Several years ago, Clint Holley, a local musician and DJ who ran sound at the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern back in the day, got an itch to do something a little different with his life. He still wanted to be involved in music in some way, but he was tired of staying up all hours of the night at the club.
When he heard that the local vinyl plant Gotta Groove was looking for someone to "cut" masters, he consulted the late Albert Grundy, who had been restoring the cutting lathes and working on them since the '50s. Grundy sold him a restored machine and taught him how to use it. Now that piece of equipment, a huge contraption that looks like a record player attached to a life support system, sits in Holley's Fairview Park basement and the Gotta Groove connection became a legitimate business opportunity.
"From the 1950s to the 1980s, Neumann made like 500 of these things," Holley says one morning in his basement. "Nobody knows how many are still around. There are maybe 50 to 60 guys in the United States who have them. There are a few hundred around the world who have them. I knew about one in Zimbabwe and entertained the idea of shipping it up here, but then I thought, 'Who do I have to bribe to make that happen?'"
He estimates he's cut some 3,000 records with it and a second machine he's purchased. And business is so good he's had to hire an employee to help him keep up with demand, which has spiked as vinyl has enjoyed a comeback among music fans.
Now he's planning to move his company, aptly dubbed Well Made Music, into a more formal workspace in the 78th Street Studios, surrounded by dozens of other artistically minded folks making their dreams come true.
"I'm excited about the new space," he says. "I have a lot of guys coming in and out of the house [to listen to their records as they're getting mastered]. When I move, it won't look like I'm dealing drugs out of the house."
He's gotten steady work from Gotta Groove and from the Concord Music Group, which owns the rights to Rounder Records, Fantasy Records and Stax Records. It plans to reissue about 100 albums per year on vinyl, and Holley will be their go-to guy.
"That's the stuff I really get a charge out of," he says when asked about whether the job is fulfilling on an artistic level. "And it's great that I'm not working for Eaton Corp. or Key Bank." No offense to people that do, obviously.