Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Under Saxed Band

I hope that some of my friends from this band find this post. At some point in my Senior year of high school I began to realize that there were musical outlets in my school, Atholton High. I got into the choir. I had a few years of theory under my belt and I really liked the harmonies. I seemed to excel as a tenor. It felt really good to belong to something and do well in it. I remember the Madrigal group. I was mesmerized by them and really wanted to be in the group but you had to be at least a second year choir member. I remember we did a music version of Robert Frost's, "The Road Less Taken". I still can remember my part and sing the tune to my kids; sometimes I play it in my acoustic set when no one's paying attention. I had a pretty deep crush on Juliet R. Nace (alto I think) too (sheepish grin). She was in the choir as well as the Madrigal group. I think I was taken by her vocal skill. I hope she still sings as God's gifts should never be hidden and she was truly gifted. I also remember Sharon Yoder. She was a soparano with the voice of an angel. I can still see and hear her in my minds eye and ear. I hope she's still playing too.

I took a guitar class as well. It was there that I found out that I was actually pretty good on the instrument. The best player in the school was Gus Strats (I was always jealous of that last name). I had found a classical nylon sting guitar in a trash dumpster (I still have it!) and used it in this class. The school provided instruments but it felt pretty cool to be able to bring a guitar to school. I was pretty shy and introverted back then. I still am in ways. I just felt like I belonged a little more when I was carrying my guitar.

There was a talent show coming up at the end of the year. I remember there was a guy named Shawn (he always wore a trenchcoat and was in theater) and an Asian guy and a handful of others who were deeply into the Blues Brother's "Briefcase Full Of Blues". They wanted to put a group together for the talent show. I was probably not their first choice but I bet Gus was already booked. As I remember it he had a prety cool band that played Rush and other great progressive music. They used to play at parties.

I was asked and I said yes. I had never played in a real band before and was completely nervous. I remember we had a handful of practices and I tried to join in on some harmonies etc. It was probably just me but I remember being a little left out. The group was a clique of friends and I was "the guitar player". Still we had a good time. I think we even tried to play a party or two to get ready for the talent show. I was a huge fan of the blues and was really happy to be playing it. That's still a favorite alum of mine. the music is timeless. I still play, "Hopeless" in my solo acoustic shows which I attribute to that album. I think I hack the Bonnie Raitt version though. I also still play "B Movie Box Car Blues". I've always been a fan of a great syncopated lick and dig the line, "... when she did what she did when she did what she did to me, made me think of you". I don't think we played either of these in our three song set in the talent show. Oh, I almost forgot. The band was called the Undersaxed band because, as those familiar with the Blues Brothers know, they had a killer horn section, "The LA Express". (Remember the band was led by Paul Schaefer of later Late Night With David Letterman fame). We couldn't find any sax players. I think we had a trumpeter though.

I played with the group for the talent show and I also played a solo acoustic version of Pink Floyd's little tune from The Wall that comes just before, "Bring the Boys Back Home". That album totally resonated with me in light of losing my Dad. In fact, my entire Senior year math class was spent not paying attention to the teacher but reciting every word from that album in my notebook. I wish I still had that book. It was kinda cool looking back at it.

As I remember it the Under Saxed Band came in second to Gus' band. I don't remember if I placed with my solo tune but it didn't matter. I had played my first gig in front of a large audience and had become a part of something bigger. Luckily in the audience that night were some people that would become dear friends and band members.

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