This morning we board a bus that will follow the Trail of the Lonesome Pine up to Richlands, VA, for a Concert in the Community led by Cornelia Laemmli. It is a special day that features a lot of togetherness with fellow players, a beautiful spread of food by the folks at Southwest Virginia Community College, and a legendary fan in the audience who, without fail, will shout “YYEEAAAAAHHH!!!” after every number. It’s been happening for years now and it’s just the most charming thing!! There are soloists that come down from New York, Camerata Virtuosi, including one of the finest Russian soprani I have ever heard, Stefka Evstatieva. The focus of these concerts is on a different nation’s music every year; this year, it’s France, from whence originates another piece I have never played, Franck’s Symphonic Variations. You truly learn something every day. Like that I should sail a little closer to the wind when proofreading my blog.
Yikes!! I just caught my error in the last post. I don’t usually write things in duplicate. But then, my brother and sister just celebrated their 56th birthdays on the 14th, so it’s no wonder that I’m seeing double. My brother Mike is a trombonist, plays in some salsa bands in the Hartford area from whence we come. It is to him that I owe the privilege of being a fan of Chicago and Blood, Sweat and Tears. Imagine my delight then when in the course of musical events here in Knoxville I have gotten to play in the KSO with David Clayton Thomas and BS&T (spring of ‘95?) and Peter Cetera, a major force in Chicago (May 15, 2009). And for the record, yes, I do have a signed copy of the Chicago Transit Authority LP, that band’s first album dating from 1969.
My sister Martha (the youngest of three sisters) lives in W. Brookfield, MA, a picturesque New England village just west of Worcester on Route 9. She plays flute and handbells at her church. She and I and my wife, Helen played at my niece Crystal’s wedding last summer in Connecticut. Growing up though, she played clarinet. As an 8- or 9-year-old I marveled at the intricate metal riggings of the clarinet in its case but dared not try to figure it out. I was strictly a strings and percussion kid. I remember having a mangy old one-string guitar, sitting in our attic smacking it with a yardstick. That translated into the cello when it came time to choose an instrument– or have an instrument choose me– from the elementary school offerings.
I also had the coolest drum set; coffee cans with lids for drums, including one filled with Scrabble tiles as a snare, and a couple refrigerator racks with wire coat-hangers on them for cymbals. I was the next Ginger Baker, according to my sister Susie. She’s the oldest of us, and got caught up in the big rock-and-roll revolution of the late 50's and early 60's. I still have some of her old 45's.(Shhh! don't tell her). One of these bands, The Drifters, had a lead singer named Ben E. King. Some of you may remember us doing a pops show with him earlier in the 2000's. I remember him as being very personable and just a joy to work with.
My sister Jean is a bassoonist in the Portland, Maine area. She is bound to run into KSO second bassoonist Wren Saunders, who also lives there. It fell to Jean to be the one to turn me on to Stravinsky, Frank Zappa, Joni Mitchell and the Beatles. It was a real thrill then to have played with Tom Scott, Joni Mitchell’s reed man, when he conducted and played on the KSO pops concert featuring “the singing cop,” Daniel Rodriguez, back in September of ‘02. And for the record, yes, I do have a signed (by Tom Scott) copy of Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark LP.