follow this if you can

I moved to Rochester, NY the day after I graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science in Communications.  I was going to be a radio DJ and move west in two years.

The first radio job I could get was with WXXI, AM 1370, an NPR affiliate in Rochester.  I was interviewed by Bud Lowell and took over the Sunday morning announcing gig that was the 6 AM to noon shift.  Lee Strong trained me for my shift.  He also worked for the Catholic Courier.

I mentioned to Lee that I was a drummer and he told me one of his coworkers at the Courier was trying to start up a band and would have him call me.  This man was named Rob Cullivan.  Rob was a songwriter, singer and harmonica player.  He was trying to form a band and was interested to see if he could do it without a guitar player.

I enlisted my younger brother, Jeff, as the bass player and was introduced to Andy T. on keyboards and Paul Hansen who played percussion.  Paul knew Rob through some sort of Brockport connection.  The band was called the Moonmen.

When my first lease ran out on my apartment, Paul invited me to move to the house he shared with three other people.  At that point, I was not only doing the Sunday morning shift at WXXI, I was also producing two talk shows: Bob Smith’s “1370 connection” and Susan Harf’s “Real Life with Susan Harf.”  I was also working a sales job for a buyers club and making very little money.

My brother used to come up on Monday night to practice with the band, spend the night, spend the day Tuesday, then practice Tuesday night and drive back to Ithaca since he was attending Cornell at the time.  On one of the days he was staying with me he found a list of job openings that one of my housemates had printed out and left on the table.  One of the openings was an operations position at Ambrosia Software.  I interviewed and got the job.

I met David “Cajun” at Ambrosia Software.  He was in charge of customer support or something like that and had a basset hound named Rufus.  He also hosted a show at WITR called Rochester Sessions.  Rochester Sessions hosted local bands and had them play for an hour on Tuesday nights live in the studio, no audience, just them and the host.  Cajun wanted to learn to run the board and not host, since he knew I had a radio background and was in a band, he invited me to host.  I took over hosting duties for the next two years and he, with the help of Ed Trefsger, took over engineering duties.

One night we had Bob Prong and his Salt of the Earth band.  This band was a four piece including Bob on vocals and guitar, Tom Chamberlain on vocals and guitar, Chris Clinton on bass and vocals and John “Frenchy” French on drums.  They came in to the studio and insisted on playing with the lights off to set the mood.  Frenchy played on Bob’s electronic drum kit.  I was not impressed and found them pretentious.

My brother was no longer playing in the band I was in and we had moved on from a group called the Moonmen to be called the Druthers.  We had a new bass player, Kip, and a new keyboard player/singer, Don Anonymous.  Rob Cullivan, Paul Hansen and I remained in the band.

A few months later, I happened upon a show at the Blue Sunday coffee house.  I do not recall the name of the band but it was two guys, bass and acoustic guitar and I recognized a few of the songs.  We were sitting at the bar when they came up and told me I looked familiar.  I told them they were on my radio show once and they introduced themselves as Chris Clinton and Tom Chamberlain.  They were still playing and needed a drummer.  I had a practice space, we arranged a practice session and Ned Pepper was born.

At one time, the druthers and ned pepper shared a practice space but that is not the point of this discussion.  One night, the guys in Ned Pepper were trying to convince one of our friends, Dawn Botting, to be a bit of a manager and book shows for us.  That conversation didn’t really turn out with her doing that but she had brought with her two other friends, Daisy Hutchinson and Lisa DeJohn, who hung out with us while we were making our sales pitch.

A number of months later I was at a show at Water Street Music Hall and happened to see Dawn with someone else.  I was introduced once again to Lisa DeJohn.  A year and a few months later we were engaged.  Four months after that we were married.

So, Rochester, WXXI, Lee Strong, Rob Cullivan, Paul Hansen, Ambrosia Software, Cajun, WITR, Tom and Chris, and Dawn, led to Lisa.  It was quite a journey.  I left a lot out but still got to the happy ending.  Well, perhaps to the “to be continued” part.


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