Intervista: Dakota (Jerry G. Hludzik)

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Vincenzo: Jerry, first of all this is a great honor for me and for interview you. I consider the Dakota as a fundamental band for the all movement of Westcoast Rock and A.O.R. in USA. Jerry tell us how the Dakota was born.

Jerry: My journey began in Northeast Pennsylvania USA with a band called The Buoys (1971, Scepter Records) We had a million-selling single called "Timothy", written by Rupert Holmes (Escape "The Pina Colada Song") supposedly about a mine disaster in Northeastern Pa. during which cannibalism had been implied. Bill Kelly, and I were both guitar/ vocalists for the band. Kelly was featured vocalist on Timothy. The song peaked on the US billboard Top 20 charts @ 16 May of 1971. Years later, in 1979, “Give Up Your Guns” from that same album was released by EMI of Holland and was a #5 European hit. It was also penned by Rupert Holmes. Kelly and I went to Holland to promote the song, doing radio and TV shows, one in particular was the popular “Top of the Pops” In the Netherlands still until this day is #50 of All Time!! We toured in the 70’s with the likes of Pure Prairie League, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Grass Roots, Sha Na Na, Frank Zappa, and Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett just to name a few. We switched to Polydor Records in 1972 with producer Rupert Holmes, We released 2 singles, and recorded an as-yet still until this day an unreleased LP. In later years, we also worked on a project with a( much sought after arranger and conductor) Michael Kamen (New York Rock’in Roll Ensemble CBS records 1970’s) as producer. Michael was very well known for his film work in pop and rock arranging, collaborating with many artists such as Queen, Clapton to name a few. Also in 2002 he was part of the Concert for George Harrison as string conductor. Michael unfortunately passed away in 2003. Five months earlier we spoke…..little did I know it would be our last conversation. Jerry-Kelly Band (1978 CBS/Epic Records) Kelly and I eventually broke off from The Buoys to form The Jerry-Kelly Band. Thanks to the efforts of long-time friend Michael "Dad" Stahl, (who was working for Clair Brothers Audio, doing house mixing for the band Chicago) drummer Danny Seraphine and Rufus keyboardist Hawk Wolinski got a hold of a demo tape from Michael, and signed us to CBS Epic Records to record Somebody Else's Dream, the first and only Jerry-Kelly album, in 1978. This album featured members of Chicago singing and performing. 30 years later there might be at years end Jerry Kelly (2) a project a lot of fans seem to want!!
Dakota (1980 CBS/Columbia Records) The Jerry-Kelly Band moved to CBS/Columbia and we changed our name for our 1980 release, self titled Dakota. This release yielded a regional hit across the country called If It Takes All Night, but which peaked on the billboard charts at # 78. Michael Stahl was now working with the band Queen, who was touring to support their album The Game. Michael worked his 'magic' once again, and Dakota wound up getting the nod to be the opening act, and a 35-date tour .It was so much fun….We played to sold out 20,000 seat venues nightly. This was BIG time decadent Rock and Roll. I could tell you plenty of road stories…but I won’t !!!!! I I could tell you Give Up.

What were the your main musical influences?

Many artists over the years BUT….when I was growing up and teaching myself how to play the guitar, the Beatles exploded on to the scene….. Say no more. Brilliant song writing and harmonies !!!!! I was instantly in LOVE.

Tell me about your favorite Dakota's release and about your last studio project.

I really don’t have a favorite. We’ve done projects in New York- Los Angeles as well as Canada . I just love the creative process from the writing, arranging and recording. Being in a recording studio with my band-mates was just where I wanted to be ..Magic time! The last studio project Deep 6 if I did have a favorite it just might be this one. It was a labor of love over a year and a half and it had me possessed! Happy when it was completed and content with its outcome. With this project we chose to get back to the 80s style, which meant that “Deep 6” could easily I think in some ways be compared to “Runaway”. It could have been easily the real follow-up of that record, as the new songs (I think are at least as good or better than,) as well as the performance and the production. Also (as well singing on our Runaway and Little Victories (2000 king records Japan) projects,) Chicago’s Bill Champlin sang backing vocals on “Back To Me”).

In Italy and in Europe Dakota are considered a classic Westcoast A.O.R. band. In fact i inserted Runaway in " TOP 100 A.O.R. album of the history". What do you think about it?

We spent about 6 months in LA recording with our producer Danny Seraphine(Chicago) and an engineer by the name of Humberto Gatica… that’s were the great fidelity comes from. He made a great sounding record for us. Thanks Hummie!! I am flattered(and I appreciate the masterpiece mention) that all these years later, many people believe that the Runaway album was a GEM! Would love to come to Italy to perform ..

I am curious to know how you personally consider the music of album like Runaway (i personally consider Runaway a genuine AOR/Westcoast masterpiece...but how do you see your music?...)

Yes I agree about Dakota’s sound as being Album Oriented Rock and West Coast sounding we were produced in that vein. This was our sound from the beginning. I feel if we got more of a push from our record labels in promotion, Dakota would have been back then a house hold word. We still years later have a very large fan base world-wide in spite of this fact. I am great full for all the kind words from fans daily from all ends of the earth about our music and how it touches their soul. For this I am proud to still do what I do!

Jerry, you are a expert musician, what do you think about the current techniques of album recording?

To many artists these days are just a product of technology and a flashy producer who can pitch correct everything!! Most of them can’t play or sing –they are just eye candy. All smoke and mirrors! Do it honestly….. Don’t cheat your fans!

I'm a lover of CD and LP (non compressed format) but the new music business market is oriented to MP3 and digital compressed music. What do you think about this direction of the market (Where the quality often is not the most important thing)?

I have a love hate relationship with the industry of today. I love the convenience of digital recording for a home studio demo , but I’m just an analog lover. Also years ago when you had a record coming out it was on a major label and something special. Now anyone in their garage can say they have a new CD being released. That’s good and bad but that’s just not special anymore… Is there anybody out there under 30 that actually owns a high-end home stereo?? I seriously doubt it! I hate MP3’s and The i-pod ruined everything. Including kids ears in years to come with all that compressed HIGH- END! You can’t beat the warmth of analog on the low end. I’d take virgin vinyl (no scratches with good turntable listening over DIGITAL ANY DAY OF THE WEEK!!

Jerry tell us about new Dakota's projects and works for the near future.

At the moment I am working on a solo project hopefully due out mid-summer 2008 Rick Manwiller one of dakota’s keyboardist solo project also is in the works With a new DAKOTA studio project by years end. We will start recording june of 2008

Jerry where we can buy Dakota's album?

Dakota web-site in the merchandise section at Quick and easy with a pay-pal account!

Jerry a final thought for all readers .. .

Dakota appreciates every kind word we receive from the fans thru phone calls e-mails,and the reviews on web- sites that keep this style of music alive and breathing . We work really hard to come up with the music we think you listeners would enjoy. It looks like by the very positive feed- back we get I guess we most definitely did our part of keeping it alive too. Heres hoping this is only the beginning of a long run together, for" and Dakota ! Thank you Vincenzo, and all the best from.
Jerry G. Hludzik/DAKOTA

Vincenzo Ferrara.
Data pubblicazione: 20/01/2008