CD showcases ‘Rustbelt’ talent on new album

Tommy McCoy is no stranger to recording studios.

The Howland native has released nine albums in his career, recording with such luminaries as Levon Helm and Garth Hudson of The Band and Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon, who were Stevie Ray Vaughan’s rhythm section.

Now based in Florida, McCoy has been making the trip home most years for the annual Labor Day weekend benefit concert he helped start nine years ago at Up a Creek Tavern in Howland. And he was impressed with the talent of the veteran musicians who played the event, players he grew up listening to or played with in various bands when he was younger.

“Some of those guys never really got anything on record,” McCoy said. “A few of the guys up there really hadn’t done what I thought they should be doing.”

He started the Historic Music Society Facebook page as a place where area musicians and fans could gather to celebrate the area’s music history, and the group’s first CD, “Rustbelt Legacy Recordings,” will be released Sunday at the ninth edition of the benefit concert.

“I started asking some of the guys if they wanted to record a few songs with me, then the ball started rolling,” McCoy said.

Most of the record was recorded at Youngstown’s Ampreon Recorder and mastered by Mike Talanca at Tune Town Recording Studio in Newton Falls. Several who couldn’t make it to local sessions submitted recordings for inclusion on the 14-track CD, including Mariano Longo (who now lives in Las Vegas and served as music director for Gary Puckett’s band), Gary Boggess (who now lives in Tampa and played in the band I Don’t Care in the ’70s) and Roger Hatfield (also with I Don’t Care).

“Steve Acker had a song (‘Still Rockin’ in the Valley’) that really fit the theme of the album, plus it had John Sferra (Glass Harp) and Bill Lohr playing on it,” McCoy said. “Roger Lewis had a great song that really applied (‘Big City”) too.”

And modern technology makes it easier for musicians to work together without being in the same place.

“Roger (Hatfield) is dealing with some health issues, but I could send him a track and get a sax track back in like three hours,” McCoy said.

Gary Sloas, who played drums on many of the sessions and helped produce the recordings, said, “It was a great experience … I think we produced a nice CD and hopefully it will be the first of many.”

McCoy said the CD will be available for $10 on Sunday at Up a Creek. It also will be available for purchase online, and the songs will be sold digitally as well. He plans to have it available in some area retail outlets, but earlier this week he said he was waiting for delivery of the CDs before approaching retailers.