Sunday, December 22, 2019

Meet the Band Members

Crandall Schmidt

I’m Crandall, Crandall Schmidt. I’m a basso profundo, not mention fatso profundo. I trained to sing opera, so I was basically useless in a rock band. Fortunately, I didn’t know it at the time. John and I got the idea to start the band, and luckily somebody came up with the solution of letting the piano major, Neil, do the singing. The rest of us were voice majors and were at each other’s throats.

I had started playing trumpet when I was nine, and got pretty good at it. I was first chair trumpet in the Conservatory orchestra until George showed up my Junior year. He had first chair after that. I fucked around on baritone, tuba, French Horn, trombone, even Wagnerian tuba, which is a blast. You put a French Horn mouthpiece on a tuba. Like everyone else, I could play piano, but wasn’t particularly good at it.

Mariette and I started dating our sophomore year in college. I was a virgin, she wasn’t. By the end of the year I was whatever the past tense of virgin is. She’s the only woman I’ve had a long-term relationship with, and I’m quite happy. Mariette has a great sense of humor and doesn’t take shit off anybody. She pitches in on the band wherever things are needed, driving, selling merch at concerts, whatever. I think I fell in love with her the day I first saw her.

I grew up in Cumberland, my best friend was John, who’s also with the band. Cumberland is a pretty conservative place; no matter what the Supreme Court said, schools were still segregated when I went there. I’d have gotten a more cosmopolitan exposure if I’d left home for college, but what I got at the conservatory was plenty. I was Vice President of the fraternity, and in my senior year President. We were the first frat on campus to accept a homosexual member, the first to accept a blind member, and eventually the first to accept a black member. We were at a Conservatory, so everybody in the frat was all about music. Unless we were about booze, drugs and sex. Me, I didn’t do drugs. I refused to smoke marijuana because it would ruin my voice. Cigarettes were fun, just no weed. I hope Mariette will go with the band on tour. This is going to be awesome.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Did You Ever See Allegro? MEET THE BAND MEMBERS

I’m Joe Delaney, the good lookin' hunk in the picture. The guys are putting together a band and want me to play drums. I’d rather sing, but all of us are voice majors, so there’s a lot of competition. I think I’m the best singer in the group, but everybody else thinks he is. They’re all wrong, of course, but there’s nothing I can do about that.

I started playing drums when I was twelve, about ten years ago. I took to it naturally. Here at the Cumberland Conservatory we have a show band, and I’m the percussionist. I also play tympani in the conservatory orchestra and snare in the concert band. Plus a trap set in the jazz band. There are days where I have a hard time remembering I’m supposed to be a singer.

I grew up in Nebraska. The joke is that that’s where men are men and sheep are nervous. Actually, the big advantage of Nebraska is that a huge part of the state is covered in marijuana. In the fifties and sixties everybody smoked cigarettes. As kids we’d be told by teenagers about getting high by smoking marijuana, so we did. Honestly, nobody seemed to mind. The police didn’t give a shit, all of them had grown up smoking weed. When I got to Cumberland, I thought it was weird that you couldn’t go into your backyard and harvest a high. You had to go to a dealer.

I started going to dealers for my weed, and they had other stuff, so I tried that, too. I’m never trying heroin, that stuff will kill you. But I used lots of the other drugs. Probably my favorite was acid, and coke was great, too. A side benefit was that I got lots of snatch with the drugs, in addition to supporting myself by reselling on campus. I liked the Conservatory and my life there. I lived off-campus and usually had a girl staying with me. I gave them drugs; they gave me sex. Symbiosis, as my bio prof would say.

If I can sing and play drums, that’s cool. We’ll just have to see what happens.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Did You Ever See Allegro

The members of the band, Did You Ever See Allegro, are students at the fictional Cumberland Conservatory in Maryland. The city, about 175 miles west of both Baltimore and Washington, DC, is located at a place where Maryland is only a few miles across, between Pennsylvania to the North and West Virginia to the South. It was an important outpost for commerce and transportation through the 1800s, being at the junction of the first railroads. heading West, the old National Road, and the Baltimore and Ohio Canal. It was an important point o the underground railroad before the Civil War.

By 1969, when the band’s tale begins, the area was far from wealthy. Coal mining had lost its appeal, and the rugged terrain didn’t support most types of agriculture. One of the poorest metropolitan areas in the country, nobody knew they were poor because there was nothing else to compare themselves to. The Conservatory attracted music students from the mid-Atlantic states.

There were few opportunities for employment in the area, making a traveling band almost inevitable. The student body was mostly white, but the unnamed fraternity to which most members belonged was integrated. The local chapter had black members as well as LGBT members and one blind brother. This didn’t sit well with all students’ parents, nor even with all members of the fraternity or the band. In fact, one member of the band had been a member of the Junior KKK in Southern Maryland, the area to which John Wilkes Booth had fled after assassinating President Lincoln. He correctly assumed he would be relatively safe there because of sympathy for the Confederacy.

Cumberland was representative of its time – segregated, bigoted, set in its ways. The Conservatory was an island of tolerance in a place and time of intolerance. Integrated couples were barred from hotels, and same-sex couples met with near-universal hostility. Home to about 20,000 people, the city drew few tourists. Like much of America at the time, it was provincial and proud of it.