Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Our Class Musicians

When I was in high school I had the vague notion that if you were in a band that had a top ten hit you were pretty well set. Since then I’ve known musicians who had hit record, appeared on national television, had a follow-up album that tanked, and were dropped by their label. Within a couple of years had to get “real” jobs, much like in the movie. I knew that Brian Mann beat the odds and made music a career. I wanted to see if any of our other classmates were lifelong musicians so I Googled “The Youngmen” a few months ago and found this 2001 interview with Bob Gulley where he mentions he was doing a CD with Larry Hanson in Nashville. Then Debbie (Juratsch) Davis told me about our classmate Larry Hanson and sent me a link to his MySpace page. Larry played with Alabama for 18 years. In case you're not a for country music fan, Alabama won the CMA “Entertainers of the Year” award for five years in a row(and if Kenny Chesney has a bad year that will remain a record). This home video was shot in June, Larry is in the white T-shirt. He’s coming to the reunion all the way from Music City and sent us this rundown of what he’s been up to since high school:

I played for Alabama from 1987 until the end of our farewell tour in Oct 2004. I did all the live concerts, all the TV show (real and fake) as well as got to play on several different albums. I did play in these videos, "When It All Goes South", "The Blessing" and "Alabama For The Record" (a video taping that included all 42 #1 hits played live starting with #1 etc--without a bathroom break)! Before Alabama I worked for the Righteous Brothers as well as Bill Medley as his bandleader for 6 years. I am currently working with my daughter, Jennifer Hanson. She's a country artist on Universal South Records, a very successful songwriter and a former Miss California 1994 (Dad's very proud and very happy to be out working in her band--I'm the old guy in the back)! If you Google Jennifer's name there should be lots of information about her including where to buy either of her CDs. I still play with Alabama guitarist, Jeff Cook doing all his live shows. I have a studio in Nashville where I do sessions as well as write music. I have three wonderful kids, Jennifer, Brayden (in college) and Lauren (a senior in high school) and could write a book on how great that part of my life is--nothing is better than family!

Looking forward to next Saturday,
Larry Hanson

PS: Several years ago the Alabama band, John Stamos and myself were all pictured in a Mullet Hall of Shame website--now that's something to be proud of!

I’ve known Brian Mann since grade school. After high school and college I worked at Phoenix’ New Times, the alternative weekly where in lieu of a minimum wage we got free concerts tickets. I went to see Kenny Loggins in 1977 or so and there on stage was Brian playing keyboards. I remember an incredible intro he did where he played two recorders at once. We got together afterwards and the next year I saw him when he played before tens of thousands at the football stadium in Tucson for what must have been the biggest tour of all time, up to then, Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” tour.

Brian is living in Santa Barbara with his wife, Leslie. They have two sons, Josh who graduated from Berkeley and Gabe who graduated last year ago from UCSB. Brian’s stepdaughter Leyla and husband live in LA with Brian’s grandbaby, Amelia. Brian has been doing music for TV projects. He’s done a number of recordings on the Narada label. In 1990 he did a new age jazz CD, Cafe du Soleil, an accordion sound to relax by. You can find his music on iTunes, just search for “Brain Mann”, or simply search for Brian and Larry at the picnic.

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