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Jim Coash

The Incredible Party Barn!

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Greetings:  Growing up, all the family parties were at our house.  My Dad had one younger brother and three older sisters & so do I.  My Mom had one older sister and one younger brother, Martha has a brother and sister, both younger.  In the 50s and 60s we did visit the homes of our aunts and uncles and they all had kids, but no one had a place to party like we did.  No matter the time of year, we had the big living room with the Dyna Stereo system and the connected dining room with the Baldwin piano.  There was a very big recreation room in the basement, fully finished, with the TV and KLH stereo there.  In the summer we had a big screen porch looking out over a big back yard, a cement slab where the garage was originally and when Dad & I moved it closer to the road, we bolted a regulation steel post for "Tetherball" in the middle of it.  We also owned the vacant lot to the south which was perfect for all kinds of games.  No one else could even come close.  Martha and I became the natural inheritors of this tradition and when we built our house it had all the same amenities.  That made it the logical place for all family gatherings from 1977 until last year.  Now our sons have the properties next to us, on the lake, to the east and they have homes designed for parties too.  Martha and I are semi-retired from the party business, except for "The Party Barn"
20140309083638436.jpg If you saw some of my earlier pictures there was a shot of the barn taken from Martha's Jacuzzi room deck and a family shot of us seated on a lounger in the place where the barn now stands.  As our boys grew up we did all we could to keep them close so when they wanted to take their friends to a "Hot Tub" place we bought one and placed it on the walkout patio.  They could and did use it whenever they wanted and the only cost was helping maintain it..  Their friends seemed happy to occasionally get together and clean the filter, wash the walls and clean up the area.  It was a great idea.  When they wanted to go to a bar and play pool, we bought a regulation 8' table and set it up in the recreation room.  They played all they wanted and no one had to pay for play or drinks.  It was a great way to keep tabs on them.  When they left home, we sold both.
20140309084422111.jpg When they were old enough to drink beer, we bought a starter kit and made our first batch.  Now we make at least one batch of beer every month.  We began to call our enterprise "Little West Lake Brewing Company" in 2010.  A 22 oz. home brew costs us about $.50 and it compares with anything you can buy.  Under this metal sign (A Christmas gift from Martha) is our "tempering cabinet" where we age our brews in a completely controlled environment.  When we reached the point where we knew the boys would be graduating High School and College, and then be thinking about marriage, Martha and I started talking about our need for an outbuilding.  Our yard is large and we were getting older.  The boys were not around to help as much, they had lives of their own, and my old John Deere lawn tractor was simply not up to the job, so we shopped for a unit that would last us the rest of our lives.  When we bought our Kubota BX-2200 with all the attachments we needed, we had to borrow money and we decided to borrow enough to also build a suitable place to store it.  After a lot of discussion we designed "The Party Barn".  The perfect place for it was just north west of the house, about 100' away, and we wanted it large enough so that we would not be sorry we didn't plan for enough room.  In 1990 I took our plans to a few contractors and got some estimates.  We tried to maximize the space for the money and do as much as we could ourselves.  When we had need of a new well I had it placed close to the proposed spot, ran a water line back to the well for a yard hydrant and while the trench was open I placed 10-3 with ground in 3/4" PVC out to a 4" X 4" post conveniently equipped with outlets.
20140309090214745.jpg The space in the attached two-car garage that had been for parking the lawn tractor became a new room, the Jacuzzi room, with access from the MBR and it's own deck overlooking the west side of the house, Martha's primary garden area.  I planned ahead for separate electrical service, plenty of lighting, 12' ceiling, attached lean-to, large flat work area in front of the doors, a place to display my signs and posters and an excellent A/V system.  I think you can get the idea from the pictures. When it was done it became the mecca for all large family events.  Graduations, weddings, parties of all kinds, brewing, smoking foods and a place the boys could set up their band equipment and play all night as loud as they wanted to while we slept peacefully.  Today was the first time I was able to make it out there since late last fall so I took these shots.  If you look carefully you can see many things of interest to Carver people.  I have some really nice framed posters including the Carver 1.5 on the north wall above and many others from all the companies I have represented over the years.
20140309091400827.jpg In this shot, right in the middle on the floor you can see the SKB racks that are full of the equipment we use for gigs.  There is a "spare" rack to the right.  Our old kitchen counter and sink now occupy the corner and above you see one of the E/V Aries speakers I refurbished.  They are the mains for the room.  Other speakers are in this shot too, but some are hidden by the lawn furniture and ornaments that we have stored for the winter.  Over the projection TV screen is one of the two illuminated signs I have from "Stereo Showcase".  The larger one is on the north wall of the lean-to to the left.  Sacks of reels on the floor were for all the years I used them for gigs.  They were heavy machines and so were the sacks of tapes I carried.
20140309092052543.jpg Here is just one of those sacks.  Once I had a dozen of these labeled "Current", "Oldies", "Retired" and "Spares".  Notice that they are ALL custom made.  Some were recorded in the early 70s and they still play perfectly and sound fantastic.  All are 7", all recorded at 71/2 ips, all hand labeled with about 24 tracks on each side, 90 minute tapes with auto reverse and always checked after each gig to be sure they were not left in a "fast wound" state.  More than 90% are Maxell silver or gold label but there are some TDKs.  These were my primary source of gig music for many years and during that time I always had three machines at every party, one playing, one cued up and one being cued up with headphones.  It was a great system.  People were sure surprised to see how well I could change songs and how amazingly good the music was.  I will always love reel to reel.  Incredibly reliable, beautiful sound.
20140309092946970.jpg This is the south wall of the barn.  You can just see the edge of the left E/V Aries to the right.  The Panasonic Plasma TV is a new addition.  I repaired a faulty power supply on it and got it for the $60 it cost in parts.  It can display the same thing as the projector or any other antenna available channel.  It looks great.  Normally we turn off the 6 dual 8' fluorescent fixtures and use only the light from my "neon" sign collection.  There is also a big mirror ball and twin spots in the middle of the room for occasional use.  When I took this shot, today, the boys were starting the smoker with chicken breasts and heating the water for a 30 gallon batch of dark beer that will be ready in early May.  They moved the Kubota out and Martha's Yamaha golf cart outside to make room.  The sound system was playing cassettes and the warmth produced by the brewing, appreciated.
 The equipment rack for the barn is right between the two roll up doors.  At the very top is a large power amp, usually a Carver pro, connected directly to the E/Vs, the TEAC X-7R Mk-II is on display only, then there is an NAD 4300 Monitor Series AM/FM tuner, the Channel Master digital HD TV tuner, DVD player and Onkyo P-301 pre-amp.  All are plugged into an Atlantic HD terminal strip on the wall.  This system is very good sounding even with the 1963 speakers.  They do benefit from re-built woofers and really good Vifa dome tweeters in place of the original Phenolic ring tweeters that came from the factory.  Equal lengths of 12 gauge Monster wire run down the sides to the E/Vs.  No tone controls or EQ of any kind.
 Here you see the bottom of the rack with our house in the distance through the open door.  Most of the music comes from cassettes made by me, my sons and my brother-in-law (whose house is just behind the barn).  I have two of these Marantz Pro model decks, both auto reverse, one a little fancier than the other.  They have been flawless for almost 20 years now.  All I have ever done is clean them once in a while.  Many of the cassettes are 30 and even 40 years old, nearly all Maxell but some TDK, a few Sony or Fuji.  Nearly all work as good as they did when they were new and I must have well over 500.
20140309095301925.jpg This is the proof sheet from one run of "Music by Coash" business cards.  Some versions said "Featuring The Carver Sonic Holography" which sounded great at most gigs.  It did add a little noise and when it was out of circuit I could hear the difference.  I finally moved the C-9 out of the rack and left that off of the cards.  I also experimented with recording Holography on tapes and it worked just fine.
Every spring we take a weekend to move all the furniture and yard paraphernalia  out of the barn.  We clean the floor and re-treat it, vacuum everything, disassemble the system and clean all the pieces, usually making a few changes and then put it back together for the upcoming season.  This year I suspect I will be more of a bystander and adviser because of my surgery.  We also do that with the gig system and the last few years I have left all of those decisions up to Chris.  He does all the work.  All I do is service things that need it and sometimes solve problems or answer questions.  My boys have gotten so good at working with A/V equipment that I am rarely needed but I know they sometimes humor me.  I miss the gigs every bit as much as I do selling.  Playing for a crowd with recorded music was as close to actually performing as I ever got.  I used to play guitar occasionally with the family but it is harder now than it ever was before.  If I can regain some of my ability to move without so much pain I might be able to do some of that again but at least I still can re-live those times with the youngsters.  I hope you understand.  I also hope that when you have questions that you feel free to ask me.  Whether it's about my stories, my set-ups or general questions about your own difficulties, I love to feel that I am helping.  Enjoy!  Jim
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