Singer, Guitar, Keyboards, Violin (1981 – 1982)
It was a great honor to be invited to join Stickband. To work with such outstanding musicians on original and fascinating music was a thrill. I had just started playing the Chapman Stick, and although I didn’t own my own, Jim was kind enough to lend me his first Stick. I was also able to play keyboards (a Moog Liberation and Yamaha CP 70 electric grand) and electric violin, and sing too! We even did a couple of my originals that fit the style and format.
As a songwriter, I had been writing more and more in a mainstream musical style, and found that I didn’t have a vehicle for some of my songs with the instrumentation in Stickband, so I eventually stepped down so that I could pursue another band format. But I have great memories of working together on complex rhythms and very cool grooves with Bob Culbertson, Jim and the two different drummers we had during my time with Stickband!
Verlene was a fantastic musician singer/vocal instructor, keyboard player, violinist and songwriter. She was also quite a pretty lady (still is), and added a wonderful presence to the Stickband live show.
She also was a teacher at my music school; I got to know Verlene in that setting and even collaborated with her and a couple of other teachers on a guitar technique book. During that time, the discussion came up about Verlene possibly joining our group. She did for a while, and she brought with her some interesting talents to the band.
Verlene was with us during a television show a local Bay Area television show that we did and we do have some footage with her in the lineup. Check it out.
Like all bands and musicians, we where always stretching out always trying new things interacting with new people, always looking for that perfect magical combination. The Sticks and the other instruments, while unique and different, got a little confusing for us from an arrangement and sonic standpoint, especially after we lost a couple of the great drummers.
After she was with us for a while, I think that Verlene just felt Stickband and the instrumentation, although creative, was a little out there for what she was thinking of as a song writer; she wanted to work with more conventional types of instruments.
It was great fun playing with her while she was in the band, and I definitely have great memories about working with her and her talents.
We are Facebook friends to this day; she’s married and has continued her career as both musician and vocal instructor and is quite successful. She’s still very creative she has even added harp playing to here many versatile talents.
It really was a pleasure and an honor to have worked with her.
Verlene Performing at the second Stickband Reunion in 2018
Verlene: “I have played my Rees double-strung harp at Stanford Hospital for patients at bedside, as well as in units and waiting areas since 2003. By 2013, I’d had many experiences playing for patients, some that were always alone in their rooms, and others who always had a family member or close friend by their side. What a difference the support of that primary caregiver made to the experience of the patient during their hospitalization! I wanted to sing a song that honored the caregiver, but couldn’t find one that really expressed it, so, naturally, I wrote one…”