I have been blessed with music-loving parents who always challenged their children with stimulating surroundings. An early memory is a collection of records (78-rpm vinyl and earlier) of folk songs and several volumes of orchestral selections oriented to children. One of these was "Tubby the Tuba" and another was "Peter and The Wolf". We listened to folk-singer Oscar Brand on radio when we lived in New York, and I have a memory of an actual studio visit to sit in the audience.
My older sister, Sonia, learned piano from an early age. I did not have the discipline in those years to endure the endless scales and practice tunes, but I enjoyed listening to the sound of the instrument. My father also played piano, with a remarkable style, and loved to sing along. Both parents were also dedicated to theatrical performances, and were members of several community theater groups as my suisters and I grew up. I became interested in theater, also; I was cast in several of the community theater productions while I was in junior high and high school, and was also in Theater in my high school, Harriton in Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania.
In later years, during high school in the late 50’s-early 60’s, I helped my father string audio cables through the house, so we could have a satellite speakers in all our bedrooms from our "Hi-Fi" and we were awakened to either classical selections or Broadway show tunes.
My interests broadened to folk music and jazz during and after high school. I had several friends in high school who were musically gifted, and they would spend many hours after school at our house, jamming on the piano and with their own instruments (bass, drums.) Several of these friends have gone on to successful careers as professional musicians.
During my first marriage, my wife and I enjoyed the contemporary musicians of the day, and delighted in the live music scene in Philadelphia at the time. We lived in Center City, only a couple of blocks southwest of Rittenhouse Square, and weekends would find us at either the Electric Factory or The Trauma - where one of my best friends from junior high had painted the psychedelic signage which made the building stand out on its block. We listened to some amazing groups at these small clubs - the Electric Factory started out in a former Goodyear Tire store, and The Trauma occupied the upstairs of a storefront. Among the groups were The Who, Big Brother & The Holding Company, Buddy Miles, The Chambers Brothers, and many others. One notable group will always stand out in my memory, because we hosted them in our apartment for a weekend. This happened due to their ouster from the hotel where they were staying (for unknown reasons) and our next-door neighbors got picked up while hitch-hiking by their limo. Our neighbors offered to put the group up at their apartment, and several of the band members came to ours because the neighbors had no room for everyone. Thus we were hosts to several members of the Los Angeles band, Clear Light, who made two albums and were featured in the film, The President’s Analyst. Following this hospitality, my wife and I weere treated to visits by the Road Manager for the band after they split up; he had joined a recording production company and was responsible for logistics for various groups oin tour. Every time one of his groups came to Philadelphia, he would send a limo for us and we would be treated to backstage passes to the concerts. Not only that, but on several occasions, we visited with bands in their hotels before the concerts. One unforgettable evening we spent in a room with two members of the legendary band, The Doors. Another occasion we were backstage with Janis Joplin, and she commented on a ring my wife was wearing. My wife was so flattered, she offered the ring to Janis, and received one of hers in return.
When my first wife died and the children and I moved to California, I tried to duplicate the environment my parents had for me. I played different kinds of music when I was working at home, and I made sure my daughter continued her piano lessons. She eventually became not only quite proficient at playing but began composing her own work. Jenna has sice acheived a B.A. degree in Music from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and now teaches in North Carolina.
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