Saturday, February 7, 2009

Muskrat Love

I have a confession. I was a band nerd. Now, I should not have to write it this way. The band kids should have been, and probably really were, the cool kids. The coolest of kids. I was in marching band, orchestra, and jazz band. I was surrounded by music, loyal and devoted friends, and just plain fun.
This was our director, Mr. Moorefield. A talented man capable of making each student in each band during a thirty two year leadership, feel especially mentored and cared about. He led the Foothill High School Marching Band, of Pleasanton, California to win over one thousand sweepstakes awards. During my high school years, we traveled to Pasadena for the Tournament of Roses Parade, made my first trip to Europe, Canada, the Portland Rose Festival, the Reno Jazz festival, Magic Mountain, and annual trips to Disneyland. We learned how to work hard, win graciously, lose with dignity and respect for the winners, and stick together. He is retiring this year, and I plan to be there for the party.

When I joined the marching band at the beginning of my freshman year, I had never been in a band and I did not play a band instrument. I was a piano player, but had seen the band in a parade the year before and wanted very much to be one of the coolest kids in high school. Mr. Moorefield had a solution and I adapted my keyboard skills to mallet instruments. I played one of these.
Then, one of these.And, finally, one of these.

Halfway through my freshman year, the jazz band’s piano player quit and I, who had never played a jazz note in my life, was placed in this position. I was not prepared, but that did not seem to bother Mr. Moorefield. My parents found a jazz piano coach to help me transition from Mozart to Mangione. Mrs. Botello was amazing. She was the band director at the infamous Finocios restaurant and female impersonation club in San Francisco. I remember being impressed when I met her. How could I not be when she had a Steinway grand piano in her living room? In fact, that is all the living room would hold. Mr. Moorefield spent the better part of my first year and a half yelling at me to turn up the Fender Rhodes and the last year telling me to turn the Yamaha Electric Grand down a notch. I likely gained far more confidence than skill, but gained wonderful friends and memories.
There I am, first row, second from the right in the captain’s hat.
Now just in case you are wondering, that is no every day run of the mill captain’s hat. That particular hat is from a mid seventies music show, The Captain and Tenille. You know, Muskrat Love and You Better Shop Around, uh huh, better shop around. My father had won it in a fund raising auction for the music program. I wore it during performances and competitions and winning at poker on the tour bus ride home from the Reno Jazz Festival. I am still a nerd. I still wear hats. I still win at poker.


  1. I LOVE playing poker with you. Ohhh baby.

  2. That was a wonderful blog and great story. My husband plays the piano classically (not professionaly) and I am always begging for jazz and he said he doesn't think he would be any good at it. I will have to show him this blog to encourage him. Since I am currently living in 1955, any jazz/boogie woogie music I can get I love. Nice blog! Oh, I bet you wish you still had those shoes u are wearing ( or maybe you do) they look really 1940's don't they?