the Cat Ranch

The Cat Ranch Studio

It was a tiny room under a tiny porch at the back of a house in Paradise. The name came from John Kelly, joking about the fact that Bonnie the girl from Jacksonville and I had just gotten a couple of long-hair tabbies. He called our place the Cat Farm, but I revised that to Cat Ranch, thinking it sounded cooler. I didn't know that there already was a place called The Cat Ranch in Nevada.

Recording techniques advanced by trial and error. Things like RCA to 1/4" patch cords seemed exotic, and purchasing cassette tapes 10 at a time to get a price break felt wildly speculative. Mixes were done on a Peavey mixer, which was also the band's PA system. It had seven channels, a spring reverb and a chunky graphic equalizer. With a cassette recorder on one side and a Sony 350 reel to reel from a New York DA's office on the other there was enough gear to bounce tracks a couple of times and build up something similar to multitrack recordings.

Everything was analog. I had a Hohner tape echo, a Roland phase shifter, and an Ibanez AD100 delay for effects. We were using a high-impedance microphone that an auctioneer had rejected, and a pair of white Peavey mics that looked like they came from the movie 2001- a Space Odyssey. Eventually a Roland DR-55 drum machine and Arp Axxe and Korg K-1 monophonic synthesizers were added to the instrument roster. Long loops of 1/4" tape could be strung across the control room around mic stands and played back through the 350 to serve as sampled beats.

The place was a laboratory where, knowing nothing of the science of recording, we investigated the properties of sound, music, and song like it was alchemy. We made some bad recordings and we made some good ones. A lot of paths fork off from the Cat Ranch.

Here's some of the stuff recorded there over roughly ten years, written by me unless otherwise indicated. Band songs may be covers or written by others in the band. Selected titles are linked to song files.
Bill Nork- Tourist Attraction
Bill on Wurlitzer piano and precision guitars, me on synth bass and underwater vocal.

Terry Keating- Real Love Is Real
Sweet lyric and vocal from Terry. All the sounds came out great.
the Cat Ranch console
control room left
I Have My Doubts

Big Red- How Many Times


Kenny Gross- Trenton Noway

You Look So Good

Dark 30- Because You Believed It

Hold Me

Robert Bobby- Jonesin' for Your Love Again

Listen to Me Linda

Bob Esbenshade- Lookin' Through Your Eyes

If I Were You

Lil' Nita- Now I'm Ready
Anita, the younger sister of a friend who stopped by to see the studio, had the perfect voice for this.

Grizzly Delights
This became a hit at the Cone House upstate.
Bill Nork- Boss Machine

Not Like You

Dark 30- You Make Me

This Time

Big Red- My Pride Hurts

outside rear
outside rear of the Cat Ranch
Dark 30- The Wave
Written and sung by Glenn Redcay, one of the best from the first Dark 30 recording.

The Stokers- Wallpaper Saga
This hyper-sonic gem of a jam includes the sounds of those glass light shades in the Main Room.
John Kelly
glass bells, John Kelly, Lee Drindel(?)
Robert Bobby- Saturday Mornin'

That's the Way

Dark 30- Aint No Sunshine

Wrap-Around Girl

Kenny Gross- Ugly Girls

One Way Glass

Kenny Gross- The Taking
It's got 50's sentimentality and 70's rawness, with a 90's bridge. Stix Patton on drums.

Dark 30- Sometimes in the Night
Our rock anthem, written and sung by Bob Esbenshade on the first Dark 30 release.
the Cat Ranch control room
view of control room from side room
side room, Bonnie
view from kitchen of side room with Bonnie
Jack O' Diamonds- Arcade
This Roland DR-55 driven instrumental was inspired by Centipede.

Robert Bobby- My Baby Loves Her Man
Mr. Bobby came to Paradise to commit about a dozen originals live to tape.
Dina and Bert
Dina and Bert
Robert Bobby- Saturday Mornin'

I Haven't Got Time for it Now

Kenny Gross- Mix and Mingle

Make Believe Stories

Big Red- Between You and Me

Life on Earth

No Chance of Meeting

Dark 30- Keep on the Move

Crossing State Lines

Big Red- It Don't Matter Anyhow

Skamatix- Drug War Game
Recorded for a Rich Stewart single, transferred from the test pressing.

Big Red- Frogtown
A smokin' instrumental, recorded live, and typical of their live performances.
Glenn and Steve
Glenn and Steve
Take It Back

Kenny Gross- I Dont Need It

Gone, Gone, Gone

Dark 30- Aint No Denyin'


Bob Esbenshade- The Beat of Her Heart

Fall Right Through
Here's a bridge!

Bill Nork- No One Wants to Talk to You
This one has a real Farfisa and that swingin' Casiotone drum sound. Da Da Da.
index card list tape #5
some lab notes
Big Red- Come and Get Me Coppers
Teenage angst, back when teenage angst was cool.

Surfin To You
I wrote a lot of beach songs.
Puffer and Fluffer
Fluffer and Puffer
The Blame- Public Places

Last Weekend

Robert Bobby- Just a Smile Away From Cryin'


Big Red- Apolitical Blues

The Stokers- Say Wen

Kenny Gross- Ozone
The original radio head.

Butcher at Your Door
Scene at a drive-in, probably.
Dark 30- One Lucky Roll

Sweet Talk

Bob Esbenshade- Streets of Love

The Man with the Bosses Face

Bill Nork- Friendly Bank

Lover You Are

Robert Bobby- Come On

The Stokers- Dinosaur Wagontrain

On the Beach

Bob Esbenshade- Complication

Lesson One

Big Red- How Long

holy book
the Holy Book
Bob Esbenshade- Livin' in a Lonely Place
Bob and I take a little trip to Berlin.

The Shocking Truth
Some people say!
Mike Robes
Dark 30- No Time

I'm Amazed

Robert Bobby- Silver

Mary Angelique

Bob Esbenshade- Waiting for Your Love

The Stokers- Saka1

Kenny Gross- About Half
Another Country
Take a little trip with me-e.

Bill Nork- Living Alone
You gotta do it.
Robert Bobby- In My Own Selfish Way

It Must Have Been in Spring

Big Red- Take Your Time


Bill Nork- Bad Jazz

Moonlight Serenade

Big Red- I Know

Saving It for You

Kenny Gross- The Boy Alone

Body of Fire

Bob Esbenshade- Don't Think I'll See You

With the Boys
big iron table
The Blame- I Believe It
Glenn wrote and sang this one.

Turnin Out Wrong
Ain't it the truth.
Steve and Guy
Stevie and Guy
The Blame- Slumber Party

One Lost Time

Bob Esbenshade- Pretty Baby

Because You Believed It

Kenny Gross- To Lonely People

Summer's Over

Big Red- Middle Class White Boy Blues

That's a Mother

Robert Bobby- Feel So Blue Since You Been Gone
Yerd Eployed V2
How much bass can I get on tape?

Robert Bobby- Genuine Queen of Milwaukie
A signature song.
Dark 30- Toward the Light
Another song by Glenn from the first Dark 30 release.

Kenny Gross- Nucular Rat
After Three Mile Island, Kenny finds that he's become project X-S-T.
Really Over You

Bob Esbenshade- Is It True?

What Goes Up

Kenny Gross- Dress and Dance

My Instructions

Bill Nork- Surf is Up
Bill and Loretta
Nork and Loretta
My ZZ Top phase.

Bill Nork- Better Man
An early one for me and Bill.
rick at the Cat Ranch
Rick at the Wurlitzer
With Your Heart

Bob Esbenshade- You Can't Go Home


Lights Out

Kenny Gross- Princess Raincloud

Wild and Woolly Days

Big Red- You Oughta Be My Baby
Filling local dance floors on a weekly basis.

A favorite of mine. It came along without a fight.
Crossing State Lines

Robert Bobby- Sounds Like You to Me

Jack O' Diamonds- Alien Beach Party

Bob Esbenshade- Apocalypse

You Make Me
the Fender Twinns
the Fender Twinns
When I Fell
Another one that came along sweetly.

The Stokers- Science Loop
Modified tape loop of the coda of "She Blinded Me with Science" under it all.
cars at the Cat Ranch
Bob Esbenshade- Heart Like a Badge

The Gunfighter

Jack O' Diamonds- Egg Whip

Crime of Love


Jack O' Diamonds-H-M Synth

World of Our Own
Takes me back to the rainy night Glenn and I recorded it- finished way late.

Bar Apartment
What could be better in your early 20's? One of John's favorites.
Bob Esbenshade- The Side Show

The Blame- Girls, Girls, Girls

On Those Legs

Bill Nork- Bring Back the Limbo

panel truck

third floor studio