The trumpet, guitar (twice), harmonica, piano. The list of instruments I’ve tried to learn is fairly typical, but the most interesting is the trumpet. In fifth grade I decided not to play it any more, but chose not to inform my parents.
I’d leave for school in the morning with the trumpet, but stash it in the backyard shed rather than take it to school. Maybe my parents wondered why I never practiced — or maybe they were just grateful that they didn’t have to hear it.
But my greatest musical moment was appearing in the Carle Place High School “Gong Show.” Though I could barely play the guitar, I got up and improvised a folk song. Years of listening to Bob Dylan influenced my style, harmonica frame and all.
The judges made quick work of me. Guitar legend Steve Vai won the competition with his version of the National Anthem, therefore I can claim that we once competed head-to-head in a music contest. What can I say? He was just too good to beat.
Then there was the garage band. My friends needed a singer and for some crazy reason recruited me. We actually appeared in public once at a local bar, where I sang Bob Seger’s “Hollywood Nights,” a couple of Creedence songs, and — I swear to god this is true — “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” in a duet with a girl we knew.
Like most failed musicians and “drooling fanatics” I keep a list of band names, though I can safely say I’ll probably never have a band. Here are the current top ten:
- The Wild Black Morels
- Munchhausen by Proxy
- Approval Process
- Rat Race Choir
- The Pragmatics
- The Husky Section
- The Benjamins
- Road Apples
Lower on the list you’ll find things like The Joel Rifkin Quartet which, admittedly, might not be such a great band name.