did the album for--it might have been Curb, I'm not sure.  I don't think it was Warner Brothers.  But they got another singer. It didn't go anywhere.  And that was it.  I didn't want to be in The Beau Brummels at that point. 

I was just listening to that 1975 reunion album, a record I didn't much care for originally.  But it's held up very well.  I like it better now than I did when I first heard it.

It might not have been what you expected, or what you wanted.  The album was a singer and some songs, that was basically what it was, because we never performed that stuff that much.  All we did was rehearse until the thing was released.  Everybody was unhappy about it.  In fact, Warner Brothers gave the album to Elliott.

There have been sporadic regroupings of The Beau Brummels over the years, generally including only a few original members at a time.  Is there a current edition of the group? 

Not that I know of.  Declan was doing that in San Francisco for a while.  It's kind of funny, you know (laughs); he got thrown out of the band twice, or left the band twice, and he winds up using the name for about 15 years.  They got a hold of me and I went up there and played with him for a while, and I just stopped doing it.  It wasn't going anywhere.  I like Declan, and Declan is playing and singing and writing better than I'd ever heard him, but he had this manager, and him and his manager had their own ideas about what they wanted to do, and they decided they could do it without me.  And I think Ron played with them a couple of times,too, but Ron never stayed too long.  He never liked playin' live much.  I've done some dates in the last three years--I did one this year--and that's about it.  I did some dates with Donnie Brooks and some of his kind of revues. 

I've heard reports of less-than-cordial relations between some of the original band members.  How likely or unlikely is a full-band reunion, even a one-off?

Not too likely.  I really don't think any of us has the energy to try and do it again.  From time to time John Peterson talks like he wants to do it.  But it's a sad story.  When I was playing with Declan, I think this was in the '80s or so, I came North because my father was dying, and we were playing at the Abbey in San Francisco.  John Peterson was in town one night, and he was in his truck comin' over to see us.  And this guy ran a stop light, broad-sided him, and broke his neck.  And he's been in and out of alcohol rehab a couple of times, He's never been right since.  I saw him a few years ago, and he was talkin' about it then, he wanted to do it, and he didn't want to do it.  Ron, from what I've heard--I haven't seen Ron or talked with him--has lost the use of one of his arms, from the diabetes.  And he doesn't even do music anymore, he doesn't have a guitar.  He's a painter.  Ron Meagher, I did a date up here, and he came up here with his sisters.  And actually I did a date,  just South of San Francisco, and Ron showed.  I got Ron in, and it turned out they asked him to play harmonica on "Laugh, Laugh."  So he wound up on stage with me.  It was kind of a thrill, because he had his son there, and he was happy about that.  I don't know what Declan' doing.  Declan always seems to have a band, you know, he just mostly plays Irish places.  So I don't think it's very likely, for one reason or another. 

Back in the mid-'70s, how did you think rock history would remember The Beau Brummels?

In the '70s?  I think the only thing I thought about that I was surprised that we were actually part of rock 'n' roll history.  That's a lot more than I ever bargained for.  I certainly never imagined that I'd still be talking about "Laugh, Laugh," let alone still singing it; people still wanting to hear it, it still being played on the radio.  At the time, and it's still the way I feel now:  thrilled to have been a part of it.  But, if  you'd have asked me that 30 years ago when we did it, even that it was hit, would I be singing it 30 years from now, I'd have said, "No, I don't think so." Because I couldn't imagine it.  It's amazing, especially "Laugh, Laugh."  I mean, because every once in a while I hear it (laughs)!

What are you doing nowadays?

Right now I'm working on a CD, finally.  Everything's so different now.  I was talking to somebody recently, talking about what it was like, or what it's like now, and I said, "Well, I'm gonna do a CD."  But, you know, everybody does CDs now, anybody can do one and it seems like everybody has done one.  It's different than when I started; we were making records at a time when a few people were chosen to do it.  And we were real lucky that we were one of those.  Now I'm doing a CD; I don't know if anybody wants to hear it, but I'm gonna do it.  I'm doing it with a guy that I played with in a band called Stoneground; his name is John Blakeley. He's played with a few different people.  He has a studio in the city, and we've always wanted to do this, and so we've finally gotten to do it.  The idea germinated a couple of years ago, but shortly after we talked about doing it John had to get his heart replaced.  So he's sort of been on the mend, and we just finally got started three months ago.

Are you going to release it yourself, or are you going to shop it to a label?

Well, it's hard to say.  I'd like Lenny to hear it.  We're trying to decide what to do with it.  I'm almost inclined to do it myself, sort of collect information from people who've done it themselves.  And I almost wanna do that.  And then, on the other hand, there are some small labels that might be interested in it. 

POSTSCRIPT:  Sal Valentino has released three solo albums since this interview:  Dreamin' Man and Come Out Tonight in 2006, and Every Now And Then in 2008.