tom van zandt

Austin, Texas

Records with Sonobeat in 1970
No commercial releases on Sonobeat label
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The Tom Van Zandt master mix-down

It's a November evening in 1970 at Sonobeat's Western Hills Drive studio in northwest Austin. In between his November recording sessions with Fast Cotton, producer Bill Josey Sr. records three songs written and performed by Fast Cotton keyboardist Tom Van Zandt, also formerly a member of Fast Cotton's predecessor rock band, Austin's Sweetarts. The sole purpose of Tom's Sonobeat sessions is to create a demo tape of his original tunes to circulate to A&R executives at the major record labels. Bill Sr. annotates the "target" artists who he believes may be interested in each of Tom's songs: the first untitled tune is aimed for the Carpenters, the second (also untitled) is for Sergio Mendez and Brazil 66, and the third, On A Locust Summer Day, for Bobby Gentry, famous for her disturbingly matter-of-fact story-song Ode to Billie Joe. If you recall Ode to Billie Joe, and listen to our sound bite below, you'll understand Bill's choice of Bobby Gentry for On A Locust Summer Day.

Tom plays electric piano and provides vocals on all three songs. He also plays acoustic guitar on Locust Summer Day. The minimalist instrumentation make Tom's songs all the more interesting as there's nothing to distract from the melody and message of each.

Bill's session notes are taped to the back of a box he's previously has used for Fast Cotton session masters, but that's not so odd since Tom's sessions occur during a break between Fast Cotton sessions. The only mix-downs from the original 4-track session tapes in the Sonobeat archives are in monaural, so for Sonobeat's 50th anniversary in 2017 we've made new stereo mixes using the instructions Bill left us on the session master tape box.

Tom Van Zandt personnel

Tom Van Zandt: keyboard, guitar, and vocals

Unreleased Sonobeat recordings

Unidentified song #1
Unidentified song #2
On a Locus Summer Day

Produced and engineered by Bill Josey Sr.
Recorded at Sonobeat's Western Hills Drive Studios in northwest Austin, Texas, on November 14, 1970
Recording equipment: Sony ECM22 electret condenser microphones, AKG D707E dynamic microphone, Scully 280 half-inch 4-track tape deck, Ampex 354 quarter-inch 2-track tape deck, custom 16-channel 4-bus mixing console, Fairchild Lumiten 663ST optical compressor, Blonder-Tongue Audio Baton 9-band stereo graphic equalizer, custom steel plate stereo reverb, Ampex 681 tape stock
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Producer Bill Josey Sr.'s session notes taped to the half-inch 4-track session master tape box; the c̅ (circle with a bar over it) in Bill's note – halfway down on the left – is the medical symbol for "with", which Bill learned during his brief tenure in medical school in the late 1940s