The inside of Russell Mofsky’s head is like a tour of your cool neighbor’s garage, the one with the recording studio in it.
There are guitars and amps, old skateboards and surfboards, Miles Davis albums next to those of Debussy and Sonic Youth, a console TV set once home to “Gilligan’s Island,” “Bonanza,” “Hogan’s Heroes” and “Lawrence Welk,” some Bettie Page pictures, fliers from an assortment of Brooklyn and Wynwood bars, a poster for “A Fistful of Dollars” and a roll-up movie screen that might have flickered with 16mm scenes from “Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women.”
Imagine trying to represent all this in a single work of art. Such is Mofsky’s challenge with the album that his band, Gold Dust Lounge, is trying to make real with the help of a Kickstarter campaign that goes live Saturday night. A discussion of “Lost Sunset,” the band’s first full-length studio album, seems to force Mofsky into more rarely visited recesses of his garage, er, brain.
Memories of his Miami Beach youth as a “kid looking down from a second-floor window on Pinetree Drive — this was the early 1970s — looking down on all those closed-down hotels” intertwine with visions created decades later during Gold Dust Lounge’s sunset performances at the Standard hotel, where the beauty “really opened up my mind.”
“I guess it all ties into growing up,” says Mofsky, who pays most of his bills by teaching pre-kindergarten in Miami. “I’m 42, my daughter is 6. It’s about becoming adults. I don’t usually think in those ways.”
Mofsky grew up for the first time to a soundtrack of “skateboard punk rock,” before friends recommended he direct his improvisational instincts toward jazz. He attended the University of Miami and the New England Conservatory of Music, and bounced around clubs in Brooklyn and Manhattan’s Lower East Side. But something was missing.
“I didn’t feel like I was in the right place,” Mofsky says. “Jazz is very serious. It’s an art form. Not to disparage it in any way, but it didn’t feel right.”
A turning point came when Mofsky stumbled across a Fender Jazzmaster guitar at Glades Guitar on Pines Boulevard. Hooked up to an old Fender amp, it produced a sound that was magical, menacing and transformative.
“It’s the iconic guitar of surf rock, a big, lush sound with plenty of reverb,” he says. “I always loved that sound.”
And for the past five years, he has been using it to create a swaggering rhythm, at once modern and reflective of the neon-lighted era of old Miami Beach: You can almost smell the go-go dancers. Gold Dust Lounge takes its name from the bar at an old Biscayne Boulevard motel.
Mofsky says “Lost Sunset,” produced by Aaron Fishbein, will meld all the influences he has collected over the years: sci-fi, Western swing, Afrobeat, polka and spy themes. “It’s an amazing sounding record,” Mofsky says.
Along with Fishbein, Mofsky credits the band, including Arturo Garcia on drums, James Quinlan Jr. and Brian Tate on guitars, Randy Singer on harmonica, Juan Turros of Suenalo on sax and flutes, and two other special guests, percussionists Akintayo Akinboro and Oyemade Oluwaseun Kabir, from Femi Kuti’s Positive Force Band.
“At this point in my life, ‘Lost Sunset’ is a reconciling, coming back to all the stuff of my childhood, seeing how these things influenced you,” he says. “I’m thinking about time.”
Mofsky is looking for $15,000 in his Kickstarter effort to finish the recording process, manufacture the CDs and 300 vinyl albums, along with the epic album-jacket artwork from tiki artist Robert Jimenez. The funds will also cover a variety of thank-you offerings for Kickstarter pledgers from $10 to $500. For more information, go to Kickstarter.com after midnight Saturday night or visit Facebook.com/The-Gold-Dust-Lounge.