It was sometime in the summer of 1982. Cande Brought aka Cande Roth of Shadow Traffic fame called me. I hadn’t heard from her since we graduated from CW Post Center out on Long Island. Then again, after graduation my friend Charley Maria and I did a month long trip to England & France. It was all business the first week. I had hot hot hot photos of the Clash at the start of their Combat Rock tour which started at the Asbury Park Convention Hall. He had his more “social” photography work to try to hawk while we were in London for the first week. These were the first picts of the tour & I was guest listed all three night. Thanks Kosmo!
Once back from that life altering excursion driven by our feet and thumbs, I settled into my new routine living in my parents house in Lanoka Harbor, NJ. I “worked all day in Daddy’s garage” and soon tired of being under the same roof as the parental units. I had lived in Long Island for 4 years and I was trying to find a way out of the house and into my own digs. So here comes this call. Candy says. “Hey Streno! Welcome back to NJ!” We talked about the trip and what was going on with her new job at Shadow Traffic. She then tells me, “Hey Streno! Have I got a band for you to see. You’ll love them!” I replied, “… Candy Candy Candy … that’s the kiss of death. Don’t tell me I’ll love something. ‘Cause you know I’m just going to hate it on GPs.” “Streno … meet me at Mrs Jay’s on the boulevard in Asbury Park. I’m livin’ in Asbury now.”
It’s up the Garden State Parkway in my trashed out Brown and Gold Dodge Omni. I get to Mrs Jay’s. I see all these bikes out in front. Damn Candy! What did you get me into! But I hear the scratchy sounds of reggae emanating from within. Once inside I see this guy on stage. The music had me skankin’ and rankin’ big time! I kept lookin’ at Smoots & couldn’t figure out if he was black, white, Asian or had been in the cultural blender on high! He moved & sang with too much soul to be just a white boy playin’ roots … man.
At the end of a blistering first set Candy introduced me to Smoots. “Joe Streno I want you to meet Gary Crosslin.” “Joe is very into reggae he use to have a radio show at our college station.” Gary and I shook hands and we talked music. And we talked and we talked and we talked. It was like finding a kindred soul. I didn’t know anyone who knew that much about music, or was that into roots music … ever! We clicked, like I had never clicked with a person before, nor again. We became fast friends and brothers in the beat. Within a week Gary & I were calling each other … oh hey have you ever heard of this band … no … bring it over let’s give it a spin. I’d trip out to the house the band was living in in Wall Township. Within a month or so Gary asked me to move in with him, Judy “Joots” and their drummer Kenny in the Wall house. All this and more from a meeting at Mrs Jay’s. :) Thanks Candy! And thanks Gary!
I decided to post some of the things I have collected about Gary and the Smoots band. This was the contents of their press kit. The kit cover I designed for them. Also included were a band photo (anyone know who took it?) and articles by Robert Santelli, Chris Barry and others.
In a future post I will put up some of the live and promo photos I had taken of the Smoots band and of Gary. All in good time :)
BTW … does anyone remember the real name of Vito Roast? I know I know it … but I’ll be damned if I can remeber it! Leave your answer in the comments if you know. Thanks!