Forget the misery of spring allergies and the annoying rap tap, tap of a busy woodpecker. Cast your thoughts on vibrant colors, warm temperatures, birds chirping, the mouth-watering aroma of hamburgers on the grill and lively music drifting over the community. It’s spring, it’s New Town, and it’s a jumping, jamming place! Some of the New Town restaurants showcasing live music this summer are: Paul’s Deli and Neighborhood Restaurant, Center Street Grill, Capriccio’s, Cogan’s, and Corner Pocket. Let me introduce a few of our New Town neighbors who are instrumentalists and performers. These are folks the Town Crier staff knows about. Our idea is to put neighbors in touch with one another to generate possibilities for playing. If you are a musician, contact the Town Crier to be featured in a possible future article. Meanwhile, maybe somebody featured below sounds like a player you would like to reach out to about jamming.
Ask Bob Bryne about his career as a bass guitarist. It was after the tragic death of John Denver that Bob and his wife Susan met Jim Curry who was performing at a local folk concert. Jim sang one of Denver’s songs and he sounded just like John Denver. After the concert Bob and Susan met Jim and suggested that he do a show centered on Denver’s music. Susan added that Bob played bass and was currently free and the rest is history. Bob joined Jim Curry’s band and a John Denver show was created. He played with the band for five years and during that time many members of the original John Denver's band, like Richie Garcia and Chris Nole joined the group for concerts. Bob's favorite concerts were the ones performed in the main showroom of the Las Vegas Silverton Hotel and at the University of Notre Dame (UND). He loves playing Irish music. Bob and Susan's daughter, Kati will be spending a year in Ireland on an UND service project. When in California, Bob plays bass at mass at Sacred Heart church and when in Williamsburg he has helped out the campus ministry program at William and Mary. Jamming? Good idea!
Sarah Carey and piano are synonymous. Beginning piano lessons in elementary school and continuing through college Sarah now plays at home for her personal enjoyment. One of her favorite high school memories is playing piano duo, where two baby grand pianos face one another with Sarah and the second student playing the same piece. Not limiting musical preferences to one genre, Sarah selects her music from many categories. She relishes the challenge of a difficult or more intricate musical composition especially from the classical musicians, such as Mozart and Schubert. Those are just two of the composers found in the classical music books that her son gave her at Christmas. She also is happy to listen to her daughters and son play for her. Sarah definitely passed down her music genes. One daughter played the piano superbly and beautifully through high school and the other daughter is an accomplished violist with a long running passion for the strings. Her son is of virtuoso status on the clarinet and piano and makes time to play with the Greenwich Village Orchestra. Please continue to enjoy making music, Sarah.
“I haven’t played in years!” That was the immediate response from
Bob Dennis when asked to share his musical side of life. His musical side might be a surprise. Bob played bass in ninth grade in Bruce Springsteen’s early band, the Steel Mill. That’s right…The Boss! The band was formed in 1969 and ended in 1971. Bob played with the rock band until Springsteen booked a tour out of the country. You guessed it. Bob was only15 after all and he probably anticipated his mother’s response when he asked if he could go on tour with Springsteen. It was a definite “No.” Bob stayed home but he and some friends were not sidelined. They formed a band, which performed through high school and into college. Some of the band’s work contributed to Springsteen’s debut studio album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. released in 1973. Bob credits Bruce Springsteen with teaching him a lot about music in his teen years. Whenever Steel Mill came back to town Bob and his band often played backup for it. Yep, the beat went on!
Did you know that Chuck Stetler played percussion in high school and college? He grew up in Central Pennsylvania and was a member of his schools’ marching bands, concert bands and jazz bands. He also performed at different events and venues in his hometown and neighboring communities and tells a story about one specific New Year’s Eve affair at which he was playing. He took his date Susan along, who most of you know is Mrs. Stetler, and left her sitting alone on a chair most of the evening while he performed with the band. At one point an unknown young man about Susan’s age approached her and asked, “When are you going to sing?” Chuck will tell you with a chuckle that he wished she had jumped up and said, “Now!” After college, he gave a few lessons and practiced a bit but beginning his career afforded him little time to play. That was the end to Chuck’s life as a musician. Sadly, Chuck’s drum set has gone to the ages but it only takes a box and stick to keep time.
John Marston confirms he loves music, has a wonderful piano and only “sort of plays” on it. His appreciation of music comes naturally “once removed.” John’s mother’s “big sister” in college who was also the Matron of Honor in John’s parents’ wedding was none other than Phyllis Diller of Laugh-In fame. Did you know that she was an accomplished pianist and toured with symphony orchestras? Perhaps a more plausible reason for John’s love of music is that he inherited the genes from his mother who was an excellent music teacher. As a boy John had the opportunity to be in a program sponsored by the renowned NJ Summit School of Music. A highlight of that association for John was his selection as the conductor of the youth orchestra at the elementary level graduation. He was also noticed for his exceptional voice. His paid career as part of a boy’s choir was short but it did expose him to many exciting performances and venues. One of those events was a “brief” concert at Carnegie Hall. Brief because John and some other boys were asked to leave when their paper airplanes took flight over the balcony. Boys will be boys!
The Town Crier’s own Phil Casey plays guitar, mandolin, and the cigar box guitar that his son-in-law, Matt made for him. Phil’s creativity and unique style are apparent as he performs his original songs and covers. He brings the atmosphere and culture of the Tidewater area to his music, adding some pop and rock. Listen on You Tube to his orignials “I Can Be A Panacea” and “Mobs and Kings”, or his cover of “Little Sister.” Phil works as a solo, a duo in Scrapper T Duo, and a trio with Matt in a group called Scrapper Tuesday. He performs regularly in Hampton and Newport News and his New Town gigs have included Cogan’s, Corner Pocket, and Capriccio’s. Many performances this summer will be in North Carolina but don’t despair. He’s booked to play locally at Charly’s Airport Restaurant on May 3rd, the Williamsburg Farmers Market on May 25th and June 22nd, and Craft 31 Restaurant on July 5th. Expect to see his duo return to Corner Pocket also, but no dates yet. Phil makes some sweet music for all to enjoy. Does he like jamming? Of course!