Telephone Booth/MFH

It was 1999. The end of a decade, or the beginning of a new one. It was the year that Giancarlo Rendina stumbled into Red Onions in Ybor City to apply for a job. He heard the music playing in this amazing print shop and thought it would be a good fit for him. No one imagined that he and Bob Dorsey, Valrico’s first experimental art gallerist, would together, single-handedly, side by side alter the course of music in the days to come.

At their first meeting at Bob’s Alafia River recording studio, known as the Telephone Booth, Giancarlo came armed with a book of lyrics and rhythmic ideas to start the process. He knew exactly what he wanted the drums to do, and we started there, working on a Boss Dr Rhythm 220 A drum machine and programming the beat for our first tune. “Boom bap bap! Boom bap bap!” he commanded as Bob programmed each measure and played it back, awaiting his response. “No. Boom bap bap! Boom bap bap!” he reiterated. One measure after another, the two manufactured the drums they sought, stringing them together like neither had done before.

With the drum track to his satisfaction, Giancarlo began singing to the beat. We recorded both tracks very quickly, between a couple of smoke breaks, and it was pretty unusual and fantastic because normally one would record vocals much later, using a guitar or a bass as a reference.

The pressure was on for Bob, because he had to create a bassline that would not only fit with the vocals, but make girls dance. Using both notes, this simple bassline had accomplished its mission. Now it was Giancarlo’s turn again.

He had his gorgeous black Epiphone tuned in and turned up. Still singing as he hammered purposefully on his guitar with swagger and ferocity as he came up with his inspired guitar riff.

Four tracks on a Tascam cassette 4 track and we were almost done. I think we bounced the bass and drums to one track so we could add some walkie talkie vocals and some back up vox. 100% satisfied with our day’s work, we agreed that the most logical thing to do would be fly out to Ybor and let Erik Donaldson hear the track. His critical ear was a make or break moment for the band. Arriving to New World Brewery as he was loading his vehicle, Giancarlo didn’t plead with Erik as much as he convinced him of the importance of why we drove 25 minutes to see him. Being a man of great judgment and an uncanny ability to know if someone if BSing him or not, Erik ordered us to help drag his gear back out to the patio so he could audition the track. To the delight of the curious, lingering audience and ourselves, Erik’s smile revealed that the last 1:50 was not wasted time. There’s conflicting reports as to how many times he actually played it that night, but my version of the story is 27 times.

Fast forward to August 2020 and Erik asks on the Facebook, “Do you happen to have a copy of MFH doing Radio Kosovo?” hence the reason for this long overdue acknowledgment of one of the last wonderful and meaningful musical moments of the 20th century.

Next Wave Rocker

by Telephone Booth | Telephone Booth

Song Is Respiration

by Telephone Booth | Telephone Booth

Bobby D chats with his future father-in-law Hondo Hernandez between sets.


by Telephone Booth | Telephone Booth

Love In The Key Of M

by Telephone Booth | Telephone Booth

Double Drag Fool

by Telephone Booth | Telephone Booth

Bobby D chats with his future wife Katyraven Hernandez after the show.

The Kiss, The Box

by Telephone Booth | Telephone Booth

Telephone Booth is G. Rendina & Bobby D
Lyrics and Guitar Noises – G. Rendina
Bass, Synthesizers and Drums – Bobby D
Telephone Booth – all songs ©1999
Photos by Katyraven Hernandez
Special Guests for the Barriers performance – Monkey Finn Hypocrasy vocalist Finn Bolam and Sound Technician Manfred Hohenegger.