Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Brian Trainor RIP
Brian Trainor World Class Pianist RIP 1950 - 2006
Brian Trainor was our Van Cliburn. A world class pianist from South Jersey, he could play Tchaikovsky and dabbed in rock and roll, but preferred jazz and reveled in it. Brian Trainor nailed the keys like nobody else, took the music to another level, then went on the road to Europe and Asia, where his genius was recognized and he was better appreciated than at home
It wasn’t until the early 1990s, at the second Cape May Jazz Festival, when we realized what an incredible wonder we had right in our midst. The first time he played Cape May was as a sideman, I think it was for singer Oscar Brown at the Rusty Nail. But Brian stood out, boy did he stand out. By the time he got to T. Monk’s "'Round Midnight," everybody was following him to the end, and he was invited back to many other festivals.'
Regardless of the song or who he was playing with, each Brian Trainor session started out the same, with him meticulously dressed, sometimes in a tuxedo, sipping a drink, quietly composed as he sat down at the piano. Beginning soft, and with an increasing fury, he would drag the whole room into the piano like it was a black hole you couldn’t escape. Before he was finished the jacket was off, the tie tossed and shirt unbuttoned. In the end there was a sudden silence and a sweat soaked, hair tossed Brian, with a ferocious grin on his face and roaring, appreciative crowd.
When Brian Trainor played the fledgling Somers Point Jazz Fest in 2004, the electric piano provided him didn’t work, so he pulled over an old standup piano from against the wall at Mac’s that was only used for weddings and hadn’t been tuned in years. He took parts off it, turned it around and sat down and wowed the crowd for two incredible sets, as everyone there will attest.
In Somers Point Brian met Jacque Major, who talked him into stopping by her Sunday afternoon rock & roll gig at the Bubba Mac Shack, where he sat in with the motley band of rockers and added his world class keys to the raucous, outrageous proceedings. From the Academy to the saloon, it didn’t matter, Brian fit in and the band had to keep up with him.
In the All Music Guide, Alex Henderson describes him as, "A melodic pianist/composer who was born and raised in Trenton, NJ, Brian Trainor has loved both jazz and classical since childhood. Trainor's interest in music was greatly encouraged by his father, Francis Trainor, Sr., a singer who had a ‘day gig’ as a meat cuttter and saw to it that his son was studying classical piano as early as kindergarten. Trainor (whose influences range from Bill Evans to Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell) was still a child when he studied jazz piano with Trenton pianist Alan Bosley, and he also had many conversations about jazz with his close friend and neighbor, alto saxman Richie Cole. It was Cole who introduced Trainor to another alto great, Phil Woods, with whom the pianist began studying at the age of 13. Trainor was still a teen-ager when he met his hero Evans, who wasn't teaching formally but took the time to give him advice and feedback. In the late 1960s, Trainor played some live dates with Booker Ervin and Jack DeJohnette. Though Trainor didn't become a huge name in jazz in the 1970s or 1980s, he played quite a few American gigs and spent many months touring Europe.”
As he came to Cape May, Brian first went to Europe to play the French Riveria as a sideman with Philly tenor sax grand daddy Bootsie Barnes, another Cape May Jazz Fest regular. In the 1990s,Trainor led his own piano trio with bassist Vince Fay and drummer Bill Jones, and performed or recorded with some of the best jazz artists in the world.
Becoming known as “the white T-Monk,” after the infamous Thelonious Monk, Trainor's own albums (on Tri-Art Records) include “Wind, Water, Stone” (1992), which was recognized by WRTI Temple Jazz Radio as one of the best albums of the year, “Portraits on Candid” (1994), “Monk & Me” (1996), “Portals” 2006), “Tangled Roots” (2003) and “Tranquillo” (2005).
Brian had also previously done “Take A Train” (1997), a unique collaborative recording with King Crimson drummer Ian Wallace, who recorded with Bob Dylan and did the drum back recording for The Traveling Wilburies (Dylan, Tom Petty, George Harrison, Roy Orbison).
On his internet Blog, Ian Wallace wrote about a Crimson reunion jam session he did inCalifornia in July (7th). "Whilst this was going down, my friend, pianist Brian Trainor was, unbeknownst to me, also in Simi Valley, up from Oceanside attending a dog show with his Mrs. Kelley. Brian is the Trainor from our CD "Take a Train" which sold about three copies in the late eighties. After the show, he and Kelley were driving back home when Brian complained of feeling dizzy. Kelley leaned over to him, put her fingers on his neck and jokingly said, ‘you must be bad, I don’t feel any pulse.’ At which point Brian jerked once and died. An aneurism. He was fifty-five. A great jolly bear of a man with a wonderfully infectious laugh. He called me "E" and I’m going to miss him."
Although I couldn’t find any local obituaries on line, a Spanish jazz magazine did a write up, though its in Spanish, but Brian’s sister responded in English saying, “On behalf of my father, my older brother, Francis and myself, I’d like to thank you for the beautiful write up concerning the life and works of my brother, Brian Trainor. He was an amazing musician which is something I believe one is born with. He was fortunate enough to be born to a household where music was the key ingredient. My late mother, Eleanora was a pianist and loved music, and my father was a singer who encouraged all creativity in his three kids and still does. Mom and Dad together gave Brian the understanding and patience he needed when other parents might have pulled him back. Brian went after music and pursued it with a love like no other. Whenever he could to go a concert or talk to a musician he would. He was even brought home as a teenager by a member of Ray Charles’ band on a number of occasions. It was his life. While others are mourning the loss of him music and creativity, his family is grieving on the loss of him. We ware very sad and shocked still.
His music is living one and his new CD is coming out soon. Thank you again for the great write up on Brian. Just when it is all about Brian, he is not here to gloat. Oh, how we miss him. He was a dear brother and friend. Sadly missed by his sister, Maureen and his family, father brother, brother-in-law, daughter, son and grandkids.”
The new CD, Brian Trainor & Friends’ "Why Try To Change Me Now" was just posthumously released (September 12 on Summit Records), and includes vocals by Cape May Jazz regular Lois Smith and Somers Point's own Jacque Major. When I saw Jacque and Brian collaborate so well, despite playing in different leagues, I thought Brian would play piano on Jacque’s next album, but instead Jacque sings on his.
The record liner notes mention, "The recording documents Trainer's finest and final playing (as well as Marcus). Trainer's excitement for this project was unlike anything he had done previously. Remembering Ray Charles, Shirley Horn and Nina Simone, Trainor was struck by the importance of the lyric in jazz and set out to document this with some of his favorite singers. Herein he has gone all the way back to the original sources and returned with some terrific stories, moving solos and marvelous vocals."
Besides locals Jacque Major and Lois Smith, other vocalists on the recording include Caribbean romance singer Jon Lucien, the legendary Little Jimmy Scott and Kelly Thompson Rodriguez from North Jersey. The man with a girl's voice, Little Jimmy Scott's "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" was a hit in 1950, the year Brian was born, and a testament to the variety of vocalists he has on this recording.
Backing Trainor on piano are his favorite drummer Billy Jones, longtime bassists Vince Fay and Tyrone Brown, Rowan jazz professor Dennis DiBlassio on bass flute, organist Joel Bryant and longtime friend alto saxman Richie Cole. Cole, also a Trenton native, played with Buddy Rich and Lionel Hampton before forming Alto Madness and touring the world, sometimes with Trainor.
Steve Marcus, who plays tenor and soprano sax on this album, also died at the age of 66 last October, shortly after the recording was made. Marcus had helped merge jazz rock fusion with Larry Coryell and Gary Burton before doing straight out jazz with Buddy Rich. The recording was going to be dedicated to him.
Among the songs on "Why Try To Change Me Now?" there’s a lot of lovin’ going on with, "She Goes Home," "When She Loved Him," "I Got It Bad," "Feelin’ Good," "Everytime We Say Goodbye," an instrumental "Song for Island Girl," the crooner classic "I Got the World on a String," and the spiritual "Take My Hand Precious Lord," which I have a feeling Lois Smith sings as gospel.
Brian played and Lois Smith sang many songs together at various Cape May Jazz Festivals over the years, and with their new recording, this festival would have been a real special occasion. But it wasn’t meant to be as planned. Instead, the Cape May All Star Band, which Trainor himself organized, will play a special tribute to him during a memorial service at this fall’s festival at noon on Saturday, November 11th, at Cape May Convention Hall.
The festival program describes Trainor as “a man beyond description and world renowned musician who has deeply touched all involved and in attendance at previous jazz festivals. The Cape May All Star Band will perform in tribute to our sadly missed friend and mentor.”
This festival’s theme is "New Orleans Comes to Cape May," and it will be fitting to give Brian a traditional New Orleans style wake, with Lois Smith leading "When the Saints Come Marching In," just as they conclude every festival. Why try to change it now?
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Talk about laid back.
Since last Friday, when news about Greg Myerson's apparent world-record striped bass started churning up the Internet, his cell phone and email in-box have been jammed with messages. His friends and people suddenly claiming to be his friends have been agog with talk of big money from endorsements.
Nevertheless, Greg Myerson started Monday morning knee-deep in the cold, clear water of Munger Brook, calmly adjusting rocks on a small spillway he constructed next to his North Branford house.
"I'm going to wait and see what happens," he says about the possibility of benefits and fame derived from the 81.88-pound fish he caught Aug. 4 in Long Island Sound, just beyond Outer Southwest Reef off Westbrook.
His wait-and-see attitude is pure wisdom, because the fish must first be certified as a record by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), which approves and keeps track of such things.
"Approval of a record is a rigorous process," says Jack Vitek, IGFA records coordinator.
Not only must appropriate documents be completed but the fishing line and leader used to catch the fish must be tested and the scale on which it was weighed certified. No action can be taken until at least 60 days from the catch day.
Still, says Vitek, "I've seen photos of the fish. It's pretty exciting."
Scoffing at rumors that he would not submit his fish to the IGFA, Myerson, 43, points to his house and says, "I've got the IGFA papers in there."
With that, he tosses a handful of feed pellets into the brook, bringing the water to a boil of hungry trout, fish he has stocked there for fun.
A few minutes later, shutting off his noisy cellphone, Myerson sits in an easy chair by a large window overlooking the brook.
"I can feed my trout out this window," he says.
The Catch That Changes Everything
The big—he's 6-feet-4-inches and 275-pounds—former linebacker at the University of Rhode Island seems almost unaware that, in the angling world, at least, he has become an instant celebrity.
Obviously, however, Myerson is planning ahead.
"I want to start a company that sells online," he says. "It would market T-shirts, caps, fishing rods and maybe reels."
As for endorsements, Myerson adds, he is open to offers but not looking for them.
After news of the catch went out, Myerson says he was called with advice and congratulations by former record-holder Albert McReynolds, who boated a 78.8-pound bass off South Jersey in 1982. McReynolds, formerly of New Jersey and now retired in Florida, made a ton of money but also was targeted by cranks as a hoaxster.
Myerson has already been subjected to similar treatment. One well-known fishing writer wrote in his blog that the fish had been caught by an "Al Stromski" and when the name was corrected, noted that Myerson had suffered a panic attack after being badgered about the fish.
Some posts on the Internet suggest something is fishy about the catch besides the fish itself. The burly Harley-Davidson rider laughs it all off.
Fishing Since Childhood
Many anglers who know Myerson say he's paid his dues and deserves the record.
"Better he catches it than some guy who just happened to toss his line in the water," says a buddy.
During the season, Myerson virtually lives on the water, fishing night after night. Big fish are not a novelty to him. He routinely catches and releases stripers that would be another angler's fish of a lifetime.
Myerson has been fishing for most of his life. He started at age 12, fly fishing on the Muddy River behind a friend's house in his native North Haven. About the same time, he caught his first striper when a family friend took him to the turbulent Race at the eastern end of Long Island Sound.
"From then on, I wanted to catch stripers, he says.
Myerson recounts how he trapped muskrats to earn money for a boat. Fittingly, he chose a salty 17-foot Brockway skiff, a wooden craft built by Old Saybrook's Richard Earle Brockway, a New England legend who produced more than 5,000 boats in his cluttered yard near the Connecticut River, working virtually until he died at age 76 in 1996.
Brockway used a rusted old Cadillac to hoist and tow his boats, which were favored by true watermen for fishing and utility use. Plans for one of his models were circulated to fishermen in developing countries by the United States Peace Corps.
"I watched my boat being built," says Myerson, speaking of the time he spent among the lumber, old tires and tools strewn about next to Brockway's ramshackle home.
"I kept the boat at a marina in Branford," says Myerson. "My parents told me not to go past the town dock. I'd go a lot further than that," he admits.
He now keeps his boat at Pier 76 Marina, north of the Singing Bridge over the Patchogue River in Westbrook.
The Fateful Night
Myerson left the marina with a friend aboard before dusk on Aug. 4 and, once near Southwest, stopped at a bouldery hole marked "22" on his GPS.
"It's my lucky number," he says of the hole's designation. The number is the same as the length in inches of a rainbow trout caught when he was young, still mounted on a wall in his home.
Myerson started his drift about 8 p.m. He favors slack tide at dark's approach for the biggest fish. His reel was a Quantum Cabo and his rod a short, stout St. Croix, at six-and-a-half feet. The eye at the tip of the rod had been removed and replaced with a roller. "I use braided line. It wears at the eye," he explains.
He used a three-way swivel rig with an eel, pretty standard except that he opts for super-size eels, figuring they attract super-size fish.
Reeling Her In
As the drift progressed, Myerson felt a powerful strike. He lost half an eel and the fish. He began the drift again.
"I expected the fish would be still there, especially if it was hungry, he says.
(Turns out it was, exploration of its stomach revealed only a sea star.) The fish slammed the eel again and Myerson hooked it -- or, rather, her. It was obvious he had a whopper at the other end of the line.
"I know what a big fish feels like," he says. "Towing the boat, the striper bottomed then streaked away as stripers are known to do, ripping off line."
Myerson waited for the fish to surface, as he knew it would when it finished its run.
"Crashing the surface, its dorsal fin was so big it looked like Batman's cape," he says.
As Myerson pumped his rod and fought the monster, he slipped on eel slime that coated the deck and bruised his ribs. Eventually the fish tired before Myerson did. At the boat, it edged under the swim platform, which snagged the net wielded by Myerson's companion.
"I use a huge net," says Myerson.
After a few anxious moments, they freed the net and boated the fish. From the broken-off leader in the fish's mouth, it was apparent that someone else had missed the chance at boating a record.
Even though he suspected he had something special, Myerson, laid back as ever, stayed out and continued catching stripers. After finally returning to the rock, he iced the fish, put it in his truck and relaxed for a while at a nearby seafood spot. Only after he returned home did he weigh it. Then he went to bed.
The next morning, a customer was having a reel spooled with line at Jack's Shoreline Bait & Tackle in Westbrook. The phone rang and owner Jack Katzenbach answered. After the call, he turned to the customer and another man who was hanging out and told them, "A big striper is coming in for weighing, more than 81 pounds."
And that is what it turned out to be, on Katzenbach's scale.
Editor's note: This article previously was published by Killingworth-Durham-Middlefield Patch.
(Photo Press of AC)
Kierran Broatch/On The Water Magazine
Greg Myerson of Westport, Conn., holds a striped bass that he caught in the Long Island Sound on Thursday night. The fish was weighed at 81.88 pounds, which if certified, would break the world record.
Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 12:05 am | Updated: 8:26 am, Wed Aug 10, 2011.
By MIKE SHEPHERD, For The Press |
Greg Myerson said Tuesday he's sorry to take the world-record striped bass record from Atlantic City, but he is happy to have it in Westbrook, Conn.
Myerson caught an 81.88-pound striped bass last Thursday in the Long Island Sound that beats the existing record of 78 pounds, 8 ounces set by former Atlantic City resident Albert McReynolds on Sept. 21, 1982.
McReynolds, who caught his bass while fishing from an Atlantic City jetty, gave Myerson his congratulations, and some advice.
"I talked to him about five times," Myerson said. "He's been treating me with nothing but respect. He told me to lay low for a couple of days. Just enjoy it."
Myerson said McReynolds, who now lives in Naples, Fla., also advised him not to worry about what everybody says.
"He probably is the only person who knows what I was going through," Myerson said.
He said that he's been getting about a 100 calls a day "easy" about the fish. On Tuesday, he did an interview with The Fisherman magazine, which is putting his story on the front page. And he is setting up another interview for today with Coastal Angler magazine.
He spent another part of Tuesday filling out all the paperwork to certify the fish and the world record with the International Game Fish Association.
However, the demands on his time have not cut into his fishing. But that's mainly because the weather in Connecticut has been "crummy," he said.
"Everyone has been pretty cool," Myerson said. "Nothing has changed. I'm just going to keep on fishing."
He was headed out Tuesday night.
McReynolds said Tuesday that he gave Myerson a couple of tips based on his experience in 1982. According to an article in The Press in 2008, McReynolds referred to his catch as the "night he caught the devil."
He caught the fish during a rain storm, battling 25-knot winds and crashing waves off the jetty. He spent years defending the catch from others who claimed it was caught by a net instead of a rod and reel. He said he even received hate mail.
Two days after Myerson's catch, McReynolds called The Press to say that he was considering legal action for fraud. But when reached on Tuesday, the 64-year-old said that Myerson deserves the honor of the new world record because Myerson is a real fisherman who earned it.
McReynolds said it is not about the money or honors, but about the joy of fishing. That was his biggest advice for Myerson - just do whatever makes him happy.
"Keep fishing, get out of the house, stay focused on fishing," McReynolds said Tuesday.
Myerson said he took the advice. The only problem was that when he went out to his world-record fishing spot on the eastern end of Long Island, "It was like a parking lot ... I didn't go near my spot."
Myerson is a 43-year-old union electrician who lives in North Branford, Conn. He fishes just about every night he can.
He has a spot he likes with big underwater rocks. He says fishing is best there near slack tide at high water at night or evening, and the moon has got to be high in the sky. He says it's always like that when he catches the big ones.
The night he caught the world-record contender, Myerson said fishing partner Matt Farina caught a 48-pounder. He said the wind has to be right, too. That night, the wind came up and the fish were moving.
He weighed the fish last Friday morning at Jack's Shoreline Bait and Tackle in Westbrook. He weighed it on the boat with a digital scale and it was 82 pounds, which prompted him to call ahead when they were coming back.
By the time they arrived, the word had spread and a crowd was there to witness local history.
He was competing in the On The Water magazine's Striper Cup tournament when he caught the super-heavyweight. He was the On The Water angler of the year last year with three bass that weighed more than 60 pounds.
Jack Vitek, records coordinator for the IGFA, said Tuesday that the record could be confirmed as early as 60 days from the catch date, Aug. 4.
The IGFA has a set of rules for applying for a world record:
- the fish must be weighed on certified scales;
- an IGFA record application must be filled out and notarized
- photos of the angler and the fish, the scales and the rod and reel must be submitted with the application
- plus samples of the leader and a minimum of 50 yards of the line. They test the line for breakage point to determine line class records. In this case, it is an all-tackle application.
Vitek said he will put all the information into a database and meet with the IGFA president and conservation director to go over everything. They might request witness testimony.
Vitek said he is looking forward to getting the application.
Myerson has an Atlantic City connection. His father brought him here on vacations when he was a kid, staying at Boardwalk hotels. He also spent a few days at the Sen. Frank S. Farley Marina in Atlantic City riding out rough ocean when he took his uncle's boat from Greenport, Conn., to West Palm Beach, Fla.
He said that trip was memorable because he met golf legend Arnold Palmer. "I'm a golfer, so I was into that," he said.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Irish American Vol. 1 # xx
Fleming's Life "note" worthy
By Tom Mahon
Irish American Staff
Sean Fleming likes to play music. Doesn't matter where, doesn't matter when.
Back in 1969, Fleming sat in a helicopter flying high above war-torn Vietnam. He and the pilot were trying to locate some troops that he was supposed to entertain.
As they searched, Fleming daydreamed of what could have been - what should have been.
Just a year and a half earlier his life was full of promise. He had appeared on the Merv Griffin show several times and had signed a record and a movie deal with MGM. With any luck, the talented musician and singer was on his way to fame and fortune.
And then it happened.
"I was a resident alien and back then you could be drafted if you had a green card," said Fleming, who hails from Country Kerry in Ireland. "I spent the next two years in the Army." Making the best of a bad situation, Fleming, who was already proficient on the accordion, learned to play the guitar while in the Army.
"I would play for guys in the MASH units from time to time," said Fleming. "One day, General Hayes, a woman who was the head of the Army Nurses Corp, saw me perform and told me that what I was doing [with the guitar] was more important than what I was doing with an M-16. So for the last five months or so I played for the troops. But even that was extremely dangerous. Often times it was just myself and a pilot in a helicopter flying around looking for US troops in places that you wouldn't think troops would be. We would radio ahead and ask them to send up smoke to let us know where they were located."
Fleming survived the war, but his budding career took a major hit.
"I was just glad to get out of there alive," Fleming said. "The first guy I shared a tent with never made it back. After I came out I had to start (my career) from scratch. Everything changes quickly in the entertainment business and when I got back things had changed dramatically."
The calendar told him it was 1971, just two years since he'd made the last of seven appearances on the Merv Griffin show. But in show business, two years is an eternity, and Fleming found himself starting over, trying to work his way back to where he was before he got drafted.
Once he had shared the stage with such notable performers as the Beach Boys, Della Reese and Rodney Dangerfield. Now, he found himself back in New York City performing a solo act. - just himself and an acoustic guitar - in small clubs and pubs. Eventually, he formed several bands and played several large venues including Carnegie Hall and Philadelphia's Robin Hood Dell.
You can catch The Sean Fleming Band at the Bucks County Irish Festival at the Phoenix Club in Feasterville on June 4, and at the annual 2000 Irish Festival on June 17 - 18 at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia. Fleming who plays guitar, synthesizer and accordion heads up one of the most talented bands anywhere.
On drums is Steve Holley, who has backed up some of the biggest names in music, including Paul McCartney and Wings, Elton John, Kiki Dee, Joe Cocker and Julian Lennon. On guitar is Justin Jordan, who has played with the likes of the Turtles (Flo & Eddy), the Shirelles, Joey Dee and the Starlites and Frankie Ford.
And on bass is Bruce Gordon, who has recorded with Ray Davies of "The Kinks." Gordon, who started out playing blues and R&B in Buffalo, NY, has a diverse musical background. He was a member of the new wave band "The Screaming Honkers," which appeared in the movie "Ishtar," and has also performed in a country and western swing band called the Jazz Cowboys."
And, of course, there is Fleming, whose Irish roots help give the band a unique, hard-driving sound.
Those who knew Sean Fleming as a lad growing up in a golf club house on the shores of the Lakes of Killarney, could never have imagined that he would end up performing in a Celtic rock band.
A golf pro maybe. Fleming to this day is and avid duffer who has played some of the best courses in the world including Pine Valley in New Jersey.
But a Celtic rock performer?
Surely, he loved music, but in the beginning he played anything but rock and roll.
"I guess I was about 4 or 5 when I got interested in music," he said. "I got a harmonica every year for my birthday and I'd found an old accordion in the closet and learned how to play that too. I was amazed at how easy it was for me to get a sound out of it. I went from that to the piano accordion and was a member of the Killarney Monastery Accordion Band, a group run by Brother Finian [of the Christian Brothers order]. We would play marches, semiclassical, waltzes - music of that genre. But certainly no traditional Irish music. In my opinion, it's really impossible to learn traditional Irish music through notes. You have to play it by ear, you have to live it."
"I used to play a lot of traditional Irish music on the regular accordion. And when I came to New York I played for the dances and feises."
"Playing for feises isŠ. well you have to have the patience of Job," he continued with a laugh. "I'd play the same song, 35 times for a group of 4-5 and 6 year old dancers. But I think that it's wonderful that the youngsters today are involved in Irish dancing and I encourage it. It's nice to see them keep the traditions alive."
" I remember when I was growing up that people would go out on St. Bridget's Day. Guys would dress as girls and girls would dress as guys. And some people would put a little band together and go from house to house and sing a song. They'd get half a crown or whatever and take the money and have a Biddy Ball. That's where I got my traditional Irish music background."
That background has served Fleming and his band well as his legion of fans continues to grow.
Fleming, like many others, is quick to credit one man with the resurgence in the popularity of Irish music and dance. "Michael Flatley" Fleming said, referring to the originator of the wildly popular Riverdance. "There is certainly no doubt in my mind that Riverdance had a tremendous impact on Celtic music."
"Before that you had groups such as the Pogues and the Chieftains, but they didn't attract as large an audience. I know a guy I Washington, D.C. who teaches Irish dancing. When I first met him several years ago he had four or five students. Now, He has over 325 and he's thinking of building has own studio. "
"And it's not just Irish Americans that are involved. There are kids that have absolutely no affiliation with the Irish who are taking lessons. It's great."
That non-Irish people are interested in Celtic music and dance doesn't surprise Fleming, who likes to listen to all types of music.
If you were to see Fleming motoring about New York in his 1974 BMW 3.0 CS you might be surprised to hear what radio station he was tuned to.
"You can tell a lot about a person by the pre-sets on their car radio," said Fleming. "My No. 1 pre-set on AM is National Public Radio. My No. 1 pre-set on FM is Fordham University's station, which plays everything from Irish music, Celtic music, American Folk music and the Blues. "
"I also have a country pre-set, a cutting-edge rock and roll pre-set, a classical pre-set and a pre-set for the Fairleigh Dickinson University station which plays New Age music. I like a lot of different types of music because I an learn something from all of them."
To date, Fleming has released four albums and written about "10 to 12" original songs. He's married to Liselotte, an exercise physiologist who has taught at Queen's College, who has started the Preschool of the Nyacks. They have three children, Dillon, 8, Anders, 5 and Elin, 2 and live in a beautiful home on a hillside off the Hudson River near Tarrytown, NY, about 25 miles from Manhattan.
Fleming's career has taken him to just about every major city in the U.S. and he has played in Ireland, Japan , the Philippines and the Czech Republic.
Raising a family has forced him to take another look at his career. Fleming said he no longer thinks about making it big.
"If it happens, it happens," he said matter-of-factly. In the meantime, he's hoping to branch out into other areas.
"I'm thinking about doing a children's album," he said. "And I've begun to think about writing [songs] a lot more ad having someone else - or perhaps myself - record them. I'm also thinking about putting together an Atlantic City act that I would do on a semi-regular basis, a couple of weeks at a time.
"Sort of a Celtic-flavored Wayne Newton," he added with a laugh.
Sean Fleming in an Atlantic City casino act?
Don't bet against it.
"I'm a large procrastinator," he said. "So who knows what will happen?"
Certainly not Fleming.
His career has taken more left turns that a race car driver in the Indy 500.
Thirty-one years ago he flew in a helicopter over war-torn Vietnam looking for some troops to play for.
Now the troops come to him - an army of loyal fans that show up wherever he plays.
They listen to him and his band in spots such as Finnigan's Wake, Brittingham's and Callahan's. And at the Philadelphia Festival on Penn's Landing too.
Who knows? Maybe someday the venues will become bigger. Perhaps Fleming will see his name on the marquee of an Atlantic City casino or even the First Union Center.
For now, he's perfectly content, right where he is.
Sean Fleming, you see, likes to play music.
Jack Gillespie was a great guy, and the way he died reminds me of this poem.
Born in Donegal, my favorite town in all Irleand, Jack Gillespie came to America as a young boy, served in the military during WWII and moved to Browns Mills where he opened JC's - Jack & Connie's general store and later JC's Pub (now Belly Busters).
At some point in time Jack returned home to Ireland accompanied by his sons, and they played golf there.
I remember when Jack was dying and his family came back to Browns Mills to see him, which reminds me of this poem.
The Old Golfer Dies
By Edgar A. Guest
Old Andy was a dying man. The
Doctor shook his head.
“You’d better call the family in,”
unto the nurse he said.
“He tries to speak,” the nurse replied,
and bending low she heard:
“I want the boys, I want the boys –
for them I have a word.”
His loved ones gathered round his
Bed and watched him weaker grow.
“I must,” he gasped,’ say something
to the boys before I go.”
“They’re coming, Pa; they’ll soon be
here,” a daughter softly said.
“Give me the message you would
leave,” but Andy shook his head.
They wondered what he had to tell
And what was on his mind,
But none could guess the counsel
Which he wished to leave behind.
“The boys, the boys,” he spoke again,
“’tis them I wish to see,
I hope they will get here in time to
Hearken until me.”
Into the room they came at last,
The old man called them near.
“My boys,” said he in faltering tones,
“not long will I be here,
But this I want to say to you once
More before I die:
Never play your brassie when you
Have a down-hill lie!”