Local recording studio celebrates 50 years, longtime owner reflects on history

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – From the outside, it looks like any other brick building, but the sign, Peppermint Productions, is what sets it apart from the others.

Peppermint records music, produces jingles, makes commercials, and it’s been doing it for 50 years. The whole time they’ve been out of the building at Indianola and Homestead on Youngstown’s south side, and with the same man in charge: Gary Rhamey.

“This is where it happens. This is the studio part of the studio,” Rhamey said.

He has owned Peppermint Productions for the entire 50 years it’s been in business.

“A lot of people have sung into this microphone,” he said.

While the studio is where all the musical instruments are used, Rhamey himself is more at home behind the glass.

One of their recording sessions was with Youngstown’s Anthony LaMarca.

“One of the reasons I thought this would be a good place to have a studio was because of the great musical talent that existed in the area, and I think I was right,” Rhamey said.

The roots of Peppermint date to the early 1960s.

“It began actually on Ellenwood Avenue in Youngstown, Ohio. There was a studio there called WAM Records,” Rhamey said.

Eventually, WAM morphed into Peppermint, which Rhamey bought in 1971. Every genre of music has been recorded there.

In fact, the 70s and 80s were among Peppermint’s busiest times.  

“We would have a band from Pennsylvania coming in on Friday and Saturday, and then at midnight on Saturday, a band from New York would show up,” Rhamey said.

More recently, Red Wanting Blue has used the studio, and the Vindy’s did some work there as well, but Peppermint is best known for polkas.

“This is Lenny Gomulka from Connecticut was here last week. We finished recording his album,” Rhamey said.

And Peppermint’s polkas have won some impressive awards.

“Actually, we’ve had five albums we’ve done here in the polka category that have won Grammys,” Rhamey said.

Rhamey is 75 and still has no plans to retire.

“Well, people keep asking me to do work, and I enjoy it. I don’t know if I’m going to retire yet, but I am certainly taking it a little bit easier than I used to,” he said.

WAM Records was started by Youngstown polka legend Del Sinchak, and Sinchak still works at Peppermint as Rhamey’s top consultant.

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