When Sally Fingerett was announced as one of the artists selected to appear on the second Q-FM-96 hometown album in September 1980, she’d only lived in Columbus for about a year. Having cut her teeth in the Chicago folk scene and with the Buffalo Gals in Nashville, the 25-year-old singer/songwriter was already an industry vet. She’d married Amerisound Studios owner Dan Green in October 1979 in Chicago and settled down with him in Columbus, where she’s lived ever since. In 1982 Fingerett began recording her songs with the cream of the crop of Columbus studio musicians at Amerisound. These tracks would make up the impressive, sophisticated debut, Encl/sf (Enclosed).
Amerra Records – AMR 197 7797
Released in early 1984 on Amerisound’s newly formed Amerra Records label, the recording quality is world-class. The regular session players at Amerisound were some of the best musicians in Columbus at the time and Green was certainly comfortable handling production duties at his studio. The talented drummer/singer/keyboardist Frank Pierce performed with Fingerett on the Q-FM-96 Vinyl Ecstasy track and he made significant contributions to Enclosed as well. The background vocals alone, which Pierce received credit for arranging with Fingerett, are worth the price of admission. Larry Cook (not to be confused with my good friend and one-time Columbus bassist Larry Cook) and Dan Green (vocals/percussion) made up the core of the studio musicians on Enclosed, which includes an orchestra on several tracks and no fewer than 20 musicians.
Fingerett was born and raised in Chicago. After meeting Dan Green through a mutual friend after her June 1, 1979 gig at the Barbarossa in Chicago, Fingerett and Green quickly formed a bond. By October 1979 they were married and living in Columbus. After gigging around town for a couple of years - often as a solo performer, but also as part of the Radish Guild comedy troupe - Fingerett was awarded best solo performer at the first annual Virgo (Columbus music) awards. Frank Pierce won the award for best percussionist.
Green’s production on Enclosed is better than many major label recordings of the early ‘80s. The recording is organic and tasteful, avoiding the pitfalls frequently associated with the era's production style. Synthesizers play a creative role, but they don’t dominate the mix. As Green noted in the liner notes of the 1992 CD release, the recording has certainly “withstood the test of time.” The current CD version, with different cover art, is still in print and available - pretty remarkable for an independent album released almost 40 years ago.
Encl/sf was officially released on January 11, 1984 with a show at Stache’s. The record opens with piano and fretless bass on “Ladies Lunch,” immediately signaling the stylistic breadth that unfolds throughout the 10 tracks. Things get jazzier on “She’s Got Your Love” with Barney Rooker’s tenor sax, Frank Pierce on Rhodes, Joe Ong on vibes, atmospheric backing harmonies and tasteful electric guitar swells from Larry Cook. “Here In The Midwest” is quite a production, complete with orchestra and gorgeous backing vocals. It’s followed by the rocker “Here’s To The Women,” which showcases a Bo Diddley beat and some killer slide/lead guitar trade-offs from Cook.
The album was well-received locally and nationally. The Columbus Dispatch called it a “greatly promising debut,” while noting the “impeccable musicianship and production.” Playboy magazine even took note, sandwiching a review between commentary on the latest releases from Los Lobos and The Pretenders. “Take the risk; she’s worth it,” Playboy wrote in the June 1984 issue, calling their favorite track, “‘Ask Any Mermaid You Happen To See,’ a female take on the country-and-ocean territory staked out by Jimmy Buffett.” The track’s lyrics recount a boating excursion she braved with her bandmates in The Buffalo Gals.
Six months after completing production of Enclosed, Fingerett got caught in a blizzard and a twenty-car pile-up while driving to a Cleveland gig. The experience moved her to decide that maybe life on the road wasn’t for her after all. The lack of national touring likely put a crimp in promoting Enclosed, but ultimately the album provided Fingerett with a big break anyway. In October 1989, Fingerett’s sister-in-law picked up singer-songwriter Christine Lavin at the airport for a gig in Minneapolis. Lavin, who’d met Sally at a jam session early in their careers, recognized the last name. They struck up a conversation and Lavin ended up with a copy of Enclosed.
Lavin was putting together a winter music compilation and felt the Enclosed track “Wild Berries,” about an adventurous young hitchhiker Fingerett had once picked up in the snow, would be a great fit. Christine Lavin Presents: "On A Winter's Night" ended up being successful artistically and commercially. In January 1990, Lavin called Fingerett about doing a short tour with four women songwriters. Some recordings of the tour were compiled into an album released by Rounder Records imprint Philo and the highly successful Four Bitchin’ Babes was born. Fingerett recounts this and many other stories - like the time Red Skelton, the inspiration for "The Red Man," sent her a heartfelt thank you note for the tribute - in the excellent memoir, The Mental Yentl.
Although Green and Fingerett divorced in 1996, they remained friends until his passing in 2021. Amerisound remains in Columbus as does Fingerett.
“I have built my life here. I have created a life here and I love Columbus,” Fingerett told Bill Cohen in a 2015 interview for the Columbus Jewish Historical Society. “I came here in 1979 because I found a place to park and I thought, ah, who wouldn’t want this? Green peppers were three for a dollar and I could park anywhere I wanted to go. Sold. Honest.”
B3 The Red Man
B5 Wild Berries
Recorded At – Amerisound Studios
Mixed At – Amerisound Studios
Published By – Green Fingers Music
Acoustic Guitar – Sally Fingerett (tracks: A2, A4, B4)
Congas – Walter Neil (tracks: A2, B1)
Drums, Percussion – Gary Strauss (tracks: B2)
Rhodes – Frank Pierce (tracks: A2, B1, B4)
Mouth Harp – Mark Saunders (tracks: B2)
Synthesizer – Glen Roger Davis (tracks: B5)
Tenor Saxophone – Barney Rooker (tracks: A2)
Vibraphone – Joe Ong (tracks: A2, B1)
Symphony Arrangements – Glen Roger Davis
Engineer – Bruce Helmink
Graphics – Wendy Wallut
Liner Notes – Sally Fingerett
Photography By – D.R. Goff
Producer – Dan Green
Written-By – Sally Fingerett
Musician credits taken from CD release.
Symphony (A3, A5, B3, B5) arranged by Glen Roger Davis
Richard Bell - cello
Tim Mika - viola
Clare Bell - violin
Dean Rousch - harp
Kent Larmee - French horn
Randy Hester - flute
Alien Cample - trumpet/flugle horn
Steve Secan - oboe