Featuring the Guitars
and JOHNNY CUCCI
Several years ago my wife returned from a yard sale outing with a record for me. She bought it because it had a smiling man at a Fender steel, and another with a Stratocaster, on the cover. When I put it on the turntable, and dropped the needle in the groove for side one, I was stunned and amazed at what poured forth from the speakers!
"Hot Club of America in Hi-Fi" featuring the Guitars of Jody Carver and Johnny Cucci is an amazing record; pop instrumentals arranged for a small combo of two guitars, non-pedal steel guitar and bass, with dazzling electric guitar and pyrotechnic steel as the lead instruments! Similar, yet wildly different than the work of Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant on the west coast, this album had a distinctly "New York" thing happening.
Fast forward about 8 years: I started a website dedicated to steel guitar in many musical contexts, and created a page called the "Steel Guitar Lounge" specifically honoring "Hot Club of America" and another pop steel artist of the period, Joe Maize.
Fast forward again:I posted on the Steel Guitar Forum late in 2000 looking for a Fender Volume / Tone pedal to go with my Fender Stringmaster Triple 8. Out of the blue Jody Carver e-mailed to tell me that he had one, in fact the very one he used on the HCOA album, and also to tell me how much he appreciated the posting of the HCOA album excerpt in my "Steel Guitar Cocktail Lounge" webpage. "Let's negotiate."
That pedal is now mine, and as an added bonus I have been able to ask Jody all the questions I've wanted to for so long about the circumstances surrounding the creation of the HCOA in Hi Fi album, and to get the info straight from the horse's mouth so to speak, leading to the creation of this site.
I feel very strongly about trying to preserve musicological and historical stuff, to carry traditions and techniques forward so they do not get lost. I guess it's like the 'performance practice' segment of classical music players who perform on original instruments and with archaic technics. But in pop music it gets called "Retro".
"Hot Club of America in Hi-Fi" embodies a particulary interesting use of Steel Guitar in a Pop setting, with remarkable arrangements and stellar performances from virtual unknowns. Due to the managerial problems chronicled elsewhere on this site, their first album was unfortunately also their last.
Throughout this site I have included quotes from Jody's and my correspondence, with some editing for punctuation and spelling. Jody discusses a wide range of subjects: the instruments and tunings used, Johnny and Jody's relationship with Fender as player / endorsers, the recording, contract and eventual release of the album, the other musicians of the group... so much to share.
Most of the pictures on this site were provided by Jody, others came from various websources, such as the site dedicated to Johnny Cucci's Stratocaster, which seems to have led an extremely interesting life after John passed away...
So please, get a cocktail, settle in and enjoy the story of the "Hot Club of America in Hi-Fi"as you browse this site to learn the story behind it. And if you feel so inclined, drop me an e-mail.
~Dave Van Allen Feb. 4, 2001
parts of this site are still under construction; if something doesn't work or seems to not make sense, it may soon. Thanks for your patience and understanding.