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12

Music stories: a bit about The Drongos

March 20, 2009 at 5:37 am

My wife, Martha Moran, and I managed a rock and roll band 25 years ago. They were called The Drongos. They were four intrepid young New Zealanders who had come to America with an itinerant theat-rical troupe and stayed when the itinerants moved on. They made prety close to a living playing on New York street corners through litle Mouse amps and passing the hat. They’d been a band for a couple of years when we started to help them in 1981.

There were four Drongos. Stanley John Mitchell, the drummer and principal songwriter, now lives in Brooklyn with his wife Alice Barret, a flm, TV, and commercial actress. Richard Kennedy, the lead guitar player and a lead vocalist, has stubbornly made his living as a solo performing guitarist and singer, based in Frome, England. Tony McMaster, the bass player, and Jean McAllister, keyboards/guitar/ vocals, are the married parents of four children in Auckland, New Zealand, and still very much involved in music there.

The Drongos were established performers on a circuit through upstate New York: Woodstock, Albany, Ithaca, Rochester, Bingham-ton over the 4 years or so we worked with them. We never made the match for a record deal with a major label—there was a lot of conver-sation but it never quite jelled. So we put out our own records. Fortunately, but quite coincidentally, I was consulting at the time for a UK-based company called Proteus Books, which had bought into my idea for a niche strategy. We published books, mostly bios, on pop music and flm. Only. The idea was that we’d do books in an assembly-line way that could sell in all English speaking markets and through bookstores, music stores, and record stores. That allowed us to have an integrated, rather than a book-by-book, marketing cam-paign. It also gave me a passable front for our self-produced, self-de-livered records (and they were, primarily, vinyl records at that time.) There are two reasons I’m telling you about The Drongos. One is that I am proud of the promotional fyer I slipped onto the back cover of every copy of their frst record. At the top it says, “If you like this record be sure to call your local radio station. It helps.”

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