Paul Prestopino (Sept. 20, 1939 - Jul. 16, 2023) was a multi-instrumental musician and an audio engineer from the artist colony in Roosevelt, New Jersey, and the son of artist Gregorio Prestopino. In 1958 -1959, Paul Prestopino played on Sunday afternoons in Washington Square Park in New York City's Greenwich Village with the Greenbriar Boys. He left the Greenbriar Boys before they became nationally known to serve as an accompanist for the Chad Mitchell Trio, and he also played behind Peter, Paul & Mary for at least fifteen years.
Prestopino worked from 1970 until 1989 was as a technician with the Record Plant Remote (the Record Plant's studio-on-wheels), where he served as a sound engineer for mainstream musicians in several musical genres. Although not a regular studio musician, he was known in the industry as a skilled accompanist, and due to his availability at the venue of many non-studio recordings (where he always brought instruments with him), Prestopino was frequently tapped to add a track or accompaniment whenever certain stringed instruments were desired. He was given credit on multiple hit records by bands and singers such as Aerosmith, Rick Derringer, Alice Cooper, Pete Seeger, John Denver, Tom Paxton, and Judy Collins, to name a few. On these recordings, he played (mostly) various fretted instruments including guitar, banjo, dobro and mandolin.
In the second half of his life, Prestopino regularly performed live in small musical venues within driving range of his home, including the New Jersey Folk Festival and Howell Living History Farm, where he typically appeared with Jugtown Mountain String Band. Prestopino usually attended Banjofest, the annual reunion of musicians who used to play in the park in the 1950s and ’60s, held in Washington Square Park, New York City. He performed annually for many years at the New England Folk Festival in Boston with his English Country Dance band (called Hold the Mustard). For 37 years, he played annually in the Roosevelt String Band in an always-sold-out, intimate concert at the Roosevelt Town Hall that included many accomplished musicians of all ages (such as Kai Altair) from the Roosevelt community. He also played regularly for contra-dances at Princeton Country Dancers (the contra-dance in Princeton, New Jersey) and acted as a sound and maintenance engineer, as well as a musician, for their open bands. At all these venues, Prestopino enjoyed jamming happily with a wide variety of musicians of all experience levels and playing styles. He was a great lover of traditional string band music in either old-time jams or bluegrass jams.
In 2019, he recorded a bluegrass album as a member of the Magnolia String String Band.
- Paul Prestopino Passes, obituary in Bluegrass Today posted on July 20, 2023 by Richard D. Smith. Last access 7/24/2023.
- Paul Prestopino bio on the Roosevelt Arts Project website.
- Presto’s “Imaginative” ADT Chango from the Record Plant Diaries, Jul. 13, 2021, referring to an ingenious rig-up Paul Prestopino created in July of 1971.
- The Friends of Record Plant NYC FB group announce the passing of longtime Record Plant maintenance tech and master musician Paul “Presto” Prestopino. by The Record Plant Diaries staff on Facebook, July 17, 2023.
- Paul Prestopino first contributed guitar and mandolin accompaniment to John Denver's Rhymes & Reasons album in 1969, and he also is credited for playing on eight subsequent album releases of works by John Denver, including Take Me to Tomorrow and Aerie_(album), as per the list of credits on AllMusic, per the album liner notes, and per the articles about the albums in Wikipedia.
- Paul Prestopino's List of Credits from 1962 to 2018 on AllMusic.com, last access 7/23/2023.
- List of 58 recording credits from 1963 to 2015 on RateYourMusic.com, last access 7/23/2023.
- Blackberry Blossom, by the Jugtown Mountain String Band] on Youtube featuring Paul Prestopino, August 25, 2018 at the Howell Living History Farm. Last access 7/24/2023.
- Google image search on Jugtown Mountain String Band shows dozens of photos of the band playing at local New Jersey venues over the years, all with Paul Prestopino in his signature colored overalls and mismatched socks, on stage and surrounded by his array of fretted instruments.
- Scoopy's Noteebook, Week of Oct. 5, 2017 report on the AM*NY website, Oct. 5, 2017, includes two photographs of Paul Prestopino in Washington Square Park at the Banjofest reunion of musicians who used to play in the park in the 1950s and ’60s.
- The Roosevelt String Band-35 Years On.... Roosevelt Arts Project (2023-01-31).
- Paul Prestopino, Banjo at State of the Arts, NJ, where Paul Prestopino gave State of the Arts a special mini-concert of one of his own compositions, “Weymann’s March” , in 2020.
- The tune repository for the Princeton Country Dancer's pickup band has notation for seven tunes composed by Paul Prestopino, including reels "Cats on the Ceiling", "Killer Bees", "On the Road" and "Southern Spy"; jigs "Hold the Mustard" and "Jugtown Jig"; and waltz "The Fools".
- Wrong Side of the Rain – Magnolia Street String Band review by Lee Zimmerman on Bluegrass today, March 3, 2020. Last access 7/24/2023.