Picking up the IRTRAD-L thread from last June again ...
I'm hereby publishing (via IRTRAD-L), with the authors' permission,
verbatim, two fascinating and valuable letters which cast much a clearer
light on the origins of this album. Alan Podber, the first writer below,
played accompaniment on the album, and the second writer, Izak
Breslauer, was one of the album's producers. Note that Izak wrote his
e-mail as a commentary inspired by reading Alan Podber's letter, a copy
of which I had forwarded to him just today.
- Alan Ng
-------- Original Message --------
Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2011 01:37:02 -0500 (EST)
From: Alan Podber
Subject: Recording Date(s) of "Kevin Burke: Sweeney's Dream" To: Alan Ng
It's amazing the things that one can find when one googles himself.
Having come upon your discussion of the Sweeney's Dream recording date,
I noted with interest your research of the March, 1973, Sunday
temperature records. In the original 1977 Folkways liner notes, I wrote
that the album was recorded in "spring, 1973" because, despite what
Kevin later stated in the the reissue package, the LP was NOT recorded
in one day, although I did not then (and do not now) know the specific
recording dates. There were several recording sessions at the old NYU
uptown campus (NOT Fordham U., as stated in the reissue notes). I
believe that all of Kevin's solo tracks were recorded at those sessions,
along with the banjo/fiddle and banjo/autoharp duets. In addition, some
of the fiddle/guitar duets that I played with Kevin were likewise
recorded at NYU. Then the Meadowlands producers, Izak Breslauer and Les
Hanson, lost access to the NYU studios. This is probably because "this
was the 50-plus-acre uptown campus of New York University until 1973,
when sold to the city as a campus for Bronx Community College." (AIA
Guide to New York City, by Norval White, Elliot Willensky, Fran Leadon,
5th ed., 2010, p. 860). I believe that Les and Izak had been NYU
students and may have been affiliated with the radio station there.
The album was not yet completed, though, so Izak hung up rugs and
blankets in his apartment and we finished the album there--also
requiring several sessions. It is true that there were no formal
rehearsals. We probably went over the tunes briefly before recording
them, though, and each one had multiple "takes." Kevin had made rough
cassette recordings of each tune on which I was to play guitar or
mandolin, and I figured out the chords/harmonies at home, prior to the
When I received my copies of the reissue back in 2001, I contacted
Smithsonian Folkways with the corrections, but the album had already
been issued and the changes were never made. I am extremely proud to
have been part of a project that has inspired such meticulous research
to determine recording dates. I do recall that the weather was cold, and
there may have been some snow on the the ground. It is possible that the
recording started in February or early March, but I'm reasonably certain
that it was completed during the spring. I hope this has been of some
help, or at least mild interest.
Al Podber, LMSW; M.A., ethnomusicology
-------- Original Message --------
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2011 21:57:00 -0500
From: Izak Breslauer
Subject: Re: Recording Date(s) of "Kevin Burke: Sweeney's Dream"
To: Alan Ng
I would like to give you a little information regarding the sessions.
Some of the recordings were done at WNYU at the University Heights
Campus of NYU. Both Les and I were mangers when we were students. But
Les graduated in 1971, and I graduated in 1972. After that we had very
limited access to the studios. As far as use of the facilities, the
Radio management was fully aware of the recordings, and were
instrumental in helping us in the use of the facilities. In fact this
would have been the third record at which we would use the WNYU studios.
In previous records we credited the facility as our main recording
studio. Also most of the recordings were done before the
campus was turned over to Bronx Community College. Because of the
lengths of the sessions, and the fact that many people were involved in
the recordings, we thought it would be better if we used my apartment as
the main recording studio. The north wall of my living room had many
plaster cracks, and being the resourceful students, that we were, my
roommates and I used carpet remnants to cover it up. The rest of the
apartment was covered with blankets, to deaden the acoustics. Some of
the larger sessions required many takes, some for flaws in the
performances, but several takes had to be cut because of planes flying
over, or the noise from the busses, a block away.
All in all the quality was pretty good , considering what we were up
I must tell you this brings back fond memories, and hope this is of
some help. It's hard to believe that we are recounting events of nearly
40 yrs. ago, and hope I still remember many of the details. But as age
creeps up, and I sometimes can't remember what I have for breakfast,
this is certainly fun to recount.