I have been in a lot of bands, but most of them have been ridiculous or have ridiculous stories around them.
In 1994 I formed a garage band with James Conlan and some other people. We started out playing a lot of songs from the Oasis Definitely Maybe album. James was always impressed that I could figure out the chords to Live Forever.
During Senior Year in high school, James’ friend Jeff McCombs was obsessed with Nirvana. We learned everything off the Nirvana Live Unplugged in New York Album. For each of our 1995 graduation parties, we performed the Nirvana and Oasis songs, with my friend Scotty Smith on rhythm guitar and Mike Rostar on drums.
In September 1995 I went to college and started to play my acoustic in the stairwell (the acoustics were great in there!). At one point, I saw a poster on the community board for and open mic night in the cafeteria of my dorm (Alice Lloyd hall) hosted by one of the RA’s. After I had played the open mic night a couple times, the open mic organizer discussed his dream of hosting an Alice Lloyd Folk Fest (patterned after the Ann Arbor Folk Fest) and making tee shirts. I got some girls from the next hall over to form a band with me, and we became “Wally and the Beavs” for the purposes of the folk fest. We opened and closed the folk fest with such tunes as “Day Tripper” by the Beatles, and Jewel’s “Who will save your soul.” We also wrote some silly songs about urination (I Have To Pee) as well as a 50s rockabilly song called “At The Malt Shop.”
The summer after my freshman year in college, I went back to Northern Michigan (Charlevoix) and hung out with friends who were still in high school — Allison Beatty and Scotty Smith. Scotty’s older brother Matt was in a jam band at Brown University, and we so formed a garage band June 1996. Scotty was obsessed with Pink Floyd, and he had a lot of fun musical toys around the house. We made several mix tapes. Scotty was the chair for organizing a “Charlepalooza” (Lollapalooza-like festival in Charlevoix) to raise money for their senior trip to DC and needed bands that would be listed on a shirt. My other friend Jeremy Biggerstaff and his blues band (which included another friend Paul Keehn) were the only other headliners for Charlepalooza. All in all, it was a pretty small festival, but it did give me the chance to learn tunes like the Eagles’ Already Gone. The band I was in with the Smith brothers was called Nepali Scotch, because Matt had a theory about band names where you could take a country and a beverage and turn it into a band name.
At some point in college I became friends with Dave Diehl. We made up a lot of dumb songs like a Bob Dylan rip-off tune called “Don’t Close Your Eyes.” I have never been a lyrics person, so sometimes I would just mumble the words like Bob Dylan. Another tactic was to have our guest singers read out of books lying around the house. We actually recorded a song called “we can visualize a sequence by plotting its terms on a number line.”
Senior year in college I was in a pop band with my Orthodox Jewish friend Eric Shafran and his Orthodox Jewish friend Joe. They were in a Jewish a Capella group together. We decided to form a band called ECKO due to the last letters of our first names being E, C, and K. Little did we know that ECKO is also a famous brand of urban clothing. In any case, we actually played several open mics under this moniker. Joe was really into prog rock bands like early Genesis. We mostly played Beatles tunes and several of my originals.
When I moved to Richmond in 1999, there wasn’t as big of an open mic scene here. I went several times to places like Bottom’s Up Pizza and Boulevard Deli, only to find they had replaced their advertised Open Mic listings with Karaoke. I focused more on recording and writing songs. I played around with my Hanimex stereo tape recorder and recorded a demo that I listened to in my car. Long story, but I actually gave one of my demo tapes to the band Luscious Jackson when they came into town in 2000.
In 2001 I got a 4-track recorder. I dreamed of making a music album. I moved to the Fan. In the fall of 2001 I started to make friends through my church group (exile). I learned the song Faintly from a guy at the Men’s retreat. I had to get used to worship song genre, since I was raised to think that church music was best played on the organ. When I started hanging out with Curt Pollack at exile, we realized we were both guitarists who liked Radiohead. After several jam sessions, we talked a lot about forming a band. It was mostly talk. We did come up with many great band names, including “Pelota Smasher Pie.” Curt got married in 2003, which put an end to our rock n roll dreams.
As my original friendship group at exile disbanded to pursue romantic relationships, I formed some other clubs in 2003 including Singing Circle. The theory of Singing Circle was sort of like an open mic night in someone’s living room. Everyone is supposed to brings a song to show and tell, and everyone has to try to sing or play with everyone else’s song. I learned lots of songs from other people, including “I’ll fly away” (I think Rebecca Dunnevant brought that one to Singing Circle.)
In Fall 2004, my Indian friend Nitin decided that he wanted to learn how to play drums, and I decided that I wanted to form an underground band. We met in a church basement, and thus became The Underground Band (UGB). We recruited Kevin Anderson for rhythm guitar and I tried to learn bass. When my friend Elizabeth Anderson decided to go on a missions trip to Tanzania, I decided that I wanted to hold a benefit concert. We got my friend Jeff Michel to recruit his friend to be the opening DJ. Elizabeth recruited her friend Doug Paul’s band to be our opening band and UGB was the headliner. I sold custom tee shirts for the “A’frican Good Cause” concert that we held in May 2005. This was one of those rare concerts where the opening band is better than the headliner. Doug’s band made waves with Coldplay’s “Yellow” while UGB played mostly worship songs. I think I will never forget Nitin singing Let it Rain.
In the summer of 2005, Kevin got engaged and Nitin rekindled an old flame, leaving me without any musical collaborators. In the fall, I bought a really fancy digital 12-track (Boss BR 1200) and helped produce some tracks for my friend Lindsay Brown. She was a great singer. Someday I will post some of those 2005 recordings. Here is one of Lindsay from circa 2010
In 2006 and 2007, I was producing lots of digital tracks. The only one I still have posted online is on the site I put up for my 30th birthday.
I was particularly interested in re-recording old originals as well as making “cool” versions of worship songs.
–> I COULD SING OF YOUR LOVE FOREVER
–> IMMATURE (a song I wrote around the year 2000)
In 2007, I started listening to a lot of rap, specifically Mos Def and Talib Queli. I did a lot of silly things related to my fascination with rap as poetry. I convinced my friend Powell Harrison to “rap” by reciting French poetry over a beat. ( he is on myspace under his rap name, “French Toast”).
This makes me shudder when I listen to it –> https://myspace.com/frenchtoastrap/music/album/bandito-sessions-vol.-i-4297259
I convinced my friends Kat Perkins and Sharon Middleton to record a rap invitation to the exile Christmas party in 2007.
–> EXILE XMAS PARTY RAP INVITATION
I decided to form a rap group with my friend Chris Dudley. His moniker had always been Reverend Funky Love, and so we struggled hard for a rap name for me. We came up with Richy Ritz, because I love Richmond (Richy) and the word Ritz has a rap-bling feel to it. I wrote and performed a rap with Chris at a Game night at Sharon Middleton and Rachael Joyner’s house. Here is the version i later recorded:
–> GAME NIGHT RAPS
Richie Ritz and Rev Funky Luv also performed a rap on the occasion of a the 24th birthday co-party for Jackie Ramirez and Kat Perkins in 2007.
You can imagine my delight when Kat starred as a fly girl at the very end of 2009’s famous “Yo This is Richmond” Rap co-produced by Blaine Lay.
In the fall of 2008, I formed a low-fi band with Kat Perkins and Brie King and Leslie Priddy that was called Mike Scott’s Mom. It was my silliest band to date. We made super low fi and ridiculous recordings. We were soooo bad. We made our own facebook fan page. We recorded a version of Rihanna’s umbrella even though I did not know the song. We thus made up a completely new version with the same lyrics.
We made a Christmas album called Jazzmas, and I think Lindsay Brown even sat in on bass during the Christmas recording sessions even though she had a broken arm.
–> JINGLE BELLS
–> JINGLE BELLS AGAIN
–> LOW FI JOY
By January 2009, I had made friends with Aaron Roth and the Pritchard sisters. We did a version of Singing Circle that morphed into a monthly meeting of our new band — the Park Ave Players! Our Modus Operandi was to record pop songs in an acoustic style, with elements of the ridiculous. We entered RVAjazz’s “Drop The Mic” contest and were selected
This is the track –>
This is what they said about us –>
DC says: This captures the spirit of what this whole project is about. Here is a song being born. Hilarious and awesome!
The artist says: Our Music Circle meets once a month to record harmony-heavy music together, usually improvisational in nature. We like mashups and adaptations of dance club hits. This track is from March 31, 2010. This track was recorded with an Olympus WS-321M handheld digital voice recorder receiving input from an AT2050 condensor mic hooked up to a PV10 soundboard, and converted from WMA to MP3 using Audacity. The entire rig fits in a duffel bag.
The musicians: Mark Schairbaum (guitar and vocals), Becca Hankins (djembe), Kim Forquer (violin), Benji Tull (guitar, percussive chains, and vocals), Aaron Roth, Kerri Pritchard, Robin Pritchard, Tim Reed (vocals and harmony).
Wow! In December 2009, the Pritchards and I decided to write and record a Christmas song that I will never let them forget ( I post it on facebook every Christmas):
–> BRUCE THE SPRUCE
We did a lot of other collaborations including a recording each other original birthday songs. Aaron, our friend DJ EPOC, and I formed an EDM collaborative called MaRVAa.
For Lent 2010, I decided to get my protools Mbox hooked up and record a track a day. I sent daily recordings to Mark Aaron Robin Kerri (M.A.R.K.) that included covers of Jay-Z (Empire State of Mind), Miley Cyrus (Party in the RVA) , Justin Timberlake and Madonna (4 minutes Olympic theme mashup), and several church songs (Finlandia, and The Strife is Oer).
For my birthday 2010, Aaron gave me several websites for my birthday, to include the wordpress-based http://sceneonestudios.com
In 2010 as Aaron was going away, we held a “Drop the Noodle” contest, and Kerri and I recorded an a-capella version of a grammy-winning gem
–> Need You Now
In the Fall of 2010, I started playing more guitar with Corey Humphrey. We formed a band called MarCoco. Again, we played acoustic arrangements of pop tunes. Usually the twist is that we don’t cover the original song exactly, but there is enough vocal harmony and interesting strumming to “sort of” represent the song to the listener.
Also, MarCoco does a lot of ridiculous stuff
–> FACTS OF LIFE THEME SONG
–> KANYE WEST — AMAZING
–> ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS — CHRISTMAS DON’T BE LATE
The latest incarnation of all this silliness is the Mando Bando, where Katie Jensen and I play pop covers on the Mandolin.
WRECKING BALL –>
NIGHT AT THE ROXBURY –>
But of Course I am always up for other people posting singing vids on fb
–> SILENT NIGHT
–> RIDICULOUS ORIGINAL SONG ABOUT CHEDDAR CHEESE
–> AMAZING GRACE
–> SCHAIRBAUMOS SINGING XMAS TUNES