Monday, September 25, 2006

Mirage 1988-91

This is "Mirage," the classic rock band in which I played keyboards and served as leader during 1988-91. This picture was taken early in the band's development, before we headed toward classic rock. I'm the one seated on the right, with my "Freddy Kruger" hat (I never saw the movie, but people told me my hat looked like the one Freddy wore).

I had been out of music professionally for 11 years following my 1973-77 stint in "Inner Light" (see previous post). During a fortuitous vacation to North Carolina's Outer Banks in the summer of 1988, I sat in with "The Wilder Brothers." I thought I would never play again, but lo and behold, my fingers remembered how to play!

Upon my return from vacation that August, I searched the Washington Post classified and found a band that was auditioning keyboard players. I passed the audition.

I remember during the audition the band asked if I could play "Old Time Rock & Roll" by Bob Seeger. I said, "sure, what key?" The bass player, Steve Bray said, "Let's play it in F Sharp." I said to myself, "Whaaaa?" but quickly found the right notes in that weird key and started off the song.

The band was originally going to play pop country, but as the months went on, the band found itself heading toward classic rock instead. This development prompted our leader, Chelsea Gahar, to quit. Thus I found myself not only the keyboard player but also the leader of the band. Since Chelsea had owned the PA and light system, I sold all my AT&T stock (about $5,000 worth), purchased PA and light systems and over the next 3 1/2 years marketed the band to local clubs. We did fairly well, grossing about $50,000 during that time. Mirage enabled me to put my daughter through two years of college.

Our name: We were originally going to call ourselves "Change of Pace," but after we took the picture above, someone noticed the brand name on the prop ("Mirage 1000"), and we all agreed that "Mirage" was a better name for us anyway. At the time the picture was taken, we planned to target the country club/wedding/corporate gig scene, which is very profitable. That's the reason we are pictured in tuxedos, which we almost never wore except for the occasional wedding reception.

Some day I'll write a post about choosing a band name. It's always a hilarious process, usually involving many obscene choices and resulting in much laughter and little progress. When musicians get together, they have a hard time getting serious about anything other than music. Thus after several unsucessful sessions devoted to picking a name, the photo shoot proved to be the source for the name we chose.

We really did play some kick-ass classic rock.

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