The Black And White Of It
is a place for Al Katkowsky to do whatever he likes. "Everyone
should have such a place", says Al, feigning speech in the third
memorized all of the Presidents at age 8, starred in his class play at
age 10, and learned Transcendental Meditation at age 12. Playing guitar,
however, remained out of reach. Each of those years, he picked up the
classic Gibson J-45 that came into the house and attempted to hold down
the strings. He couldn't. "I was heartbroken", he says now.
"I could pick out melodies, but would have to stop because of the
pain. I couldn't imagine how people did it. I found out later that the
guitar had heavy gauge strings; an absolute death knell for a
beginner." Al's beginning was delayed until age 14 when he saw a
Fender Telecaster in a friend's basement. "It all seemed possible
again". Al changed his strings and forged ahead.
Katkowsky's first demos were recorded with Mark Kramer at the original
Noise NY studios on 34th St in NYC. Kramer, who recommended that Al
release the tapes on his own, shortly thereafter launched the
underground legend ShimmyDisc label from the same location. These
sessions were preceded and followed by several residential guitar
courses with Robert Fripp at his then recently begun Guitar Craft
seminars that took place in West Virginia . .....................Al then
formed a trio that was his main band for the next quite a few years.
After establishing themselves and their sound in clubs in and around NY,
the group concocted a radical approach to succeed: the three of them
relocated to London, England where they worked, lived, gigged and
recorded for six months. Their visas expired, and they returned with
their recording, which they pressed and distributed here and in the UK..
Well paying college gigs, airplay and interviews resulted, and the band
fully immersed itself in the DIY spirit. .............A personnel
change, a successful yet taxing legal action against an English teeny
bopper band, and more recording followed. Stressed, and seeking new
direction, the band went its separate ways. .................
Here, for the first time, Al presents his new music.
Al also plays guitar for Ether Park.