Monday, June 05, 2006

A Guest Post from Sean

My name is Sean Richarz. I came to Dirty Jack's in May of '76, driving my Dad's '66 Mustang, which we still own (I was with Dad when we bought it brand new). I had just finished my first year of college at the University of Idaho, and was nervous about my first real professional gig. I had gotten the job by auditioning on my trumpet by tape for Jon Stainbrook. I still have the letter telling me he hired me, with pay of $65 a week, a shared room and one meal a day. The first shock was that we never used the Broadway books with our parts in them, like a normal musical, but Doc Holt taught us parts by ear and rote. I never figured out if this was because he didn't read music or what, but since we did it that way everything was obviously memorized. It was a little wierd. Doc was an amazing musician, and he did all this funny show-off stuff like play blind folded and with a table cloth covering the piano keys, and he never missed a beat, playing something like "Malaguena". I enjoyed getting to know the other guys in the band, most of whom were older than me, except for Paul Coover the trombone player, whose was 18, same as me. Tim I knew a little bit in college, we hit it off quick, and with Rick too. Marco was a real character. It seems to me that we rehearsed for about 2 weeks before we opened, did some shows and then had a Grand Opening night.

There was a restaurant attached to the theater, and we played from 6-7:30 each night in there, usually playing jazz standards and whatever Doc came up with. We got to eat there, our one meal a day, and since it was a Chuckwagon style the main thing was either chicken or steak, but we could only have steak once a week, so we ate chicken 6 days a week. At $65 a week, most of us only ate the one meal a day. I still like chicken somehow. Anyway, at 7:30 we moved to the theater lobby and did a sing-along to warm up the audience before they went to their seats. It was fun. We also did a "Stump the Band" bit, and the deal was that if you did stump the band, you had to come up and play or sing the song, so naturally we hardly admitted to knowing the songs, even though between us, and especially Doc, we knew most of the challenges. It was pretty funny though, I remember the Orem, Utah High School football team getting up to do the Doobie Bros. "Black Water" which seemed to be something they had worked on during the long bus rides. Another one was the guy who yelled out "Sabre Dance backwards", which of course we really didn't know. "Sabre Dance" is a famous piece by the Russian composer Khatukurian, but backwards? So he came up and played it on piano, it sounded like ragtime, and I'll be damned if you could tell it was really the tune backwards. When we finished the sing-along we went to places in the theater for an 8 o'clock curtain. The show was fun, some of the actors would do some pretty funny improv, but my memory is that only Jon Stainbrook and a couple of other guys were really "authorized" to do that. The crowds seemed to really love the show, and we sold out or came close to it almost every night. I don't know exactly how long the show ran as I had to leave in late August to go back to school. I myself did 86 nights in a row of "Paint Your Wagon". I played it left handed some nights, just to have a little challenge, and besides it is good to know how to do that in case you break your right hand. When I went back to college, I left early in the morning, drove 11 hours and walked right into a marching band rehearsal. Good timing!

It was a real experience that summer, both musically and personally. Some funny stuff I remember: We had a live mule in one scene, and one night, on stage it really let go urinating. Seems like it went on about 2 minutes. It was on a wing of the stage that had sand on it, so it could have been worse, but the audience (and us) were howling. I think the mule belonged to a local kid, Mikey, and he walked it home every night. On the 4th of July Jon came to me with a request. This was the bicentennial remember, and people were going pretty crazy. There were lots of bikers in town, real ones, not the yuppie Harley guys we have now. So Jon knew I had a little pistol that I had brought to target shoot with in our down time, and he asked me to escort Mikey and the mule home that night after show, in case some crazed biker started to mess with the mule. I did it, Jon was the big boss after all, but the whole walk to Mikey's that night I just kept hoping no one would approach us. I kept asking myself, What am I supposed to do, shoot somebody over this mule. Luckily, nothing happened, but it was nerve racking.

Speaking of the bicentennial, they loaded the Dirty Jack's band onto a flatbed truck and put us in the parade down main street, July 4th, 1976. It was fun, I still have some photos.

Since that summer, I have remained in music. I toured with a couple of rock bands and I still play trumpet and conduct, and write and arrange music in the Seattle area. I teach at a private high school, where we have a very strong Performing Arts Program. I have played in or conducted all kinds of musicals, from "Cabaret" to "Pippin" to "Das Barbeque" and all the standards like "Hello Dolly". I wrote a musical called "Rising Star", and have recently received a grant to write a musical about a period of Napoleons life referred to as the "100 Days". That is a big project and a huge challenge, but it should be fun.

Well, that's all for now.

Here's to the summer of '76!

Sean