Sunday, April 13, 2008

The St. Louis Horns: A Decade Of Service

Since 1998, two of my good buddies, Neal Connors (saxophone) and Rob Endicott (trumpet), both lawyers based in the St. Louis area, have continued to humor me by making semi-regular trips to Chicago to blow their horns in my semi-regular bar band. And make no mistake, it's The St. Louis Horns that keep people coming to our shows.

While I'm not yet ready to bestow upon them the bar-band equivalent of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, I do owe them a great deal of thanks.

Why do these guys do it?

Why would Rob, who earned a Master's degree from The Juilliard School before going to law school, continue to make the ten-hour round trip to and from these Chicago gigs? It isn't for the money. And it surely can't be for the "challenge" of playing trumpet lines on tunes like "Domino," "Ring of Fire," and "Take a Letter, Maria"? Let's get serious -- this guy used to play Hummel and Haydn with the Rotterdam Philharmonic.

Why would Neal, who spent seven years kicking around the University of Illinois jazz program, while earning his undergrad and law degrees in Champaign, fill busy weekends blowing over three-chord rock-and-roll tunes, which are all too often in sharp keys?

Why go through all that trouble? You'd have to ask them. But for my money, singer/songwriter John Sebastian nailed it when he wrote, "You do it for the stories you can tell."

Over ten years, we've amassed a lot of them. Neal, Rob, and guitarist Joe Roach (currently on unpaid paternity leave) have hung with me through it all. We've gigged in Japan (courtesy of our federal government), played a private party at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and had a chance to record at the legendary Sam Phillips Recording Service in Memphis. We've also met a lot of great people along the way.

Of course, one of the guys who inspires all of us is Neal's dad, Maurice Connors. He's now 93 years old, but he still plays gigs with a couple of different bands in Chicago's western suburbs.

Will we be so lucky? I certainly hope so.

But whenever our time comes, I can assure you, paraphrasing the late Charlton Heston, that they'll have to pry our instruments "from [our] cold, dead hands."


Rob said...

Matt, I thought that the reason I was still in the band was on strict government orders. Since getting the missive from the Department of Defense that our presence on the military base at Iwakuni (Japan) was "vital to the defense mission" of the U.S., I had understook those to be standing orders that had not been revoked.

And make no mistake about it, the changes on 'Smoke That Cigarette' are killer.

Ed Crotty said...

Neal is a definitely a class act - his dad too. Glad you guys are still having fun with it after all these years.