NIGHT DON’T GO

GRAYSON WITH HIS BAND

(The Grayson Hugh Quartet, 1981. Left to right: Rob Gottfried – Drums; Me – Lead Vocals, Piano, Hammond B3 Organ; David Stoltz – Bass; Tom Majesky – Guitars, Vocals.)

TO HEAR “NIGHT DON’T GO” CLICK HERE.

As a lifelong night-owl, I have always liked to write in the solitary dark hours when all is quiet around me except for my imagination. One such productive period was from 1979 through 1986, when I lived at 19 Whitney Street in Hartford, Connecticut. It was an old brick three story building in what is called “the West End” – those several streets that descended east off of Farmington Avenue from the West Hartford border. They were big old house streets with names like Prospect, Beacon, Oxford, Tremont, Whitney, Kenyon, Girard, Lorraine, Owen, Buckley, Sherman and Warrenton. I lived at various times on seven of them: Warrenton Avenue (at my dad’s house), Beacon Street (with my oldest friend Deke, who was attending UConn Law School after Harvard), Tremont Street (with a girlfriend), Buckley Avenue and Owen Street (with my cousin Frank),  Girard Avenue (with my cat) and Whitney Street.

19 Whitney Street, Hartford CT 2

(19 Whitney Street, Hartford, Connecticut. The original Nineteen Recording Studio, owned by Ron Scalise and Jonathan Freed – and later our rehearsal space – was the large, high-ceilinged loft that you entered through the light blue door at the far left.)

I shared 19 Whitney Street with two other friends: Bernie and Tom. The population later increased to include Tom’s two girlfriends Kris and Gina (at different times, mind you; this is not Fellini’s” 8 1/2″) and a friend of Tom’s second girlfriend named Lisa. I had the third floor to myself, until Lisa moved into the little front bedroom on that floor. We rarely saw each other, except in the hallway.

19 WHITNEY STREET HALLWAY copy

(The hallway inbetween the Nineteen Recording Studio and the connected second floor apartment was a frequent gathering place for coffee drinking and newspaper reading. Left to right: Jonathan Freed, Norman Campbell, Bernie Kornowicz, Ron Scalise.)

We all saw each other in passing, but also at rehearsals. Tom and I were in four bands that rehearsed, again at different times, there: Haiku (a trio that performed my arrangements of classic soul songs); the full band version of Haiku (that included the former Parliament Funkadelic and Brides of Funkenstein drummer Tryone Lampkin); The Grayson Hugh Quartet and Grayson Hugh & The Wildtones (which included a woman who is now my wife named Polly Messer).

GRAYSON HUGH AND THE WILDTONES (with Polly) 1983 copy

(My band Grayson Hugh & The Wildtones. Left to right: Polly Messer -harmony vocals, me, David Stoltz – bass, Tom Majesky – guitar, vocals; Rob Gottfried – drums This photo was taken in the back of 19 Whitney Street.)

This venerable brick edifice was a thriving musical community as well as a haven for colorful characters. It was also the first location of the well-known Connecticut recording studio The Nineteen, which eventually moved to South Glastonbury.

The “front yard” of the place consisted of (and still does, I believe) a CVS parking lot that got so hot in the Summer, you’d run through it so your sunglasses wouldn’t melt. It was convenient when you needed cassette tapes, which I needed often, since they were the medium of my song sketches. The backyard was the parking lot to a restaurant called “Moe’s”, known for its filling, carb-laden breakfasts.

19 WHITNEY STREET pano street view copy

Some of the illustrious characters associated with this house: a homeless woman named Kathy. My introduction to her was by sound only. From the overgrown vacant lot outside my bedroom window, I was awoken by nerve-shattering wails. It sounded like a very pissed-off bobcat. Then I noticed the sound had what seemed like English words in it. Yes, it was a human voice and it was screaming something like “Ahhhhrrrraaaaaagggaaiee!”

One of the original house renters was Bernie Kornowicz, who shortly afterward began renting with Tom. I knew Bernie through our time spent in the band The Last Five in 1965. I was fifteen years old, playing Vox Continental Organ and singing lead vocals and he was seventeen and playing the bass. Bernie was also a very accomplished martial artist. He is the only person I ever knew that actually attended Ninja Summer Camp. Bernie was the most gentle, mild-mannered fellow you’d ever care to meet, but, if pressed, he knew of at least forty eight ways to end your life. Not that he would, of course. He once taught me how to break a cinder block in half with my bare hands, then he used his Chi Gong training to get rid of the splitting headache I got from doing it.

Then there were the many cats that lived there. Tom had several over the years, the most famous of which was a fine feline I first met in 2007 named Black Kitty, a wise and friendly soul. I had my grey tiger cat Pubo (short for “Pugh Boy”) who went on to live on East 84th Street, The  Mayflower and Grammercy Park hotels, Southampton and East Hampton ,New York, and Newington, Connecticut, passing away at 24 years of age.

Characters all.

Many times, late at night, when I had an idea for a song (or when I was looking for an idea) I would go downstairs, make a cup of French Roast coffee and bring it into to the studio, closing the big, thick, sound-proofed doors behind me. I’d turn on my Yamaha CP-70, my Korg Poly-61 synth, my mic, 4 track recorder and, using headphones, start improvising and recording. I could sing and play away without fear of disturbing anyone in the rest of the house. I wrote many songs this way, all alone in the quiet dark, in the cold of Winter, in the humid heat of Summer. Some sketches would make it into the studio, some were performed by one of my bands, some remained ideas that I have to this day.

“Night Don’t Go” is one that was performed by my early 1980s band The Grayson Hugh Quartet. I also recorded it, with Tom, Dave and Rob, at Ron Scalise’s Nineteen Studio across the Connecticut River, in South Glastonbury. It’s about all those hours when the world is hushed, and your imagination comes alive. It’s about not wanting the perfect stillness of a love to end.

I remember the scenes I was thinking of when I wrote the lyrics to this song, way back in 1979. They are very specific places. The fields mentioned in the song are at two locations: the meadows in back of a club in Simsbury called The Inn Place where my band (and Polly’s old band Eight To The Bar – and many others – used to play). Now it’s back to it’s original name The Old Well Tavern.

THE OLD OLD WELL TAVERN - then INN PLACE, THEN GEMINI'S copy

(The Old Well Tavern, before it became The inn Place and, even later, Gemini’s.)

The other field I thought of was at the Albany Avenue side of the West Hartford Reservoir, on Avon Mountain, where I’d often either exit by foot or ride by on my 10 speed bike on my way to Avon. One bright Summer day I saw a red fox in the tall grass there and I stopped to take a photo.

FOX IN RESEVOIR FIELD ON BIKE RIDE copy

(I took this photo with a disposable camera, of a Red fox in a field, at the Albany Avenue entrance of the West Hartford Reservoir in West Hartford, CT.)



In the beautiful introductory section to his novel A Death In The Family, describing a childhood Summer night in 1915 Knoxville, Tennessee, James Agee wrote one of my favorite sentences in English literature:“Now the night is one blue dew”.

I never want the night to end, or that blue dew to dry up and fade away.

•          •          •          •

NIGHT DON’T GO
 words & music by Grayson Hugh

Early in the morning
before the sun has risen
as I watch you sleeping
I feel it’s then I’ve got something to say
I see you sleeping
I feel like weeping
I feel so sad to see the day
taking the night away

Deep in the night time
the midnight moonlight
shines on the dark sky
it shines in fields so far away
it shines on flowers
it shines for hours
it shines in meadows where rabbits play
it never fades away

Night don’t go
night don’t go
moonlight show
if you may

Deep in the night time
the midnight moonlight
shines on the dark sky
it shines in fields so far away
it shines on flowers
it shines for hours
it shines in meadows where rabbits play
it never fades away

Night don’t go
night don’t go
moonlight show
if you may
Night don’t go
night don’t go
moonlight show
if you may

© 1979, 2009 by Grayson Hugh/Swamp Yankee Music/ASCAP

4 thoughts on “NIGHT DON’T GO

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