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Celebrating by engaging

by | Mar 1, 2021 | Celebrate, engage, J Geils Band

As I headed west from Tyler, my destination was Dallas where I engaged in the fall of 1976 on my path to become an Electrical Engineer.  One thing about engineering was once you picked which type (EE, ME, IE, etc), your class schedule was mostly set.  To get through it all in 4 years, you had to take 18 hours a semester, and the classes were sequenced so your “planning” was mostly just filling in a few “electives” that were like ‘free spaces’ on the Bingo card.  And being a good student, I ripped into the classes, including an 8 am MWF Statics class – a tough ME class required for all engineering majors… 

… and it was interesting settling into college, surrounded by kids from mostly the Southwest, a few from St. Louis, and even a few from Chicago… and on my floor of 44, I was the only engineering student.  I noticed when I took off for my first class, no one was up.  And as the semester went on, I started to realize that many of them were not really engaged in studying, spending more time on Celebrating being IN college, and less worried about getting out and where that would put them… 

In the year I was born, 1959, John Geils’ family moved to Bedminster, New Jersey – his father worked at nearby Bell Labs.  He would graduate in 1964 having been in Math, Physics, and the Student Council, and also worked on cars and motorcycles with his friends… oh and he dated Meryl Streep… 😉  He was also in the marching band playing trumpet, but started to really enjoy the jazz guitar his father played for him – Charlie Christian, before moving on to T-Bone Walker, and then to BB King.  Here is an interview with him talking about his guitar collection. 

That musical interest pulled him to Boston where he was studying Mechanical Engineering (ME) at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  Also a good student, he had time on his hands, and started a trio to play jazz, which slid into blues with friends we will meet later in the week.  Slowly they built a following that would eventually be called the J Geils Blues Band as they worked around the Boston area in the late 60’s.  It is unclear if he finished his ME degree, but it is very clear that the band he engaged with was a lasting presence around Boston before becoming internationally acclaimed. 

With time on my hands, I was really unclear what I should fill up that time with.  Being barely 17, I got a fake ID of course, but frankly, the type of celebrating most were into was what I avoided in high school.  There was a person on the top floor who seemed a bit odd, but was working at the college radio station, and they were looking for some additional DJ’s.  That sounded fun, and would let me Celebrate and explore more about music.  My first shift provided me with an entire room of records – wall after wall of albums.  This would be amazing… 

… and literally, NO one listened.  Being in a big city, SMU decided to only allow the station to be broadcast through the power lines… ie, if you plugged in, you would get it… and the 60 cycle hum that was only 10 cycles off… But one night I got a call for a request, and for sure knew to be responsive. 

I take requests here also… and had one in the queue for literally 6 months while I wandered through the fall and winter.  There was just not a good fit for the type of music that they played – straight-ahead party music.  One of their albums has one of my favorite titles – “Blow Your Face Out” … indicative of the music you can expect this week.  As we engage the month that marks 1 year of being locked down, my writing every day for that period, and hopefully the end in sight as Spring and vaccines start to emerge… why not Celebrate?  It is not something that we do enough of as leaders, and something I need to be reminded of ….often. 

So – this week we are going to Celebrate with some full-on party music, the J Geils Band as our soundtrack.  The first track was one of their earliest releases, and one I can relate to, along with John Geils and I suspect many of you who are regular readers. Take some time this week to turn these up  (WAY up) and be less of a … Hard Driven Man.

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