The Cortland Country Music Album: Cortland Records 1977?

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On the front of the jacket are all of the special places one should visit in the late 70’s if traveling through Cortland County: Marathon NY–all of it, Hanna’s Stump, Greek Peak, The Cortland County Court House, A gentleman of the name of Bucky–wearing a cowboy hat walking out of a bar, The Preble Diner (Little Red Diner), as well as finding the one of the numerous “South Bounder” I-81 and Rt.11 road signs.

The back of the cover gives a little more information about what the album entails:

“Dear Country Music Fan,
Country music comes from everywhere. Central New York State, however, has produced more than its fair share of country songs, country pickers and country fans.

The music on this album is Cortland Country – performed; recorded; and, for the most part, written right here in Central New York for you[r] enjoyment (and ours too.)

We appreciate the opportunity of playing our variety of music, for you, both here on the record ( which took the better part of the hard winter of ’76-’77 to put together) and in personal appearances around these parts.

We would appreciate hearing your comments, so drop us a line and let us know how you feel about Cortland Country.”

Also on the back cover is a list of all of the musicians involved:
John Caforio——–Piano, Vocals
Mike Caforio——–Drums
Al Venooker———Drums
Hank Recor———-Guitar, Vocals, Bass
Ike McNeal———-Bass
Tex Roe————-Guitar, Bass, Drums
Michael Ocello——Bass, Guitar, Vocals
Pete Bennett——–Harmonica, Whistling
Brandy Sampson——Bass
Chris Robarge——-Tambourine
Betty and Mae Baker-Vocals

Engineered by Michael
Arranged by John Caforio
Jacket Design by Pete Bennett
Many Thanks to Our Fans
Cortland Record Company,
R. D. 2, Cortland, NY 13045

This album has held a special place in my heart the first time I listened to it with my mom and dad last summer on their old front porch, who both thought it was interesting, albeit, not perfect. All of the songs were recorded in ‘Mono’, and it shows…which is a good thing, adding to the ramshackle feeling of the tracks. While it is technically considered a “Various Artists” album, it appears that only in taking turns for the vocals that this is true–another nice part to a lo-fi real-folks album.

Hank Recour sings the opening track, “Cortland Country”, which from the title sounds like it would be a jingle for tourism, but in all effect, it more so describes the pictures on the front cover.

Mike Caforio sings on the next song, Rose (in the springtime) complete with whistling, and understated harmonies “on my mi-ind!”. It’s one of my many favorites from this gem.

The Baker Sisters, Betty and Mae, sing the third song on side A, “Fancy Satin Pillows”. Electric piano,drums, bass, and slightly off guitar (only adding charm),to the sisters’ unique vocal styling.

The next song, “A Man’s Got to Give Up A Lot, sung by Tex Roe features the electric piano in the front, guitar, and bass, and drums. Basically, it’s a song about how to keep a woman satisfied and make them stick around by giving them whatever they want.

Nobody Knows by Pete Bennett is an instrumental song featuring the harmonica and whistling up front accompanied by the guitar, bass, and drums. Nice vibrato on that whistling!

The ending track on side A, “Tears in Daddy’s eyes” is sung by Tex Roe, and is a downer of a song about a singing guitarist who was happy on the outside, yet had tears for his wife that died two years prior. The harmonica adds to the somber country mood evoked.

Side two opens with another of my favorite tunes, “Too Little Too Late”, featuring Hank Recor on vocals and backing him up are the bass, guitar, drums, harmonica, and that electric piano–always adding an extra dimension to the music. This should’ve been a hit!

Track two is titled, “The Legend of Gertie Brown” sung by Michael Ocello. The song is essentially a story about Gertie who adopts an alligator, named Sam Hill who she has trained to be some sort of attack dog.

The Baker Sisters sing the next track, “Nobody’s Baby But Mine”. Electric piano, comes in abruptly and unexpectedly at times, yet the song wouldn’t be the same had it had been otherwise. Bass and Drums round it out.

“Bless My Soul”, sung by Tex is another song about dying. Harmonica in the lead with guitar, drums, and bass in the back of the mix let’s Tex’s baritone voice stand out.

“She’s So True”, by John Caforio is another stunner. Electric piano, bass, drums, and a redundant kick ass guitar lick. A song about unrequited love.

Tex closes out side B with a spoken track with electric piano, “Men With Broken Hearts”. The track is very sad sounding in nature, both in vocals and instrumentation. It’s so strange and slightly off that it could’ve been used in an ending to a B-rated 70’s horror film.

Sadly, very little is known about any of these artists on the album. Heck, I even made sure to drive through Preble to see if I could locate the Little Red Diner, but I couldn’t seem to find it…

If anyone has any information or memoirs on any of the artists contained on the album or any additional info about the landmarks, either email me, and be sure to leave a comment!

Listen to the vinyl rip on Youtube here!

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