The Real Kids – “Who Needs You“
Yeah, I’ve been mixing sound for about 38 years now on stages small and large. But it’s not really about the mix at all; it’s about the music, plain and simple. And the bigger the stages and venues get, the more disconnected the music and musicians become from their audience. In my opinion, the smaller the stage and the closer the crowd, the better.
This story is about one of the greatest rock and roll moments I was ever fortunate enough to be a part of. The story of a great rock and roll band on a small stage in a small club with some great fans right in their faces. It was August 28th, 1999 and I was working as the Cheif Sound Engineer for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I had just finished mixing a big classical orchestra at The Hatch Memorial Shell and I couldn’t get out of there quick enough. One of my all time fave Boston bands, The Real Kids, was playing down at the Lynnwood Grill on Kilmarnock Street in the Fenway.
I had graduated midlife from UMass Boston the summer before and had asked John Felice if he would consider reuniting with Billy Borgiolli, Allen “Alpo” Paulino, and Howie Furgeson to play just ONE night at the Lynnwood for my graduation party. To my surprise, everyone agreed and got together for a practice. Well, my graduation party never happened, but the aforementioned version of The Real Kids went on to play several shows around the country. I think Norton even released another album during that period when this combination of friends came back together to play music. The main point was that they WERE back playing together and I, as if searching for a ghost from the past, wanted very much to be an eye witness to it.
After giving the classical orchestra the bum’s rush off the Hatch stage, I got down to the Lynnwood about 10 minutes before the scheduled set. There was a problem I was told; one of the musicians didn’t have an amp to play through. Then someone from the opening acts recognized me as “the repairman down at Mr Music” and said he would loan The Real Kids his amp if I agreed to repair it should something happen to it during the next set. “Agreed;” I said, “Done.” John Felice then walked in the door and seeing me said; “Jack, just keep both guitars even with my voice just over them.” I said; “John, are you asking me to mix you guys?” He said; “Do I have to ask, Jack?” So off I went to the board, and I guess the rest is what you hear.
Allan Kraut, the House Engineer, was nice enough to capture a live recording using his own blend of my live board mix along with two room mikes. If you listen closely enough through a set of good headphones, you can actually hear the sound of the crowd knock beer bottles off the pool table. But far more importantly, you will hear this line up of the Real Kids doing one of their very best versions of one of John Felice’s greatest songs, Who Needs You.
So screw the mix friends, just turn up the volume and let yourself hear the REAL Real Kids in action! DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF ALLEN PAULINO and Real Kids everywhere.