Pat The Cat and his Kittens
The Italian community in upstate NY was quick to jump on the R&B bandwagon. Pat The Cat and His Kittens hailed from Binghamton, NY, where Pat "The Cat" Monforte and his brother Tony grew up playing in their father's band. Pat cut this record in 1952 at the age of 18, with singer and entertainer Vic Fontaine, on vocals (Pat's father also taught Vic how to play bass). This record was cut in the basement of the home of BSD label owner Angelo Pergolito, in Auburn, NY. This band cut a few other records for this label during this period, such as "Blow, Pat, Blow." Pat the Cat, with Vic Fontaine, appeared on Steve Allen's Tonight Show in the 1950's. This band continued to play locally for many years. In the early 50's it was Pat on tenor sax and Mario Darpino on alto sax, but by the late 50's Pat was playing alto to Dick Depofi's tenor. Pat died in 1981, Dick in 1999. Vic has had several local albums over the years and is still playing. The band's original and only drummer, Pat The Cat's kid brother Tony Monforte, is still giving lessons.
Pat The Cat.
Pat and Dick, dual sax!
We got the following e-mail from Tony Monforte, the drummer on this record:
"Hi. I'm Pat The Cat's brother and recorded "Little Rock Special" in the early 50's as you said. It was nice to see it on the web & I forwarded it to many of my friends. I don't remember the exact year, I would say 1952, but I'm not sure. I know that Pat The Cat recorded the sax in the hallway because that's where the echo sound was. I do have other recordings the Cat made such as Ain't Many Girls Like That, Blow Pat Blow, Little Old Wine Maker, Jesse James, Autumn Leaves & many more. I'm drumming on all 45's. I'm still checking on the exact year of Little Rock Special and will let you know, love your web-site....Tony Monforte (School of Modern Drumming, my 40th year!)"
Photo taken in 1959 at the Beachcomber in Wildwood, NJ, on same bill as the Treniers. Joe Sedlock on keyboard, Dick Depofi on trapeze, Tony Monforte on drums (Tucker Green's drums), Pat the Cat on trapeze, and singer Vic Fontaine, who also played bass. If you look closely at the drum rise, you will see The Fabulous Treniers, covered up. Pat "the Cat" & Dick Depofi would go up high on the trapeze and as they came together they would switch horns & keep blowing "Blow Pat Blow." Note that they are both playing tenor saxes here for the switch act, but Pat usually played alto sax.
Because very few copies of this record still exist and it's never been reissued, we took the courtesy to include the whole tune here.
Dear Hoy Hoy:
I dropped my daughter off at the movies about an hour ago and heard some great Hammond Organ blues/R&B/Rock on the radio. Started thinking about my High School days. For some reason it morphed into me thinking of a local band we all were crazy about called Pat the Cat Monforte and his Kittens. All those guys (the band) were from the 7th ward in Binghamton, NY. The Italian Ward. I was raised in the Russian/Polack/Czech ward and sometimes there was trouble, but man, we all were one family when it came to Pat the Cat. So I couldn't get "Little Rock" out of my head when I got home. Punched up the Gateway, and did a search for him and BINGO, there you are. I am one happy man. Thanks for all the work. I have immediately sent your website to a dozen of my old buddies who will smile like the Cheshire cat when they hear Pat the Cat.