I haven’t done one of my personal blogs for awhile, and this just came in, so we interupt our regularly scheduled harp guitar blogs for this nostalgic moment.
My brother Mark went to his 45th high school reunion last night. To “prep,” he got out his yearbooks for a quick cram session. Having graduated two years ahead of me (1971, I was ’73), he has the 1970 & ’71 yearbooks, I have my last two. So I had completely forgotten about this picture, which he just sent!
Yes, that’s me with the guitar (not mine, I don’t know whose or what). For our sophomore year variety show (with a Woodstock theme), a portion of our band did our C, S & N bit. Here we are in the backstage of the theater department recreating the “couch album cover.”
To my left is Dave Ives, who went on to open his own ad agency as is probably a millionaire by now (he has recently started writing songs and putting out albums again!).
On my right is Rick Hilsabeck who remained a best friend for decades. He’s had a long multi-hyphenate career after high school, though he was rarely able to put to use his incredible gift for comedy (he remains as creative and talented as Jim Carrey). After a long stint and study with the Young Americans (while I was trying to find my first post-high school job, he was on Bing Crosby’s Christmas special!), he became a professional dancer (the now-world famous Hubbard St. Co’s first male dancer), then a musical theater star (the lead in the touring version of Phantom of the Opera), and a whole host of credits. He now co-runs a performance arts school with his wife, Sarah Pfisterer (Phantom’s Christine).
On the left (not a part of the variety show set) is our bass player Jeff (“Chas”) Gilbert. My other best friend, I haven’t talked to him since college days, even after we managed to track him down. He was a true natural born musician and my spiritual brother, whose parents -unbeknownst to me at the time – asked mine to be his god-parents.
Thinking back on that show, I’m amazed that not only did we do the full-length “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” even managing to get all our parents up clapping at the end, but we came back in the second half for the equally elaborate “49 Bye Byes,” backed up by the school’s resident super-group, consisting of Mike Gasper (the first guy to figure out and master wrist vibrato), Brian Torff (who would go on to carve out an incredible jazz bass career including a long duo stint with George Shearing), and drummer Tom Otto. They had just finished an epic “All Along the Watchtower.”
Here’s a better picture of our group, captured in a pencil caricature (xerox saved by my mom):
The drummer was Pete somebody from a different school, in the band for about a month and one memorable gig, where I used some generic guitar I had covered with white rabbit fur (pictured). The drummer was quickly replaced by my old Methodist Church friend Steve Barnes, who a decade later would hire me for what became my aerospace career.
As you can imagine, we took our rock very seriously. For our junior year – I think it was a daytime pep rally – we played a full-bore rendition of King Crimson’s “20th Century Schizoid Man.” My poor choir teacher’s ears were bleeding.
Senior year’s final variety show found me in a rather stunning shiny paisley shirt doing a Steve Howe “Mood for a Day” solo (which I recently resurrected for harp guitar).
Of course, we found equal time for comedy. The same show included a spur-of-the-moment “Siamese twin” act with Curt Hutchison, as we shared one guitar and three-legged overalls hurriedly made by my mom.
Curt (a year behind us) would go on to become a popular “improvisational pianist” and had several great years playing house parties for Santa Fe and Aspen celebrities like Jack Nicholson, Kurt & Goldie, you-name-it. He also jammed with many of our old musical heroes, including Michael Hedges, whom he has many fond memories of.
Fond memories, indeed.
And still making more!