Archive for the ‘Musicians’ Category

In Honor Of Gil Monroe

March 2, 2013

Post from elsewhere by Tim Landers – PLEASE contact Tim Landers, (443) 686-1450, to help with this event in honor of Gil Monroe.


Dear Fellow Entertainers, Musicians and Friends, I am sorry to have to write this but I am attempting to pull off something that is very difficult to do. With the exception of a few people, many of you will be startled and I hope even outraged by what I am about to tell you. As many of you know, one of the truly great mentors in my life is Gil Monroe. I don’t think that I need to go into a long drawn out story of everything Gil has accomplished but for those who need a little history here goes: This man lead one of the most successful orchestras in the country starting in the 1940’s. Johnny Mann was one of his piano players and singers, Hank Levy played Sax for him and he worked with the likes of everyone from Guy Lombardo , The Temptations and Buddy Rich to Stevie Wonder. Gil also ran a music store in the Overlea area where many a young musician was given their first taste of what it was like to truthfully be a professional.

We were taught, nurtured and even promoted by this man. He gave freely of his talent and his own equipment so that we could begin to earn money doing what he and the teachers in his studio had taught us to do and never asked for anything in return (except the equipment back). I am fortunate to be living one of the lives that this man touched and have never forgotten him for it. We kept in touch over the years and had lunch and dinners regularly. At 90 years old he’s still sharp as a tack but sadly through no fault of his own has become the victim of what so many of our senior citizens have been experiencing. I will share the actual details with anyone who would like them but for now let’s just say that Gil has been seriously taken advantage of even abused. He was literally tossed out on the street. I know this to be true because for the last month Gil has been living with me. A nurse punctured his eardrum so he can’t hear that well and he’s not up with the latest technology like computers (which is why I feel safe sharing this on facebook) but otherwise he’s in great shape and is not on a single medication.

Recently Gil moved in with his niece briefly until other arrangements can be made. With the exception of a very meager Social Security and Retirement income (which his ex-wife gets part of) he has nothing except a 1997 Lincoln Town Car. What I am proposing is for everyone who wishes to give back something to this man who gave so much to others, pitch in together and organize an event to celebrate his life and give all of the proceeds to Gil. I have already spoken to a few folks but I need alot of help. We need to have a committee set up to handle this huge undertaking so please don’t volunteer unless you are truthfully willing to do a great deal of work for nothing in return other than feeling a little bit better about yourself.

I am proposing that we get a hall in the Baltimore area and organize a volunteer group of musicians to play. Everyone, whether they are playing or not has to buy a ticket and hopefully almost everything from food to drinks and the hall will be donated or acquired at an extremely low rate. All egos must be set aside as we must keep our eye on the ball so to speak. Gil is a very proud man but I know he would greatly appreciate help now and HE DESERVES IT. One thing I do know about entertainers is they tend to have very big hearts and also take care of their own.

If you are interested in helping out, please respond to me via Facebook or call me at (443) 686-1450. I will also be posting this on Baltimore Bands and would appreciate it if everyone out there would send it to everyone they can. Once I see how much interest there is I will make my decision on how to proceed. Remember, hopefully we are all going to be 90 one day and I don’t know about you but I would like to spend my final years with at least a bit of my dignity left. Thank You And God Bless You, Your Buddy, Timmy


Solidarity Forever… Pending a Viable Alternative

November 26, 2012

When asked why anyone would live in Minnesota, a place that routinely charts temps of -20 in winter and +100 in summer, the answer always includes its rich cultural environment. Historically, the business and community leaders here have been totally in sync, and the result has been a wealth of theater, art and music at all levels. This is why recent news is so disturbing.

As of this writing the musicians of both the Minnesota Orchestra  and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, two world-class ensembles, are living (and not working) under a lockout. Of course, so are the players of the National Hockey League (apparently it spreads like the plague), but while hockey players and owners are squabbling over how to divide up millions of dollars, these accomplished musicians are literally fighting for survival—their personal survival as working musicians, and the survival of artistic integrity they feel would be seriously compromised under the contract being offered them.

I joined the Baltimore union for a gig when I was 17. I dropped it when I quit playing, and I rejoined in 2007 for my jazz funeral band. Obviously, I must see value in representing myself as a union musician and in supporting working musicians in this way. There are a wide range of opinions on unionism and organized labor in general, so I’ll just say this: employers are focused, well-organized and highly motivated to keep wages low. How, without some position of strength in numbers, does an individual wage earner or contractor negotiate for equity? The lockout situation here in Minnesota is sad, but we’re not alone. Arts organizations around the country, including many major orchestras like ours, are in similar turmoil.

So what has sparked all this rumination on unions? I have to hold Sam Towers responsible. He recently uncovered a personal cache of materials that had been hidden away for more than 35 years. It consisted mostly of receipts from Fred Walker, but also included 7 issues of “‘The Baltimore Musician’—Official Journal of the Musicians’ Association of Metropolitan Baltimore, Local No. 40-543 of the American Federation of Musicians” — dated between 1976 and 1978. Almost as much as Joe Vaccarino’s great book, these 6 to 8 page journals provide their own interesting glimpses into Baltimore music.

The issue featured here is the first of the batch, and it’s one of the more interesting. Dated May 1976, it is filled with familiar names from the BaltimoreJam experience and Baltimore music scene. The names include people suspended for nonpayment of dues, reinstated for repaying dues, and a lot of changes to the membership directory by people you will recognize. This issue even has my own address change when I moved  to Minnesota. Roger Pace is listed under his real name of Paesch. There is a formal announcement by Denny Picasso that he is no longer affiliated with Music Men, Inc. (Gary Chalmers’  booking agency … the story behind that announcement must be interesting). I even spotted an address change for my Parkville Elementary School band teacher, Mr. Clarence Ogilvie (I think he played bassoon).

So with thanks to Sam, and a shout out to Jough Loosmore (he’s currently a Director At large of Local 40-543), here are all 8 pages, scanned as PDFs. Click on each individual link to access the full-size PDF of that page.

The Baltimore Musician – May 1976,_page 1

The Baltimore Musician – May 1976, page 2

The Baltimore Musician – May 1976, page 3

The Baltimore Musician – May 1976, page 4

The Baltimore Musician – May 1976, page 5

The Baltimore Musician – May 1976, page 6

The Baltimore Musician – May 1976, page 7

The Baltimore Musician – May 1976, page 8

Challenge Authority …

November 5, 2012


The Lion King

June 17, 2012

This is a nice little video by Sean Gallagher, sent to me by Ned O’Byrne.
It’s about a man whose voice you absolutely have heard.

R.I.P. Ivan Eugene Bowser Jr.

November 28, 2011
Ivan E. Bowser Jr. 1963

Ivan Bowser, from the 1963 Parkville High School yearbook

We learned over the Thanksgiving holiday of the death on Tuesday, November 22, 2011, of Mr. Ivan Bowser . We write here often (and unfortunately) of the passing of our peers in the Baltimore music scene. Sometimes we write of educators, mentors and influences on our shared ability and desire to make music. Ivan Bowser was all of these.

Mr. Bowser (I could never call him Ivan, even as an adult) was a major influence on the entire Parkville contingent of Baltimore musicians of our era. If you don’t believe me, add up the number of trumpet players within a 4 mile radius of Parkville who double on flute (as Mr. Bowser did). It’s a surprising number. I even doubled on flute, and I was a trombone player.

Mr. Bowser was my band teacher, first at Parkville Jr. High, and then all through Parkville High School (1961-64). He was the coolest guy I knew. He was passionate about the school band sounding good, even when it was just a rehearsal and the venue was a smelly cafeteria, and shared his insights on music and other things in small impromptu groups … like improvisational teaching. He held orchestra rehearsals daily, even when the orchestra totaled 6 people, and led by example as a working musician in addition to teaching. Oh, and he also coached the very successful school golf team–just to add to his cool factor.

Random Ivan Bowser memories:
• he knocked Miles Davis as a sloppy trumpet player
• he admired the work of Stan Freeberg and his musical collaborator, Billy May
• he could keep perfect time with his foot while holding a conversation
• he owned the first VW Beetle convertible I ever saw (and which I and a few friends proved could be lifted onto a sidewalk — he was neither impressed nor amused)
• he was very happy that Parkville H.S. did not have a marching band, and shared the band’s reticence when we had to pull one together for the occasional requisite community parade

Thanks to Mr. Bowser I was introduced to Hank Levy, Stan Freberg, Mozart, jazz, the double bass and German bow, the possibility of a brass player doubling on flute, the value of good meter, the value of diverse living. He was the “un-teacher” … teaching not always through instruction, but also by just offering something interesting to pay attention to.

The last time I saw Mr. Bowser was 40 years ago … I ran into him on break at a country club where we were both gigging, with different groups for different audiences. That seemed right somehow. Peace, Mr. Bowser.

Ivan Bowser with the Baltimore Inter High School Orchestra, 1946

Ivan Bowser Jr. (right) representing City College with the Baltimore Inter High School Orchestra, 1946 (from The Baltimore Sun archives, thanks to Donald Barto Sr.)

Mr. Bowser playing flute at the Parkville High School Jazz Night, 1964.

Mr. Bowser playing flute at the Parkville High School Jazz Night, 1964, with a combo from Hank Levy's band. (from the 1964 Parkville High School year book)

R.I.P. Dave Fultz

June 28, 2011

This information received from Rody Barthelmes …


David Fultz passed away on June 21. He played with Second Coming and was a great freind. He was young … only 63 or 64. Many fellow musicians knew Dave. He was a super guy who had much faith thru all of his health issues — always kept a positive attitude.

Dave Fultz (pictured center, with full beard)


R.I.P. Sonny Robbins

May 11, 2011

This just received from Doc on the west coast …


Thought you would want to know.  Sonny Robbins passed on May 10th in San Diego CA after a long illness.

He played with many groups in Baltimore in the 1960’s and was a fixture in the San Diego music scene for years from the 70’s on.

Steve Taylor Memorial, part 2

April 9, 2011

The following just received from Frank Bonarrigo …


Hello Everyone, well it went great, Steve Taylor’s send off.
We all gathered at John and June Pringles Church on Kent Island MD.
John happened to be The Lafayettes original manager now he is in the business of telling people how to have eternal life. Great guy!!
We met at 11:00 Friday mourning [sic], attending were lots of family and friends from all over. The Old Lafayettes that attended were all from Maryland,
including Ben Proctor and wife, Bob Kirshner, Ed Macon, Jamie Hess, Chip Costa and wife and Frank Bonarrigo and wife. Jim Quinn was also there a great supporter of the band back in the day.

We had a wonderful celebration of Steves’ life
with testimonies of his highlights by family and friends.
Then there was a lunch at Harris’ crab house, very Eastern shore event.
We really did have a wonderful time and to realize we have entered a new era of our lives.

—Frank Bonarrigo

Steve Taylor Memorial Service

April 6, 2011

This information received  from Frank Bonarrigo …


Hello Everyone,

WE are going to meet on Friday Morning 4-8-11 at our old friend John Pringle’s church:
New Life Christian Outreach
101 Country Day Road
Chester, MD 21619
Pastor:  John Pringle
The Eastern Shore Of Maryland.

John and his wife June are both graduates of THS. The family will be providing lunch at The Harris Crab House, after the service. (This is just North of the Kent Narrows Bridge) Rt. 18. The dress will be casual. We want to celebrate the Life of Steve Taylor. For those on the Western Shore we are talking about Kent Island. It is just over the Bay Bridge.


Thank you, Frank.

R.I.P. Steve Taylor

April 3, 2011

This just received from Frank Bonarrigo:


Hi everyone,

I just want to let everyone know that Our old friend Steve Taylor passed away this morning at about 9:30. He has been ill with Lung cancer for about a year or so. I can remember so many good times with Steve, he was a big part of my life and I know yours too.

I will be sending more information as I receive it. I want to thank you all for the many cards and very moving letters he got from you all. The family as well as Steve was very touched by them.  Thanks again.

Best Regards,
Frank Bonarrigo


From Frank B., this photo of a Lafayettes get-together in 1990.
That’s Steve in the front, bottom right.
1990 Lafayettes reunion