Flash Bands

In 1972 our family moved once again about 1200 miles across the nation to a new state and town. It was my first year in high school there so I signed up for band class. I was accepted into the class not because I had prior training on any standard band instrument like trumpet, trombone, clarinet, sax, etc., but because I played the banjo. The band teacher was a very cool fellow who knew how to instill confidence in students to try new things in a flash. Within weeks of arriving for our first class, he had talked seven of us into forming a dixieland band, decked us out in vests, ties, straw hats, and armbands, and after a few sight reading practice sessions, we began performing at various venues around town.

With Clemmens on sax, Pilfer on trumpet, Ottenson on tuba, Wallace on drums, and Cattenaci and Pottenger on clarinet, I was shocked at how good we sounded in such a short amount of time. They were all accomplished musicians and I actually had trouble keeping up with the new tune sets our band teacher kept giving us to play.


Winter set in and snows kept me from doing much extracurricularly speaking but when springtime arrived, our band teacher urged some of us to perform in the school's talent show. I had recently seen The Earl Scruggs Revue perform on television and had learned to pick a few tunes they had played in their set. So I asked Nan Ament and Herbie Wallace about getting together to play them in the talent show. They agreed and we had a lot of fun practicing for and performing in the show.

We played Cripple Creek, Some of Shelly's Blues and Foggy Mountain Breakdown and the audience seemed to enjoy our three piece renditions.


This flash band formation thing happened one more time while I was in high school in Tehran when our choir teacher talked some of us into forming a band to perform at the Iranian National University. Four of us got together, practiced a few times then performed Peace Train and Horse With No Name on stage which was beamed out over Iranian national television.