My friend and renowned tube polymath J.C Morrison says, “Blackie Pagano is sweet, smart, and has a devious sense of humor . . . (that I love). His work is reliable and he has years of experience keeping every imaginable band functioning in the gutted rock holes of NYC. Not only all that, but he is also a musician . . .”

1992: Back in the days of Don Garber’s “Fi” at 30 Watts Street in New York, there existed a loose conglomerate of scruffy solderers that outsiders called “The New York Triode Mafia.” They built experimental directly heated triode amps coupled to unconventional tapered-pipe, horn-loaded or open-baffle speakers. The inner circle “Scruffies” consisted of Garber, J.C. Morrison, Noriyasu Komuro, Tadataka Uchida, Steve Berger, myself, and Blackie Pagano (who we had to keep on the fringe because he had so much un-scruffy Lower East Side tattooed fashion).

When Fi closed, this little scene evolved into these international, annually convened, conventions of independent amp designers, called “New York Noise.” Blackie (who had more of a Neat intelligence) was an important force in NY Noise. He brought a refined bespoke audio mindset to a group that fared better with steampunk soldering irons than steam laundry irons.

1996: What was NY Noise? Just imagine Japanese women in Kimonos playing music on cell phones driving walls of Marshall amps. Picture 3-watt amplifiers with six tubes and no chassis! Imagine a former Stanton Street bodega named Arlene’s Grocery filled with oscilloscope readers and profligate hipsters giving each amp builder his (or her) 15 minutes of fame. As long as I can remember Blackie has been the New York tube audio equivalent of Jim Jarmusch or William Burroughs.

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