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San Clemente Journal

Garage Bands? Alive and Well in San Clemente.

Mar 18, 2020 10:47AM ● By Mike Chamberlin

Waiting for their first gig, the no-name band includes: Linda Price (retired music educator), Al Fererazi (retired educator), Terry Lucchese (retired engineer) and Phil Simmergren (retired therapist).

by Mike Chamberlin

I know a little something about garage bands. I was in one in the middle 1960s in San Clemente. In fact, the lead guitar player was Fred Swegles, who went on to be one of the foremost and well-known of San Clemente journalists. We rehearsed in my parents’ garage on Avenida Teresa. From that tiny garage overlooking San Clemente we were amplifying Beatles and Rolling Stones songs like crazy! We must have driven the neighbors nuts, but they never complained.  

Fast forward to 2020…I was walking my current San Clemente neighborhood this year and I heard a familiar yet different sound coming from a garage down the street. Being the nosy type, I made my way to the music, only to discover no guitars, nor drums or amps. Instead five musicians sat behind music stands, and they looked to be serious musicians. 

Sticking my nose further into their rehearsal garage, I was surprised to see two trumpets, two trombones and one French horn. No Beatles songs being played there, but more relaxing swing-jazz music, music from the 1940s and ‘50s. So, whose garage was this and what’s up with this old, old school music wafting through the neighborhood?  

It turns out that my neighbor, Linda Price, a retired music educator, is one of the two trumpet players in the band. She introduced the ensemble. “The usual members are myself and Al Fererazi (retired special educator) on trumpet, Phil Simmergren (retired respiratory therapist) on French horn, plus Kyeong Kim (retired music educator) and Terry Lucchese (retired engineer) on trombones.” She added, “We are all retired in the age range of 61-72 and we all play in other bands in Orange County and beyond.” 

It seems the ensemble was founded by a gentleman who sadly passed away at age 93 and played up until his last days. Linda, the only true San Clemente resident, was handed the baton (so to speak) and the band played on.

Their arrangements or “book,” as she calls it include everything from Bach to Rock. They play selections from the movies, musicals and plays. Linda added, “We even do a Jimmy Buffet medley, as well as more legit classical arrangements written specifically for a standard brass quintet.” If she had to narrow it down to her three favorites, she’d choose “The Theme from The Magnificent Seven,” “Funeral March of a Marionette” (not as morbid as it sounds) and “The Theme from Blazing Saddles.”

The quintet has been playing together for a year and a half, but they have yet to land their first gig and they are still looking for a name for their band. “Actually,” Linda explained, “we have come up with names but none of them are suitable for print.”  

So, how do the Seaview Townhomes neighbors and residents feel about the music floating through the neighborhood?  “No one has called the police on us yet for disturbing the peace, so I guess that’s a good sign.” Then she added, “So far all the neighbors seem to like the music, at least that’s what they’ve told me.”

I am still perplexed that the group does not have a name so I’m suggesting: The Amazing Grays. J.O.Y. (Just Older Youths), The Merry Music Makers, OK Gang (Older Kids Gang), Young at Heart, The Fun Bunch, The Silver Tones, SHARP (Sincerely Happy Association of Retired Persons), XYZ (Xtra Years of Zest), Keen Agers, Empty Nesters, AARP (American Artists Ready to Play).
But, of course, this group isn’t about clever names; it’s all about merriment and music, according to Linda. “We get together for the pure enjoyment of playing music and the camaraderie it creates!”

And the band played on …