Monterey’s Duplication Connection marks 25 years of recording big-name stars and rescuing down-home memories.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
The shop is cluttered, though the room’s only adornments are stacks and stacks of black and grey boxes, piled high. They look inactive, but are far from it. Each transports oceans of personally sacred information nanosecond by nanosecond. On small video screens embedded in the stacks, footage of strangers flash by – a woman encourages her kid to “Say hi to daddy” on a Christmas morning years ago, a family tumbles through a vacation at an unidentified exotic locale.
These are memories, being preserved for eternity (or at least another few generations).
Anthony Costanza, owner of Duplication Connection, is the master of taking information off obsolete mediums like 8-tracks and VHS and bringing them into the 21st century. He’s brazenly confident in his and his staff’s ability to transfer any kind of audio and video recording onto a CD or DVD.
“You don’t last that long in this business unless you are the best at what you do,” he says. “And we are definitely the best in the area.”
His staying power supports his claim: D.C. just celebrated a quarter century in business last month.
People tell him he performs miracles. One man brought in a recording of a band he did in London on a half-track, a reel-to-reel recorder popular in the ’60s and ’70s that very few people now-a-days recognize, let alone understand how to operate.
Successfully safeguarding that memory engendered uncommon loyalty. “[That customer] takes me out to lunch every month now, without fail, and won’t let me pay,” Costanza says.
Across the room Chris Wright, the “video guy,” as Costanza calls him, transfers a box of VHS cassettes onto DVDs.
“It’s challenging and fun,” Wright says. “I’m always coming across something new I haven’t seen before and have to figure out how to get working.”
Their clients range from the huge (Monterey Bay Aquarium) to the historic (Carmel Heritage Society). The content swings from the mainstream – when the 49ers need copies of their cheerleading routines made for prospective Gold Rush girls, they ring Duplication – to the margins: A cockfight pops up on a screen Sally Sirocky is watching.
Sirocky’s the 8-millimeter ace, and right now she’s transferring home movies of merry-go-rounds, hula dancing, and the bird battle onto DVDs.
The passing images have included history both national and nearby.
“I’ve seen the [North Atlantic Ocean] crossing of the Queen Mary back in the 1930s,” she says. “People going to the tropics in suits and gloves.”
But she’s also seen generations of the Rombi family, owners of Joe Rombi’s restaurant in Pacific Grove, grow up.
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While the front end of the business is dedicated to transferring recordings, Duplication has a recording studio in the back, a cool, cavernous space that draws celebrities reliably.
Reggie Jackson came into the studio to read for a book on tape about the Yankees. Alan Silvestri, a composer who’s created the soundtracks for blockbuster movies such as Beowulf, What Woman Want, and Cast Away, is a repeat client. According to Costanza, Cat Stevens, Doris Day, Elvin Bishop, and Al Jardine of the Beach Boys have all recorded at Duplication.
“Stevens is an old hippie,” Costanza laughs.
Local musicians remain the biggest clients. Dennis Murphy and Kenny Stahl are just some of the many Costanza’s gotten to know through the years.
“I’m in the middle of mixing a record today by singer songwriter Joel Gibson,” says audio engineer Richard Bryant. “This record has just about all of the A-list jazz musicians in the area.”
Bryant, who teaches record engineering at MPC and produces every album at the studio, goes on to name a who’s who in the Monterey jazz scene: Roger Eddy, Gary Meek, Kim Edmundson, Andy Weis.
Jardine brought along Glenn Campbell, Brian Wilson and Flea, bassist for Red Hot Chili Peppers, who traded his signature strummer for a trumpet. Michael Lent, who’s producing the album, was Barry Manilow’s guitarist.
“I get to see lots of talent,” says Bryant, who has sung with the likes of the Doobie Brothers himself. “Lots of generational talent, too. I just finished an EP for a group in Salinas and it’s really good. And these kids are 13 years old.”
Bryant’s referring to Population 5, an alt-pop band that’s been making sound waves around the state. Their allegiance shows that even as the team at Duplication Connection rescues precious footage from the past, they are very present in recording the county’s future.