The Pilla Building in the early 20th century Photo courtesy of Eudora Area Historical Society
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How did a lawyer from Connecticut and a guy who runs a PR firm in Wisconsin end up at Blacklodge Recording in downtown Eudora making an album they ultimately named Eudora? It’s a winding road that brought this pair to our little neck of the woods.
Dave Kenna and Mark Farley were both musicians throughout high school in NY in the late 1970’s and early 80’s playing hard rock and heavy metal. Their style changed after Farley sang an Allman Brothers tune with a two-piece band in a little bar in Long Island. Kenna and Farley realized they could put together something acoustic that would allow their harmonies to be heard and would focus on their melodies rather than just volume. Thus, the two-man band Second Wind was born in 1982.
The friends ended up attending different colleges but met up on breaks and played in Long Island during the heyday of the wine and cheese scene. It wasn’t exactly the most profitable thing in the world.
Kenna explained, “We could get lots of acoustic gigs for about $20 a night with a $10 bar tab.”
Their careers took them in different directions after college, but the two continued to get together once a year to attend an NFL game together. Each year they chose a city they’d never been to before.
“As 2012 approached,” recalled Kenna, “it occurred to me that we were coming up on the 30th anniversary of our first gig as Second Wind, so I suggested to Mike that we head to Kansas City and bring a guitar along so we might record a few songs.”
Mike was skeptical, but the guys wound up each writing a new song and then combining Dave’s melody and chorus with Mike’s lyrics for a third song. They finished it off with a favorite Jim Crose tune. The friends then headed to Kansas where they spent the day recording at Eudora’s Blacklodge before attending a Chief’s game later in the weekend.
At that time Blacklodge Recording was in the historic old Pilla building at 7th & Main. It is currently the personal studio of Hawaii-born-and-raised songwriter Kawehi. From 1862-1929 the building was the Pilla Store (owned by Charles Pilla, once mayor of Eudora) that sold groceries, general merchandise and farm implements. In the years following it housed many grocery different stores, a funeral chapel and another recording studio. Dave Kenna described the building as having “amazing acoustics” for recording.
Kenna and Farley had a great experience in Eudora, not only at the recording studio but also meandering around town and eating lunch at Jasmine’s. Mike Farley thought that a restaurant that combined Chinese and Mexican cuisine was just odd enough that it had to be tried. They were not disappointed in either the food or the people they met as they wandered the streets of Eudora after the meal.
“Folks we met along the way were excited that we were recording and were so open and friendly that as the recording came to together, we decided that the most appropriate name for the album would be Eudora,” explained Kenna. “I associate the name Eudora with one of the greatest days of my musical life.”
Farley added, “It was the perfect setting for two old friends to record and put something on CD after 30 years.”
After finishing the recording, Kenna and Farley decided to release the CD to raise money and awareness for autism. They added two songs they had previously recorded and wound up with an acoustic album that Kenna believes “captures where we started, where we went on our own and where we are now.” They couldn’t be happier with the result.
“What I find amazing,” said Kenna, “is how we just picked up the ball so easily and how our voices, 30 years on, still seem to work together. We insisted on minimal technology in the recording and allowed our mistakes and the natural acoustics of the room to shine through.”
Dave Kenna can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.