“EdFest” is a misnomer.
I readily admit and happily take credit for clicking the first domino that resulted in the annual musical celebration that bears my name at Luzerne County Community College, but that’s the extent of my involvement. The success, and if you were at Thursday’s performance you know how successful it is, is due primarily to one of my colleagues and a whole host of students. And the student part is as it should be.
This all began nine years ago when I got to know a few dozen Music Recording Technology students in my Intro to Mass Communications class. MRT is not only an enormously popular major at the college but also a tremendous career path for kids interested in music. Once this program was launched, the kids who spent their high school years playing in a garage band or strumming a guitar in their bedrooms suddenly had a career option that could put food on the table while they pursued their dreams of stardom: sound technician.
And the college, somewhat miraculously if you ask me, landed the perfect person to run the program. The comment I hear over and over from the students in MRT is, “Paul Sinclair is the real deal.”
I also often hear, “I thought I knew something about making music until I met Paul Sinclair.”
Recorded music is part of the content in the Mass Communication class, but when I looked out at all these music students I thought, “These kids don’t want to talk about music, they want to play it.”
So, loosely inspired by The David Letterman All Star Band, I decided to form the “Introduction to Mass Communications All Star Band” and have them perform in the college’s TV studio at the end of the Spring Semester. Since I know precious little about music (I cannot carry a tune and the only thing I play is the radio) it was, without doubt, a leap of faith.
But, man, did it work out.
That’s where the aforementioned colleague comes in. Dr. Gary Mrozinski, dean of our division at the time, had played in bands all his life, and the minute he heard of my idea, he was right there.
I stood off to the side at that first, well, jam session I guess you could call it, and marveled at the talent of our students and the way musicians, who had never before played together, could come together. Dean Gary mentioned the song “Mustang Sally” and the kids said they never heard of it. Gary started rattling off letters of the alphabet to the guitar players (I suppose they were chords), the bass player told them to get started and he’d fill in, and the drummer just shrugged and the next thing I knew, they were playing “Mustang Sally.” Dean Gary on lead vocals.
“Mustang Sally” has been played at every one of these events since. Thursday’s was clearly the best rendition yet.
It was Dean Gary, who has since become a professor in the Business Dept., who came up with the name “EdFest.” That was for year three and it stuck.
The event has become much more organized, but not too much. “We want it to have a little bit of a Woodstock feel,” Gary said this year, and I agree.
The MRT kids have taken over the sound system and the lights and this year both were perfect. These kids really know sound. The Audio/Visual Communications majors tape the whole thing and the Photography majors show up with their cameras. The department now provides pizza, cupcakes and soda.
There always seems to be a new twist.
This year, there were two.
A graduate of our program, whom we know as Tony DeMarco and all of Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania know as “Crockett,” the popular DJ on Froggy 101, accepted a request from student Taylor Gugliotti and came back to campus to join her as co-host. That was the first.
The second came out of one of my Advertising classes.
Nick Shedlock had been a talented, dedicated student all semester but it was not until about a month ago that I learned of his musical abilities. It came up in conversation that he had written and performed the class song a year ago at commencement at Wyoming Area High School. One thing led to another and Nick’s band (named “433” after the number of the storage unit they practice in) became the opening act for EdFest 2016.
I also found out that Nick is the grandson of one Nick Anselmi.
“The coach?” I exclaimed when the younger Nick told me.
Yes, it turned out, the coach. As a teenaged sportswriter I met Nick Anselmi back in the late ’60s and have known and admired him since. On Thursday, he came to EdFest to hear and see his grandson perform.
Both Nicks, along with several others, thanked me for the experience. If they only knew how little I had to do with it.