T. W. Pyle Junior High School Band

1976-1979, Bethesda, Maryland

When I was in 3rd grade, my parents informed me that I was going to take up a musical instrument. I asked to play drums but was encouraged to try something quieter. I took up the trumpet. I took private lessons at a local music studio from a glum youngish man named Mr. Brimmer. I remember having to fill out a little orange practice log book.

In about 6th grade I switched to instruction from a much more jovial guy whose name I’ve completely forgotten. The jolly fellow came to our house. He actually played the euphonium, not the trumpet, and he’d often accompany my playing with oom-pah bass parts. He indulged my love of Monty Python by getting me music for Sousa’s Liberty Bell March. The only other thing I remember about him was that for some reason he gave me a photocopy of a pidgin English translation of Little Red Riding Hood called “Lik Lik Retpela Hat.”

I slayed the mothers in the audience at the 5th and 6th grade talent shows with solo trumpet renditions of “Speak Softly Love” (Nino Rota’s love theme from The Godfather) and Barry Manilow’s hit “Mandy.” But in truth, I was not a very good trumpet player. I practiced indifferently and would blast as loudly as possible in frustration when a passage gave me trouble.

When I got to junior high in 1976, I was able to join the school band. This is particularly momentous for readers of this blog, because it’s the first band I was ever in.

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Atlantis

Spring 1978 until Spring 1980, Bethesda, Maryland

Personnel

Stephen Lewis – electric guitar, vocals
John Wilson – electric guitar
Ron Benbassat – drums
Mark Lerner – bass, vocals

We briefly added:

Matthew Laur – keyboards
Two girls I can’t recall – vocals

After a year or so, we added:

Dana Hinton – electric guitar
KC Kolvereid – vocals

Folks, this is where I will no doubt lose a few readers. The last post saw me playing catchy odd pop on national TV. Now we’ve got my first band as a bassist, formed when I was 14 and was just learning to play.

Some folks out there may have been cool when they were 14. They may have been talented instrumentalists and singers. They may have had good taste. Not me.

I had: Atlantis.

Atlantis

From left: John Wilson, Ron Benbassat, Mark Lerner, Stephen Lewis, Dana Hinton.

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Walt Whitman High School Stage Band

1979 to 1982, Bethesda, Maryland

Every band means: Every. Band. So let’s go back to 1979.

I had been playing bass for about 2 years when I got to high school. Since third grade, I’d played trumpet in the school band, but when I entered high school in tenth grade, I gave up the trumpet. We returned it to the place we’d rented it from for seven years.

The jazz band at our school, or stage band, as it was called, was a class. I think it was pretty early in the day, like 2nd period. I remember eating my bag lunch in the class and then buying another lunch at lunchtime nearly every day.

A piano player named Sam Jannotta and I were allowed in as tenth graders, and for that first year we stuck to each other closely, since everyone else was older and seemed better than us. There was another piano player and two other bass players, so we’d both get the last choice of songs to play on.

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