Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

R.I.P. Bill Holland

December 17, 2018

BillHolland_03

Bill’s name isn’t the most familiar among Baltimore musicians, but throughout his days at Parkville High School he was the tenor sax player in The Poker Chips, a band of teenagers that set a standard as young professionals.

We just learned of Bill’s death which occurred this past August following a bout with cancer. He leaves behind his son, Andres, whose place in Bill’s life was a story in itself. Bill and Andres attended the last Jam in 2012 … it was great to see them.

We didn’t like saying we were “old friends,” lest the “old” be applied to our age rather than the length of our friendship, so we referred to each other as our “friendship of long duration.” Goodbye old friend.

BillHolland_01

Advertisements

Jay Stermer Killed by Drunk Driver

December 27, 2017

Jay Stermer, founding member and keyboardist/arranger for the Admirals, was killed by a drunk driver while walking his dogs just after midnight on Saturday, December 23, 2017. He was killed when a rear-ended car was flung into him. Jay was 74 years old.

Jay_Stermer_2008

Jay Stermer, a Wellington High School parent who plays music and sound effects during Wolverine baseball games, is seen in 2008. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

Palm Beach Post news story.

To the best of my knowledge there was not another musician out of the Baltimore band scene of the 1960s who was more well known and more respected than Jay Stermer.

I never knew Jay personally, but I knew who he was from the time I was in Jr. High School. I can only speak to his reputation — I’ll leave it to those who knew him to comment — but that reputation was one of a driving musical force behind arguably the most successful and popular band to come out of that era of Baltimore music.

For me, personally … when I was about 12 years old I saw the Admirals at their regular Sunday gig at Beaver Springs. They were up in the loft of the pavilion playing music everyone wanted to hear, in the way everyone wanted to hear it, and having a lot of fun doing it. My desire to “play in a band” came straight from the Admirals that day.

It’s all the more sad to lose Jay in this tragic way.

admirals_03

R.I.P. Vernon Ruppert

September 18, 2016

Vernon Ruppert passed away September 9 at his h0me in California. Vern was a musician, band leader, and impresario of Baltimore music in the early 1960’s. Attached is his obituary.

[thanks to Vern’s son-in-law, Darryl Roberts]

vernobit

R.I.P. Tommy Thompson

June 28, 2016

Tommy Thompson died this morning, June 28. I saw the announcement posted on Facebook by his kids .

TT_PenLucy

Tommy Thompson with Pen Lucy, circa 1970

My memories of Tommy  are mostly from the mid-‘60s. He played with The Elegants and I knew a couple guys in that band. I used to see them at Hollywood Park, and alternate with them there with the Majestics. The Tommy I knew back then was a sharp and talented musician who was always a significant contributor to any band he was in. Like Tommy, I always saw myself as a multi-instrumentalist, and he shared some of his knowledge with me on both bass and drums. These weren’t lessons … just little things, discussed on the bandstand at Hollywood Park between sets, but they are things I still remember that helped move me forward with what I wanted to do.

TT_elegants

Tommy Thompson on bass with The Elegants, circa 1965

Fast forward 40 years and Tommy jumped into the Ray Charles Tribute band on tenor sax for Jam 3 at Bobby B’s Palace. I didn’t get to talk to him much that day, but I saw him help organize the sax section on the spot, with courtesy and camaraderie, for that spontaneous performance.

TT_J305

Tommy Thompson on tenor sax with the J308 Ray Charles Tribute Band, June 19, 2005.

Three years later Tommy signed on to play bass with the big band for Jam 4, also at Bobby B’s, and I got to talk with him a little bit more. That was a great band, and Tommy’s bass playing with Dave Tucker on drums was solid as a rock.

TT_J408

Tommy Thompson playing bass with the J408 Big Band, October 4, 2008

In 2012 the last Jam at Padonia Station also featured a big band, with multiple vocalists doing all custom arrangements, and once again Tommy nailed the bass. These were performances for all fun and no pay .. just for the love of the music and the fellow musicians who played it. They were also spontaneous … zero rehearsal … not an easy gig. At that last Jam I got to talk to Tommy a little more, and I also got to meet his wife. As his friend on Facebook I felt his deep pain when she died.

As a musician, Tommy was a true professional … something to be held in very high regard. My knowledge of Tommy as a person is limited, but I can say in every small instance that I knew him he was gracious and smart. I didn’t get to see Tommy very often over the years, but I will sure miss knowing he’s out there.

R.I.P. Phil McCusker

February 28, 2016

[from Tim McCusker]

My brother, Phil McCusker, passed away last week in Silver Spring, MD. Phil worked in The Admirals, 1968-69, then went into the Army for 3 years. On his return to the Baltimore area he played with Rody Barthemes, Mike Jones, Hiram Bullock, and many others. He went to the University of Miami where he studied bass with Jaco Pastorius and earned a degree in guitar and composition.

In Washington, DC, Phil played and wrote for Tim Eyermann & East Coast Offering and later was a leader for Gene Donati Orchestras.

Phil fought a battle against ALS which finally took his life on February 17, 2016.

[NOTE: Phil participated in BaltimoreJam J512 with the “Freelancers” led by Rody Barthelmes.]

McCusker

R. I. P. Ray Quigley

November 9, 2014

(From Walt Kraus on Facebook)
Ray Quigley, who was Jim Hughes partner in the Charmed Times magazine, passed away yesterday. [11/8/2014] Our condolences to his family.. He will be buried next Saturday in Essex, MD, there will be at viewing at the Candlelight funeral home, 1835 Frederick Road, on Friday, Nov 14, from 3-5 pm.

In Honor of Ivan

October 16, 2014

It was almost 3 years ago that we learned of the death of Ivan Bowser, Band Director at Parkville High School from 1954-1972, and at Loch Raven High after that. With the 50th reunion of the Class of 1964 coming around, a few of Mr. Bowser’s students from that class got to talking about how much of an influence and inspiration he was, to them and many others. As a result and with the blessing of current principal, Matt Ames, and Ivan’s family, these former students designed a wall plaque to honor Ivan and his many contributions. Last week it was installed by Ivan’s son, Gregg, on the wall of the “new” music wing — there was no music wing in 1964; Ivan’s office was a large closet and the band rehearsed in the cafeteria.

It was a great moment to see the plaque go up. Ivan was the band director when the high school was founded, 1953-54 in what is now the middle school, and the first band director at the high school’s new building and present location on Putty Hill Ave. Mr. Bowser was a dedicated teacher and fine musician, with high standards for performance and a lack of tolerance for lack of effort. As a Parkville graduate myself and one of those many students he influenced, it is an honor to pay tribute to Ivan Bowser.

Zappa Perspective

August 30, 2012

I’m a Frank Zappa guy … have been since “Freak Out” in 1966, the Mothers of Invention’s debut album. Finding out he was born in Baltimore was just a bonus, and I love that the city has given him a bronze bust on public display. I’m interested in the first part of this video where he talks about the music industry. It’s been said before and by others, but I love Frank’s way of nailing things, and I think it’s something we can all relate to.

It’s On!

April 1, 2012

Club Venus Memories

June 9, 2011

Mark Mihalos has provided us with a wonderful video tribute to her late father George’s nightclub, Club Venus. Opened in May 1966 in the Perring Plaza Shopping Center by owner George Mihalos and  his partner, Michael Athas, Club Venus presented some of the top entertainment of the day — from Rodney Dangerfield to Marvin Gaye, from Totie Fields to Ricky Nelson.

The video was beautifully produced by Mark’s friend (name to follow). It opens with an ariel shot of the entire Club Venus staff on the parking lot, and in a slide show of stills presents photos, autographs, and ads from the club’s line up. The soundtrack tracks the talent, using the music of the acts being presented.

It’s on YouTube, but in the opinion of YouTube’s servers the soundtrack violates copyright law – so it automatically stripped it out. I think it’s fair use … but they didn’t ask me. We’ve made it available as a downloadable file in three standard formats from the Club Venus page at BaltimoreJam.org. We thought it was important to make it available because it’s a great tribute to a great club and a significant Baltimore club owner, and on our site there’s no question that it’s not being used for profit. Many thanks to George’s daughter, Mark. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I did.

Club Venus Memories