The Trick Is To Keep Going

Tag: New Haven rock scene

Napi Browne: Two sides to the band

by on Feb.24, 2014, under Music


The two tracks below were recorded about two years apart at different studios and with different drummers. They show off two distinct sides of the band Napi Browne, which played extensively in southern New England and Long Island in the late 1970s and early ’80s.

Napi Browne backstage at the Oxford Ale House in the late 1970s. From left, Nick Bagnasco, Dennis DeMorro, Dan Gulino and Paul Rosano

The first, Forget All About It,  is an all-out, straight-ahead rocker, written by Nick Bagnasco, one of our two lead guitarists. Nick also sang lead on the track. I used to love playing this tune. It’s an in-your-face, no-holds barred guitar rock song that never lets up. We recorded it at Paul Leka Studios in Bridgeport around 1981. Vic Steffens, who was playing live with us at the time, is on drums and he also co-produced the track.

But the band also liked to play other types of music, particularly fusion and funk, and the second tune, Phase In Phase Out, written by Dan Gulino, our other lead guitarist, displays that aspect. An instrumental, it shows off both guitar players and the rhythm section, which included Dennis DeMorro on drums.

Phase In, Phase Out was recorded at Bearville Studios in Woodstock, N.Y., and was produced by the band. We stayed up there for about three days in a little house directly opposite the Bear Restaurant. I had stayed there previously during the early ’70s with Beau Segal, drummer for Pulse and Island. At the time, we were working as session players for Sam Gordon’s Publishing house in New York.

Check out Dan’s lead on Forget All About it and the harmony guitars in the middle section. That was a trademark of the band and something Nick and Dan had worked on for years. They had a tight and tasty blend together.

The harmony guitars are also in evidence on Phase In, Phase Out. Nick takes the middle section solo and Dan plays lead all around his melody lines throughout the tune.

The band was versatile. We usually played about one set’s worth or our own tunes, including these two. Some of the bands we covered showed the range of the group as well as the original material. We played Bodhisattva by Steely Dan, Freedom, Wait Until Tomorrow and Message To Love by Hendrix, Good Times, Bad Times by Zeppelin, Jeff Beck instrumentals, including Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers on which Danny soloed, material from Les Dudek and Nils Lofgren as well as familiar club fare for the time by the likes of Bowie, ZZ Top and others, even the Beatles.


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Napi Browne: Street Talkin’ Ways

by on Aug.01, 2013, under Music


The tune Street Talkin’ Ways was written by Dan Gulino and Paul Rosano, probably in early 1980, and was a staple in the live set for Napi Browne, a regional Northeast rock band in the late 1970s and early ’80s, mostly based in Connecticut.

Napi Browne backstage at Toad’s Place, circa 1980-81. Clockwise from top right, Dan Gulino, lead guitar and vocals, Vic Steffens, drums and vocals, Nick Bagnasco, lead guitar and lead vocals, and Paul Rosano, bass and lead vocals.

The tracks below are an early demo in which the lyric Street Talkin’ Ways isn’t even in the song, and the finished track that we recorded in 1981 at Paul Leka’s Studios in Bridgeport with the other founding member of the band Nick Bagnasco. Vic Steffens played drums on the track and also set up the recording date and helped us produce the track. Vic was playing live with us at the time.

The demo was recorded in my living room in Fair Haven. I lived right next door to Dan and I remember we got together at his place in his music room to work on a tune. He had the original musical idea for the song, particularly the chord changes and rhythm. We sat down and I started to come up with a melody and we worked on an early lyrical idea for the song. We worked on it together and separately for several days.

It was Dan who came up with the lyrical idea Street Talkin’ Ways and the attitude for the song about a tough-minded girl friend. After that, the rest of the lyrics started pouring out and the tune was finished pretty quickly. We brought it to Nick and Vic and arranged it over at Nick’s house, our rehearsal space, and started playing it live. By the time we hit the studio we had been playing this song for quite a while. Nick plays a stinging solo that is so well-suited to the track, every phrase builds on the previous one. I believe he used his Les Paul although it might have been his Tele.

Napi Browne played at Toad’s Place, The Arcadia Ballroom, over on Whalley Avenue, and The Oxford Ale House on Whitney, regularly during the band’s playing days, late 1976 to 1981. The photo above was taken in between sets at Toad’s Place. Looks like we were having a good time.


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