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cover Zerfas : Zerfas

Moe's Original Studio Session Notes

(1994 re-issue)

Want some Zerfas trivia? The following dated notes were taken from the 700 West studio logbook and gig sheets. The items with bullets are recent reflections, of possible interest to buffs.

The Zerfas connection began when the studio solicited its early business in part by sending letters to prospects on the local union "leader list". Throughout the Zerfas album sessions, the studio was constantly undergoing improvements; wall treatments, mic upgrades, monitor speaker revisions, new signal processing equipment constructed (and eagerly used by Dave, Herman & Company), etc,.

Zerfas and 700 West. We grew up together.

9/19/72 - Dave Zerfas ("Jubal") responds to direct mail ad to union musicians with studio visit. Was sufficiently impressed to want studio time, soon.
10/3/72 - Jubal visit.
12/2/72 - Dave called to say group won't be ready til Jan. '73
1/20/73 - Dave called to say they're ready to go on LP.

  • The mics used early in the project reflected the shoestring nature of this new business; AKG D190E dynamics, 700 West C7 condensors (handmade double button cardiod mics), EV 1711 electret condenser omnis. Unfortunately for Zerfas the Neumann U-47 was to come after this album project was finished - but they did get about 2 months use of the Sony C37A condenser mic purchased about midway thru the project. For the Techno-Zerfs; the main recorder was a 3M four-tracker, Model 400; transfers and submasters were handled by a highly modified Magnecorder PT6-H. Most selections utilized the "4-to-2-to-4" transfer method, when standard track bouncing on the 3M wasn't enough. The mastering tape used for the project was Audiotape 2506 (similar to Ampex 456 "Grand Master", but 2 years ahead of it) and after 20 years of storage the back coating on the submasters is beginning to shed - not too many plays left in the old stuff! The console was a modular, totally patchable, homebuilt 4x2 with shelving eq, with integrated Teletronics LA-3A compressors. (20 years later, it's in constant use by my son and his group!) The reverb devices were homebuilt stretched plates similar to the EMT units. The backwards reverb effect on "Stoney Willitz" is representative of what they could do.

1/24 & 1/25 - Jubal gigs
1/30 - visit.
2/1, 2/4 & 2/5 - gigs.
2/6 - remix in aft.
2/11 - visit.
2/13 - mix.
2/14, 2/15 & 2/17 - Zerfas gigs; Dave & Herman & I worked on some (radio station) WTLC logs (spec'd.).
2/18 & 2/19 - Zerfas visits to listen.
2/20 - Zerfas gig.
2/21 - Dave Zerfas on Jerry Griffith 45.
2/24 - Herman & Dave noodled with material for a 45.
2/26 - Dave Zerfas o'dubs for Kelso gospel job.
2/28 - Zerfas gig - started 45 tune.
3/4 - Dave drums on Redmon gospel gig.
3/5 - visit.
3/6 - mix of "Higher".
3/7 - I did lead sheet to "Higher".
3/8 & 3/9 - gigs.
3/10 - mix of #2 tune (transfer).
3/11 - gig.
3/13 - gig, but no recording accomplished.
3/17 - repair and mix of "You Never Win" - material for 45 essentially ready to go. Both tunes submastered.
3/22 & 3/24 - gigs.
3/28 - gig & edit.
4/7, 4/14 & 4/15 - gigs.
4/21 - album mix, Interlude development and record. One side complete.
4/28 - gig.
4/29 - purchase Sony C-37A.
4/30 - gig - started new tune.
5/15, 5/17, 5/19 & 5/21 - gigs.
6/1, 6/2, 6/3, 6/4 & 6/9 - gigs.
6/15, 6/16, 6/19, 6/21 & 6/24 - gigs.
6/26 - Dave puts percussion trax on "Incident".
6/29 & 6/30 - gigs.
7/1 - gig. Finished album. Dave did drums on Longspur tune.
7/9 - Dave did drums on "Wine".
7/10 - Zerfas subs ready to go.

  • Because of delivery problems with our then-current record pressing service, we decided to switch allegiance to Houston Records - on a tip from a gospel client. Zerfas was to be the guinea pig! (It turned out to be a good choice. The relationship with Houston/Riverside was to continue for 5 more years...)

7/11 - albums ordered (500 copies). Tapes mailed to Houston Records.

  • Zerfas becomes 700 West part #730710 - our first!

7/12 Zerfas jacket artwork mailed to Houston. "The Piper" lead sheet finished. "I Don't Understand" lead sheet started.
7/14 - Herman tried vocal on "Incident".
7/23 - record status call to Houston. Test pressings due later this week.
7/27 - test pressings and jacket slicks arrived.

  • The Zerfas album project had a gestation period of nearly 6 months in 54 sessions from January to July 1973. During the album project, Dave & Herman were in the studio about a dozen more times as session musicians on various jobs!

7/29 - Dave helped with backups on "Wine".
8/1 - Herman put lead voc on "Make A Little Wine". (Available on 700 West album #760704 and single #730820.)
8/11 - finished LPs shipped from Houston.
8/13 - records arrive here.
8/21 - Herman says Zerfas album nearly sold out.
8/28 - delivered Zerfas to (radio station) WTLC.
8/28 - "Higher" and "Wellitz" on WNAP - "Higher" is #9 on the TNT call-in show.
9/15 - Zerfas visit. 3 of their tunes were rejected by the copyright office! (more complete charts were written, resubmitted, and subsequently accepted.)
9/20 - Bill Wilcox of the "Indianapolis Today" and "Sagamore" papers took data for small stories about Zerfas and 700 West.

  • Following the success of the album Zerfas (Jubal) hit the road. The group made a living as a successful touring band, especially appreciated by their fans in the Southeast U.S. The stdio wouldn work with them on four more projects, the last being July 1981. 700 West closed its doors in december 1983, as did Jubal earlier that same year, leaving behind some very high priced collectibe records - and some great memories!

Other Zerfas/Jubal projects at 700 West:

  • In January 1976, Zerfas returned to cut a 5 tune club demo of then-current hits; "Somebody To Love", "Schoolboy Crush", "Nights On Braodway", "Fame" and "Desperado". During this preiod, Nancy Dorsey was added as vocalist. The project required 22 "money" (studio) hours over a 3 day period. (It was 700 West's next-to-last 4 track session. Our new 8 track machine was to arrive shortly after Zerfas was back on the road!) The half-track submaster of this session still exists, much to Dave's chagrin!
  • A year later (February 1977) finds Jubal/Zerfas with new material which would become the foundation of their "Winds Of Change" project - to be shown to major record labels. The female vocalist was no longer part of the group. Due to arrangements with an Atlanta studio the rhythm tracks and groove would be set at 700 West, then vocals and mixes would be done there.

    700 West was now an 8-track studio, with 4-track backup. To accomodate the traditionally dense Jubal arrangements, track bouncing, transfers (8-to-4) and sync tapes using 2 machines (4-to-8) were the order of the day. With care and advance planning, these tricks yielded 24 track performance. The sync tape method was extended to include lead and backup vocals, as well as certain guitar and keyboard tracks. An added bonus of this technique is that one could make the vocals (or backing instruments) lead or lag the rhythm tracks, giving a composition either a hot or laid-back feel - after the fact!

    Beds for three tunes were laid; "Mr. Green Thumbs", "Sweetest Part" and "Stoney Wellitz" - the last two being an update of the original album cuts. By now, the group's instrumentation was changing too, with Mini-Moog and Orchestron keyboards becoming part of the arsenal. This session required 32 studio hours spread over 3 weeks. All tapes were subsequently lost when the Atlanta studio mysteriously caught fire during the time the band was recording there!

  • Jubal dropped by again in early November 1978 for a "quick mix" of 2 tunes and copy some previously recorded material.
  • They came back in late November, working until February on an all-original record company demo, redoing and updating the material lost in the Atlanta fire. the 100 studio hours spent on the Superdemo nearly equalled the time spent on the original "Zerfas" album project!
M. J. Whittemore, Jr.

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