On a Locust Summer Day
Records with Sonobeat in 1970
No commercial releases on Sonobeat label
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. Locust Summer Day also features Tom on guitar. 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 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: keyboard, guitar, and vocals
Unidentified song #1
Unidentified song #2
On a Locust Summer Day
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