Where It Gets You
While doing interviews with the folks quoted in various places in Garage I asked the question, “What did you gain from being in a band?”. I was always surprised at the responses and it caused me to look a bit more deeply at what I carried away from the band experience. There are as many reasons for being in a band as there are people who were in a band. This also seems to be the case with what was gained by the various band members. Someone once told me that if anyone said the only reason for being in a band was that they liked music, they were not telling you the whole truth. So it goes with what was gained from playing in a dance combo—it wasn’t just the money and attracting members of the opposite sex. What follows are some of the responses to my question.
Russ Musilek: I know how to work with people. I know how to work hard with people. I know how to focus on a team goal—on a goal where we’re all wanting to do the same thing. I know how to even set that goal. I know when to shut up in the sense—I don’t shut up very often—when some else is leading and doing an okay job I understand that. I know what it is to have a good job done. I learned what a good job of leadership looks like. When somebody else other than me is leading, but doing a capable and good job, I don’t really have any problem following. I learned those kind of things—the interaction between people.
   I learned to watch for the power struggles. I learned to find out as soon as possible where they were going to be. (I learned) to make peace. Generally I would say I’m a pretty peaceful guy to play with as far as temper tantrums, control and artistic crap like that. I try to be anyway. It’s not important for me to be in charge. It’s important for me to help and do good. I learned quality and how to pursue it.
   On the other hand when the boss, like in my other bands, demanded to be the boss–demanded to have the final say, but wasn’t as good as a musician as anyone else in the band–I can’t stay under that very long. I learned where my limitations were there.
   I paid a lot of dues. I learned how to play guitar. I learned how to make music—not just to play guitar. In the Suntimers and Liberty we were five soloists. I know how to play with other players these days. I know how to listen. I know how to take apart an arrangement and put it back together. I’ve learned the craft part of making music. I’ve also learned the philosophical end of what making music is about. (Adapts a very English tone) Which I think has truly expanded my self as a creative being and a human. And made my humanness as being more realized than it would have been otherwise. I do actually believe that I just can’t say it with a straight face.
Keith Berg: I would say it made me more comfortable performing. Performing, leading, leadership things and I think those things have served me very well. You don’t see very much leadership in this job I have right here, except I lead people in ways to make money.
   I was in supervision at John Deere. I had a lot of leadership there. Over the years I was an overseas rep. I had to do performances when I went overseas. It was really a performance I was doing for these people. Trying to make them feel better about their problems and sell them on the things we were doing–the new tractors we were bringing out. I learned how to do that type of thing. I gave a lot of talks at employee meetings for the factory, because I had a unique job with the overseas stuff. So I performed in front of them. Came down here and had a lot of leadership in the community development stuff at first when I was in Boone. I think a lot of the skills came easy to me to build on top of my playing experience. You got up in front of all those people. You made mistakes in front of all those people. You did good in front of them sometimes. (laughs) You had to live with it all and keep on moving. I think it was a really good experience.
David Sternquist: I’ve always viewed. . . the music thing to me is a different world when I’m doing music. It’s almost like an escape in a way although it sounds cliche I guess. It’s a different thing than what I’m doing job wise. So it’s kind of like–as with any one who is artistic–I feel like I’m actually creating something of my own as opposed to your every day run of the mill type of thing. That’s the way I feel about it.
   Every job is different. When I play solos and stuff like that it’s not always the same solo. It can be, but usually I improvise and expand out to see what other things are going on musically. See how far I can stretch my imagination. How far I can expand my mind that way. It’s neat! Sometimes I get frustrated with myself. (laughter)
Al Harris: It opened doors, it led you into places where you could meet people—not just (girls). It led you into different situations where you could meet people in businesses. I think people respected you. I went from being rejected to being accepted. I think that’s something music does for you. It’s an easy way to say hello to somebody and they can relate—and it is fun. The feeling of playing with guys when things are jelling, there’s not a feeling like it. It’s really a fun feeling and then you work, work, work! If you don’t get it done, you work harder.