Aluminum Dream

From: Millbrook, NY, USA

Aluminum Dream were the house band for the Castelia Foundation on the estate of William Hitchcock at Millbrook, New York. The foundation was run by Professor Timothy Leary, and was actually for research into LSD experiences. Members included Billy Barth (guitar, vocals), Alan Landon (guitar, vocals), Joan Silver (farfisa organ, vocals), and Kevin Callaghan (drums). The band played the opening of painter James Rosenquist’s exhibition at the National Gallery in Ottawa, Canada in 1968. They would also open for Janis Joplin and B.B King that same year. Every Wednesday night of that year, Aluminum Dream played at Palm Gardens Ballroom in Manhattan, along with bands such as Elephant Memory and Group Image.

Aluminum Dream were fortunate in that they had financial support even though they never had any commercial opportunities. William Hitchcock originally supported the band, and then they were supported by Richard Feign Gallery. For whatever reason, the management team for Aluminum Dream never took any of the offers presented to them by a major label, so in 1969, the band split up. The only recording of Aluminum Dream’s to survive is “Strangers Calling,” a psychedelic-pop song with male and female harmonies, a heavy organ riff, and a classic trumpet solo.

From Billy Barth:

“I remember that we stole one of Frank Zappas tambourines that he left behind in the studio. That night our bass player went back to Brooklyn with the keys to the truck in his pocket. It was twenty degrees out and we had to sleep in the truck covered with the amp covers. We froze and what made it worse was we were stoned. That’s all I remember [about the Apostolic session].

“In 1966 I met Allan Landon at a multi media show called Rock Flows, where I was playing with The Little Orange Crate, a group that broke up soon afterward. Allan and I decided to form a group with two of his friends from Brooklyn, Douglas Weiss, 17, a bassist, and Joan Silver, 19, singer and keyboard player. We had several drummers but the only name I remember is Kevin Callaghan who was also 17 and from Easthampton. L.I.

“We became the in house band in the summer of 67 at Millbrook, the estate of William Hitchcock (Billy) thanks to Kathy Hartford, the best friend of my then girlfriend Cinnie Hoge Kathy is the heiress to the A&P fortune. She arranged for us to play at the July Fourth Party at the “bungalow” (a reproduction French Chateau) at Millbrook. Tim Leary welcomed us from the porch of the Big White House and we were soon tripping our brains out among about 80 costumed members of New York and Palm Beach jet setters. There were fireworks at night and a sunrise I remember as the biggest natural strobe light imaginable.

“We played for more parties, a wedding (Artie, the guitarist of Group Image which you probably know about as another psychedelic punk group), and played a stoned baseball game with Tim Leary pitching. he complimented me on my hitting. One of the few actual gigs we did was to open for BB King and Janis Joplin in her New York debut in the winter of 67 at the Anderson Theatre. Most of the time we stayed in our loft on West 29th street stoned, playing, and listening to the Beatles and Stones. In 1968 we were taken by our manager Bill Leonard to Ottawa, Canada to appear on a TV show called Saturday Date and to play at the opening of a show of paintings by American artist James Rosenquist. On the TV show we caused outrage all across the region by advising kids to take drugs. They got mail. Somewhere there s a film called “Lets All Make Love in New York” by British filmaker Peter Whitehead in which we appear playing on a television soundstage. I never saw it but maybe you could search the web for this guy and find it. Well, that s about it, except that at Millbrook we played a party with the Grateful Dead and they were really nice guys and not bigheaded at all.”

Billy Barth- 2000

Artist information sources include: Lastfm.com and Launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/psychedelica/message/7879

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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

“Strangers Calling” can be found on U-Spaces: Psychedelic Archaeology Vol. 4
U-Spaces Vol. 4

  • Strangers Calling