Wednesday, May 12, 2004


Last Wednesday I wrote about a great “lost” band The Wayfarers. After I posted the article, I managed to get in touch with a few more members of the group, so I decided to do a follow-up today. Nick Noyes was a co-founder, though he left prior to their one album World's Fare. He sent me some demos, a couple of live tracks, and some posters and articles on the group. He wrote briefly about the band:

I can start with a basic chronology. Ken Kaufman, Cary Berger and myself were freshmen at Columbia in 1981. I'd grown up in the UK, in London, and had been lucky enough to be around for the explosion of music which happened post-1976. I even played bass in a band in the last couple of years of high-school, so I arrived in New York committed to playing music somehow (despite my less-than indifferent musicianship), although with rather doctrinaire ideas about what was hip and what wasn't.

Ken and Cary had rather more catholic tastes in music, and had been exposed to hep international bachelor pad music by their parents -- by which I mean Sergio Mendes, Getz-Gilberto (we covered Girl From Ipanema early on), the Bob Crewe Generation and the Ventures. While I was in the band we described ourselves as Surf-Samba (inaccurately, I'd say).

Cary and I had rehearsed a bunch songs by the winter of ‘81, rehearsed with Ken by spring ‘82, and were auditioning other musicians by fall of ‘82.

We were working with a drummer named Ragi Dindial who introduced us to Shari Becknar. Ragi (who HAS stuck with music) wasn't able to commit as much time as we liked to rehearsals and was replaced by Jon Fallet, although he stuck around as a percussionist for a while.

While I was in the band we progressed from playing dorm parties, to frat parties, to a local bar (on a 106th street and Broadway) called the Blue Rose which was owned by a Greek former movie actress, and which slithered with insect life. The owner kept her elderly mother, covered in blankets, on an easy chair next to the speaker. She was, luckily, quite deaf. As Nino Rota was an influence, the Fellini-esque aspects of the place appealed to us.

The last person to join the line up was Ray Ryder who played trumpet.

By the summer of ‘84 we'd started playing at 8BC [click the link for a very funny NY Daily News expose on 8BC, including a mention of one “Linda Lust” who bears a striking similarity to the identically initialed lead singer of a certain No Wave band] where, among others, Karen Finley appeared on the same bill. She was sticking canned yams in various places, but I think the downtown crowd found us weirder -- fresh faced, wearing paisley and Chelsea boots, covering Nancy Sinatra. We were heckled by people shouting "Cowsills!"

We also played a place called "the Dive" which was in Chelsea, which was run by a guy named Glen who was putting on bands of the 60's punk revival (the Chesterfield Kings, the Vipers et al.).

Our musical influences were pretty multifarious, but definitely included the Postcard bands, the Monochrome Set, the Compact label, and whatever we were finding in the cutout bins and garage sales from the 60's. I think we were goaded, also, by the desire to not to sound like a typical college band, which, at the time were either playing Grateful Dead covers, emulating Joy Division, or playing Motown covers. In fact the most popular band at Columbia as I remember it was called 'That Motown Band' and at least one of their members went on to find fame with Alice Donut.

Why did I leave the band? I wanted to go on a long back-packing trip through Asia, and the rest of the band wanted to continue playing. Perhaps if we'd compromised and all moved to Tokyo history would have been made, but it was not to be.

Dave Romine was a friend and available so it was an easy switch. By the time I'd circumnavigated the world (with my backpack) and ended up in Paris, I was able to pick up the single. On blue vinyl, I seem to remember.

When I returned to the New York area (Hoboken in fact) I was happy to be a hanger on, although I saw a lot of the band as I shared an apartment with Ken. But I didn't have to rehearse. Lazy bugger.

In their year (85/86) in Hoboken the Wayfarers hung out (were socially acquainted with) with members of Hugo Largo and Tiny Lights and were on the same bill as 10,000 Maniacs, and Yo La Tengo.

Thanks to Nick here’s an article that the Columbia University newspaper did on the band. The demos he sent me (he plays bass on these) are pretty high quality. Here’s Arabesque (which appeared on a Disques Du Crepuscule compilation -- the music is by Henry Mancini, words by the Wayfarer’s Ken Kaufman), here’s Time and Me (I really like this one a lot), and here’s Carousel. Here’s the band doing a live version of Nancy Sinatra’s The City Never Sleeps At Night (a Lee Hazlewood composition) at the aforementioned club 8BC (I love the crowd’s reaction to the news that the Nancy cover isn’t going to be “Boots.”). And finally here's one more track, a cover, from their World's Fare album: Conversazione.

So, until someone puts together a web page for this band (hint, hint…do I have any charitable web-designers in my audience?) that’s just about everything. I have one other demo and one live track that I didn't have room to post. One fan of the band wrote to ask if they had any recordings of their great live version of Taste of Honey, but the answer was sadly no. I'd like to thank the band members, who were incredibly nice and responsive to my questions, for their assistance in helping me put these posts together!

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