Sunday, February 26, 2017

My sister's book club is soliciting entries in an essay competition about "second chances" so I just wrote this:

As a one man band traveling from country to country and town to town all over Europe for twenty years in a rusty old camper van I had many a second chance. One particular one that comes to mind was back in 2005 when the Swiss police were going to confiscate my old 1978 Mercedes truck from me and compress it into a bale of iron and aluminum for recycling. I would also get to pay several hundred dollars in fines and fees to cover the costs.

I had been living in Big Baby(so named for the double Bs in the license number) for almost 18 years at the time and it was my home, full of all my worldly treasures and possessions. It was a wonderful truck which I bought in Holland from an old man who used it to sell “Ouldie Bouliches” a delicious Dutch pastry much like our beloved donuts. I had outfitted it with a bathroom, kitchen, dining room and bedroom as well as a corner to practice my one man band. It also had a fold up stage for me to perform on the side and an amazing terrace on the roof from which I enjoyed many a scenic view. It was an awesome truck but alas it was old and did not comply with the all the Swiss very strict regulations upon motor vehicles.
The police came knocking one day while I was parked in a beautiful spot one of Switzerlands many clear blue lakes. They had me follow them to an inspection station where my truck was deemed unworthy of Swiss roads.
The police were polite and civil enough. They gave me almost a week to empty my truck out. They had me park it on the parking lot of an unused railroad station in the nearby town of Solothurn. They took my plates and instructed me not to drive but I would be allowed to live in it while I figured out what to do with all my belongings.
I had no idea what to do though. I couldn’t legally buy another vehicle in Switzerland and even if I could rent a vehicle to salvage my one man band and all my possessions I really had no idea where to store them. I was really freaked out by this but luckily I was travelling with my faithful companion Jolly Olly, the always happy and friendly Swiss Appenzeller dog who helped keep me from total break down and despair.
As luck would have it, Olly struck up a friendship with a dog that lived in a house that bordered on the station parking lot. I got to conversing with his owner and of course told him all about my situation.
I had pretty much decided that I had not much other choice but to fill a backpack with a few carefully chosen things and find a friend who might let me and Olly stay for a while until I figured out what my next step would be. What made me saddest was that this could well have been the end of the Professor World Show, the one man band performance of mine that had made millions of people smile in so many countries for the past couple of decades. The crazy contraption that I built had grown into a giant music machine too big to schlepp around without a good sized truck. It would have to stay behind but I wanted to make one last show with it before it got squashed along with Big Baby.
The neighbor that I had been pouring my heart out to about all this was very sympathetic. He suggested that I could make a show right there on the empty parking lot to which I had been confined by the police.  He would bring all his neighbors and there was a home for handicapped children right nearby which could bring all their kids.
            And so it came to pass. What could well have been the very last Professor World Show took place in the empty parking lot of that abandoned railroad station the following Sunday afternoon. It was a wonderful show as well. The weather was warm and sunny . A good crowd of locals showed up as well as a dozen children from the nearby home for the handicapped. Everyone had a great time and when the hat was passed around for me the audience was more generous than I had ever dreamed possible.
            But the next day the police were scheduled to stop by and tow my truck to the wreckers. I was very sad but not for long. Some of the neighbors who were at the show interceded on my behalf and the police changed their minds. The next day they informed me that if I were to fix a couple of things with the steering and weld a few spots on the frame I would have another chance to take it through the inspection!
            I couldn’t believe my luck but it gets even better. I went looking for a mechanic right away and found a nearby garage and explained my situation to the owner. He took an immediate liking to me and Olly and offered his assistance. I would help out with the work and the only thing he would charge me was for the replacement parts. We set to work right away and with his unwavering assistance we soon got it through the inspection.
            Almost miraculously the Professor World Band was back on the road making people smile once again!
Moral of the story; Never lose hope. It ain't over til it's over!

Here's a couple of photos of Olly, my possibly last ever Professor World Show and the mechanic who helped me get Big Baby through inspection.





My first very own self made documentary
Interview with WGBH

Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy New Year! Wow 2017 is almost here. Another year has gone by and what a crazy year it's been! Now more than ever the Professor World Band will be in demand to generate the Peace Waves that are so desperately needed. While there is still music there is always hope!

The big news for me since my last posting is that I've moved from the Cambridge Coop where I was lucky to live for the past eight years to a little red ranch house on the edge of a small town in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. At this point it is uncertain if this move is only temporary or permanent. It sure is lovely out here though and peaceful. I've got deer and bear and fox and all kinds of critters right in my backyard.

Best of all though, I have my very own awesome basement workshop and practice room where I can make as much sound and music as I like whenever I feel like it. I've been doing a lot of practicing and I'm looking forward to doing lots more throughout the winter here and improving my show.
One of the first things I've been working on here in my basement is a brand new portable one man band. It is still fairly early in the developmental stage but I took it out for a test run in the Harvard T station a couple of weeks ago and I was quite pleased with the results. I am thinking about taking a trip with it to somewhere warm this winter.
Playing with my new portable one man band in the Harvard T station

It is a two hour drive from my new house to Boston though and not too many places to busk nearby. I often drive in to play and stay weekends in my van but will probably not do that so often after New Years until it starts warming up again. I'm expecting a pretty tough winter as we've already gotten a fair amount of snow. I am working on finding more gigs and places to play out in Western Mass. I played at the Asheville Fall Festival a couple of months back and that was fun. Last week I did a Channuka gig at Temple Israel in Greenfield that also went well. Let me know if anyones got any good ideas for me. I've been giving out my publicity at schools but haven't heard back from any yet.

I'm also working on my very own documentary film with the help of Greenfield Public TV. They leant me a camera to film and now they are teaching me to edit in their studio. It will hopefully be finished soon and then it will be aired on local TV and posted on the internet. I will post a link to it here on my site when it is ready.

That's about all my news that's fit to print for the moment. Here is one last photo of me playing in the Public Gardens in October with a couple of French horn players from a local music school. I thought we sounded really good together.

Happy 2017 to one and all from the Professor World Band!
I am making a "Wall of Sound" down in my basement!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

My highest ever gig so far!

Here are a couple of photos from my last gig. It was on the top floor of an M.I.T. dormitory building. I believe it was the 27'th floor. It houses over 2000 people, some of them married couples with children. In any case the view of Boston and Cambridge was pretty amazing. Perhaps the Peace Wave Generator broadcasts better from such a high altitude because the gig went really well as can be seen in the photo here, everybody there joined the band and helped me keep the beat.

I've got a couple more gigs coming up that I'm pretty excited about. There's a Children's Art festival in Haverhill coming up on Saturday June 4th. That's thanks to Elaine Barker who saw me playing in the Public Gardens last weekend.

Then there's the Howland street block party on June 18th in the Cambridge neighborhood that I live in. That's always a fun event that I've played at for the past five or six years.

And then on July 23rd I'll be playing at the Boston Children's Museum at a Maker fair they are organizing.  I'm really excited to be playing there so come on down and bring the family and friends to see the Professor World Band in action. I am scheduled to be playing there from 11:00 to 12.00 and then again from 1:00 to 2:00.

If you know anyone who needs a really unique and crazy one man band to entertain guests at their special event just have them contact the Professor World Band right here through this website! My dream is to someday play together with the Muppets on Sesame Street so if you run into Kermit or Miss Piggy or Big Bird or any of those guys, please feel free to put in a good word for me!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Return of the Rotating Stage!

I've been very busy with the new version of the Professor World Band since returning from Guatemala. and it's been lot's of fun. I also have been working on a rotating platform for it which is pretty awesome. I had a rotating stage years ago when I was traveling around Europe but this newer version is much easier to set up and transport and it needs no motor to keep it going around. It's a real attention getter and people have been very excited about it. I'm hoping for a good season playing in the Public Gardens and Harvard Square. When it starts getting hot perhaps I'll take a trip up to Canada this year.
 You can see the rotating stage in the developmental phase in this recently made documentary made by Harvard student, Michael Genecin for a class.