Singer songwriter, Brent Godfrey released two tapes in the mid-late 1980s of personal, introspective and from-the-heart songs. Finger picked acoustics, lightly strummed electrics, some occasional forays into good time rock and roll, a pleasing high tenor delivery and restrained production created some very honest sounding music. Today, we might call this “americana” but I prefer to just call it authentic home expression.
I obtained my first personal recording device back in 1984 when I was in the band “Someone Else’s Problem” with Gary Strauss and Doug Cornell. It was a Fostex X-15 4 Track cassette. I would use it to record my song ideas for band rehearsal. Gary and myself dropped out of the band after a short stint to pursue more personal interests. Doug kept the band going with new members. I still got together with Gary and other musical friends
frequently to play music and write songs.
I first became aware of the Cassette Culture through the independent
magazine “Sound Choice”. The first issue of “Sound Choice” was in Jan/Feb
of 1984. I had always shied away from popular music and sought out obscure independent recordings. For me, independent music just had more raw emotion and soul. I sent away for some of the cassettes advertised in “Sound Choice” and noted that a lot of the artists freely traded tapes in lieu of money. “Sound Choice” would review and list almost anything submitted.
I loved the idea of sharing my songs with open minded musicians who were constantly striving to expand their horizons. I thus decided to self
release a cassette of my own songs and trade them with others.
I released my first cassette in 1986, entitled “Dancer in the Ruins”. The
songs were crudely recorded on the Fostex X-15 with multiple ping pongs to get enough tracks. I sang and played most of the parts myself with some occasional help from friends on lead guitar and vocals. For me it was all about expressing myself. I was not interested in musical perfection, only in releasing demons, pain, anger, and pledging love to current or hoped for girl friends. Everything was recorded in a spare room at my house. I even drew the cassette covers myself.
I found the other home tapers to be a real friendly community of musicians with encouraging thoughts and words. One of the people I traded a tape with was Donald Campau, and I thus became aware of the KKUP “No Pigeonholes” radio show. I had songs featured on three of the shows: Series 86 Vol. 11, Vol. 14, and Vol. 17.
I released another tape recorded on the X-15 in 1987 entitled “High Fashion Baby”. I sang and played everything on this cassette except for some live drums provided by my old band mate, Gary Strauss.
I took a hiatus from home recording in 1989 – 1990 when I moved to Bangkok, Thailand to work at a joint venture facility that manufactured electric motors. I found a restaurant called “El Gordo’s” in Bangkok that had an open mic. I had brought my acoustic guitar with me to Bangkok and still wrote an occasional song.
When I moved back to Owosso, Michigan my X-15 had stopped working and I bought a Roland VS-880 Digital Workstation. This provided a much cleaner method of recording than the X-15 and with 8 tracks I no longer had to ping pong and loose sound quality. I started work on another tape to be called “Cut My Heart Out”. My friend John Zawacki played lead guitar parts for me. John is an accomplished singer/song writer and has released a number of self produced cassettes and CD’s in a studio setting.
I never ended up finishing the “Cut My Heart Out” tape. In 1993, I was
laid off from my job in Owosso. I found another job in West Michigan and moved to Grand Rapids. I did not have any musical friends in Grand Rapids and lost touch with song writing and home taping. Instead I played a lot of sports and then got married in 1997.
In the late 2000’s I started to try to get back involved in song writing and
home recording. I needed to begin to use song writing again for self
therapy purposes. It is not good to keep your thoughts and emotions
bottled up. I still have the Roland VS-880. What once seemed so advanced
in technology now seems rather antique. However, it suits my purposes.
I discovered a web site entitled SongRamp.com and started a free membership level subscription. The SongRamp community reminds me very much of the old Cassette Culture. My URL at SongRamp . I currently only have 4 songs posted. However, I think I will upgrade my membership this spring to allow more extensive posting.
I recently became a friend with Donald Campau on Facebook and discovered the “No Pigeonholes” show was still active. I think that will be enough to encourage me to write and record more songs to finish the “Cut My Heart Out” album. This time I will self release it one burn at a time on CDR.