My first two albums came out on Heyday Records, founded by Pat Thomas, who released his records with the promotional slogan, “The folk revival starts here.” The label’s name was inspired by a Fairport Convention album. The idea of a recording artist with his own label impressed me. A few years later, Ron Gompertz, a local SF entrepreneur, invested in Heyday and ended up owning it. The roster then changed a bit from Barbara Manning, ex-Green On Red members and musical friends of Pat to an eclectic mix of local artists, including Connie Champagne and Jerry Shelfer. I like to believe it was me that drove Ron to leave the music business.
Ron once told me that with Heyday, he wanted to bring to full circle the original line up of artists that performed at the Acoustic Music Project show at the Full Moon Saloon in 1989, featuring several Heyday artists plus Mark Eitzel, Chuck Prophet, and a reformed Translator. A CD of the show was released with some more tracks recorded by Oliver DiCicco at Mobius Music (now the home of Decibelle Recording). It was an AIDS benefit, an idea cooked up by Ron and Denise Sullivan. They both had shops in the Haight–Ashbury and were music fans with some connections to the local scene. I was not invited to perform, but then neither was Aldo Blissboy Perez. Barry Simons got involved, brought in Alex Chilton.
For the next couple of years, investing in the Heyday label was a pet project for Ron. At the time, he had a company called Modern Options, which basically paid for Heyday’s ambitious projects and the promotion of my albums. Modern Options made faux finish paints and chemicals to form a green patina, like on the Statue of Liberty. The product was popular, and they had a small busy staff in the American Can Building on 3rd St. That building was previously an artist space in the ‘80s, back in the days of squatters and junkies living beside painters and other artists. It was on the edge of unincorporated SF, the Southern Pacific railyards and a PG&E coal-burning plant. Now it’s a corridor of palm trees, glass shelters for the light rail line, but still a place you don’t walk around at night.
My album Sight & Sound had come out on Heyday in October 1993, but instead of going on tour, I was hanging around town, looking for work. One of my part-time jobs was to make point-of-purchase displays for Modern Options. Having worked my share of temp jobs, I knew how to make a gig last, so I “paced myself.” I would soak pieces of brass in a cleaning solution, then put corrosive chemicals on them. They would turn green, or blue, or black, depending on what was in the bottle. There were also bits of wood with metallic paint that would turn corrosive colors. Then I’d attach the pieces to a plastic sheet with a glue gun. The crew of mentally disabled folks who did the work before I was hired finished in half the time I took, which Ron pointed out in the most diplomatic way.
A trade show was coming up, and Ron always liked to concoct some special (without fear of being dorky) marketing plan to stand apart from the others. One of us came up with Patina Turner, soul singer...I wrote the song Patina Soul and quickly recorded it. I made sure to feature the entire product line in the lyrics. Judy Barton, right hand in the office to Ron, was to perform to the recording at the trade show. I should have shaved my legs, strapped on a tight dress and done it myself.
PATINA SOUL C. von Sneidern
I wanna get some action, hey, hey
from a chemical reaction today
With copper, brass, or bronze
You must have seen Miss Liberty
this green’s not jealousy
Turning new to old
Turnin’ green and blue and black, y’all come on back
and I’ll tell you more
Copper Topper gonna make it possible
Gilded Gold and Silver Plate will find a mate
with any paintable surface
and your creative purpose