Dave Catalano at the Argosy workstation inside Beach Street Music, newly renovated after Hurricane Sandy left it under three feet of sea water. BABYLON, NY—Nearly one year ago— October 29, 2012—cyclone Sandy, physically the largest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, made landfall in New Jersey and tore through the northeast. Located just yards from the waters of an inlet on the south coast of Long Island in Babylon, NY, production music house Beach Street Music was soon under three feet of water.
“I have an eight-year-old that loves to fish off the dock; he’s always getting snapper or maybe a cocktail blue,” says David Catalano, who established the company in 1995. “But after the storm, we had a beautiful striped bass right in the studio—it was pretty ugly.”
Anything below the high-water line was lost to the storm. “My patchbays and Avalon 737s were at a certain height in the rack. Sammy, who works for us, said, ‘Dave, do you think we should take them out?’ I said, ‘Sam, if the water gets that high we have bigger problems.’ Well, the day after, he called me. I said, ‘We’ve got bigger problems!’”
In addition to three Avalons and three Switchcraft 96-point patchbays, two racks of noise gates and a bunch of guitar stomp boxes, Catalano also lost two drum sets and two Hammond C-3 organs to the flood. “I was fortunate enough that I got a B-3 replacement, and we might be able to salvage one of the C-3s. But we’re still here, and we didn’t lose anybody.”
The building, a former carriage house built in 1902 that was relocated from Long Island’s Gold Coast—made famous by The Great Gatsby—in 1939 and acquired by Catalano in 2002, has undergone a total renovation. The Bohemian feel of the original oak paneling has been replaced by sheetrock for a more modern vibe, he says: “Flood insurance only covers up to $250,000 in repairs, and the wood alone probably would have exceeded that.”
The salt-water devastation afforded an opportunity to replace the building’s plumbing and wiring, some of it dating back to 1939, he reports. The structure was essentially stripped back to the four exterior walls. The upstairs layout was left untouched but Catalano has reworked the firstfloor plan, adding iso booths and raising the control room floor to accommodate new studio cabling.
A core group of about half a dozen composers and musicians work out of the Babylon facility, but Beach Street Music also calls on a roster of composers working elsewhere. “We do more of the live performing with guitars and keyboards and drumming, and then we have a couple of guys on the West Coast that pretty much specialize in hip-hop and pop, and do more of the MIDI,” says Catalano. “I do more of the cinematic stuff, a lot of classic rock stuff, and anything with an overdriven guitar.”
Recent projects have included music packages for the four shows produced at NBC Universal’s Stamford, CT studios. “We’re always doing work for CBS. We just did a couple of projects for MTV. We do a lot of syndicated and cable work. As far as prime time, it’s more news-oriented,” he says.
During renovations, Catalano has been operating out of his nearby home, having converted a couple of spare rooms and installed an Argosy Console workstation to house his gear. “Within the next year or so, I’m going to be opening up another room in Vermont. I bought a new Argosy to go in the old studio down here, and the Argosy I’m using now, we’re going to put up in the new Vermont facility once we find the property,” he reports.
Having worked on large format mixing consoles for much of his life, Catalano is enjoying having all of his equipment close at hand in the Argosy. “What really drew me to it first and foremost was that it could accommodate an 88-note keyboard right in front of me. It accommodates my visual monitors as well as my audio monitors very well, and I have everything available without having to spin around to access everything.”
The studio boasts an impressive collection of 500 Series gear, including A-Designs, API, Chandler, Grace Designs, Rupert Neve Designs and SSL modules. One Avalon 737 survived the inundation. “There are something like 75 or 80 guitars floating around, and a couple of nice Bogner and Marshall amps,” he adds.
The studio’s mic locker includes numerous Neumanns as well as models by Blue, Shure and Soundtronics. The front end of the Digital Performer DAW has been beefed up with 32 channels of Apogee Symphony and Rosetta 800 I/Os.
As the team moved everything back in over the Labor Day weekend, the only thing missing was that insurance money. “At this point, I’m close to $200,000 out of pocket,” says Catalano. “FEMA has not been as helpful as they would like the rest of the country to think.”
Beach Street Music