Arcata Eye Scene

A-town art, music, theatre. Mostly music. Updated Wednesdays.

Ross Rowley: Set up & Tear Down – June 10, 2008

For every Mo Purify, the recently drafted University of Nebraska football player into the NFL from Eureka, there is also a Sara Bareilles, pop star from Eureka. For every Rey Maualuga, football star for the University of Southern California Trojans, there is a Ryan MacEvoy-McCullough, concert pianist who has performed at Carnegie Hall and on prestigious European stages.  And, for every Hillary Will, national drag racer in the NHRA circuit or Mike Pigg, former World Tri-Athlete champion, there is a Chris Hesse, drummer for the million selling rock band Hoobastank, or Mike Patton, former lead singer with Faith No More. Who, according to Wikipedia, “are often hailed as one of the most influential rock bands of all time.” (I guess, if it’s on Wikipedia, perhaps they could have written that entry themselves.)

I’d like to say, the comparisons go on and on. But, local school students who make it into what our society considers the “big-time” in any of their chosen fields is few.  Dane, Lee and Garth Iorg from Blue Lake hit the big-time in professional baseball. Chris Johnson, professional golfer from Arcata, hit the big-time.

Also Lloyd Bridges, the famous film actor who in recent years can be remembered as the air traffic controller in the movie Airplane who emotes one of the funniest film lines of the 1980s, “…looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.” Yep, he too hit the big-time after graduating from Eureka High in 1931.

Since this is a column about the music scene, I guess the reasons I make these comparisons is to show my appreciation for the hard work of music students.  We all know from our own high school and college experiences that athletes get much more praise and features in the press than music students. It’s been going on so long it’s really no longer an issue worth fighting for. Just look at the attendance at a high school music concert and then look at the attendance of a high school football game.  It’s just where our society is at in terms of popular school functions.

While athletes do work very hard to hone their skills on the field and courts, the band geeks are right up with them.  Bands and orchestras are very much a team ensemble not unlike team sports. Both instill discipline, apply drills to improve ability, and goals are set for individual achievement. Both relay on focus, practice and dedication to succeed.

As is the case with Mo Purify when watching him on game videos during his time at Eureka High, God-given talent took him to incredible heights in football. The same can be said for Mike Patton and his high school music pals in Mr. Bungle. Is there game film available of these talented musicians in their formative years? Why, yes! Go online to MySpaceTV Videos and search for “Mr. Bungle.”  In the listing, there is an old video of them playing at a 1985 Eureka High Talent Show.  If you’ve followed these individuals and their musical achievements, their body of work is quite impressive. That talent show was a precursor to the incredible heights they reached in music.  It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But then, football isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Secretly, I wish music students received the same media coverage as their peers who excel in athletics. But, it’s just the way it is.

I’m not knocking team sports in any way. I played baseball from the time I was seven until the age of 16. Through practice, focus and dedication, I became pretty proficient at the sport.  Though, in my junior year, I had joined my first rock & roll band and decided to give up playing high school baseball.

My coach, who was the art teacher and had spent time in the minor leagues with the New York Mets, caught up with me in the hallway asking why I didn’t go out for varsity baseball. I told him I wanted to concentrate on playing music. He said that was a good choice for me to make and that I would probably continue playing music after high school, but probably not continue playing baseball.  He was right. Then, he had the audacity to tell me that I would have been the starting third baseman that year. I just took it in stride knowing I had made the right decision.

At the end of that baseball season, Hoopa High won the North Coast Section division championship.  I still think I made the right decision.

I do have a curiosity, though. Due to budget cuts, did the football coaches at area schools get layoff notices this year? I do know that some area music teachers did. Perhaps, if the band geeks received more media coverage… ah, nevermind.

Ross Rowley is still a band geek – most recently seen on the Plaza with the rest of the Delta Nationals. Folks were dancing.


1 Comment»

  Monica wrote @

I agree whole-heartedly, Ross.

The kids who went and marched in protest of the music department budget cuts were doing the right thing. Music students have higher scores in math assessments, plus all of the advantages that team sports players have… I’m not sure I’ll ever understand how music comes in as a lower priority in the budget.

Band geek at heart (though she gave up the clarinet some time ago)

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