Skates, Smokestack Lightning and Scott Joplin

Just the other day, my oldest son and I were talking about music and how it has been such a big part of our family life. Can you imagine the cacophony of sounds in our household as four stereos blared each particular kid’s favorite music? 

George recalled how his love of music evolved, aside from listening to music at home. It started at Skate City in Yorktown during the ’80s. He’d go with friends on the weekend, skating for fun and paying a steep price: blisters and numerous falls, which produced many bruised elbows and knees. He said it took him a good two weeks to get on an even keel and skate without going “butt over teakettle.”

One Saturday evening, we decided to go down and watch the action at the rink. I moved over to the side of the rink to join the other onlookers; I couldn’t help but notice a young man executing some wild moves with poise and skill in the middle of the floor as everyone applauded. As he jumped, landed gracefully and spun around, I looked at his face: 

Sign Up for E-News

“Oh my God! That’s my kid! How did he learn to do that?” I was so proud!

George watched and learned from the DJs at the rink. They taught him well as he soon became one of them. I remember the album collection he accumulated at home. He set up turntables in his room and practiced for hours. George soon was invited to DJ at a few private parties.

“Nice to get paid for something I love to do,” he told me.

About that time, brother Matt, who was already a guitar devotee, suggested that George should buy a cheap bass guitar and amp and give this instrument a whirl.  He did just that and dug in practicing for hours—as he did to become a DJ. When George visits Matt and Helen in Florida, in between rounds of golf, they jam at Guitar Center with the owner and a few of Matt’s friends.

Then came the “big time.” George and several of his musician buddies pooled their talent and ideas and the band Smokestack Lightning was born. They played Southern rock and the blues: Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Charlie Daniels Band and the like. The few times they rehearsed at the house—and loosened tiles on the kitchen floor—they played “Call Me the Breeze” just for me. By way of thanks, I served donuts and coffee.

One weekend, we went to the bar where the band was playing. We dressed the part and made quite an entrance. The Magnificent Seven strolled in wearing cowboy hats and leather jackets; Art wore an authentic black Stetson straight from Oklahoma—he could have been J.R. of “Dallas” fame.

Just before Christmas a few years later, George asked if I’d consider selling my keyboard. I didn’t want to do that, but an idea was born. Art thought it would be a great gift for him. I wish I’d captured the look on his face when he tore the paper off the box and saw what it contained. His talent and love of music then moved on to the keyboard—he is self-taught and very, very good. After months of practice—he doesn’t read music—he mastered Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer.”  Often, he will play at an open mike at a local sports bar—the keyboard or bass. 

I am amazed, proud and in awe of George’s talent and his dedication to and passion for music and these instruments; he has dabbled in creating his own music. I truly reap the benefits. When he visits, I am rewarded with a private concert and maybe a hint of what is his next triumph.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


An 'Air of Hypocrisy' at Town Hall

February 22, 2018

There is an air of hypocrisy blowing over Yorktown and it is coming from town hall. Over the past couple of weeks, I questioned the “temporary” hiring of the Oxman Law Group as legal counsel to Yorktown in a purported “interim” capacity. I have had comments of support and comments questioning my motivation. Rather than have people guess, I would like to be ...

The DACA Dilemma and the Trick of the Trickle-Down Theory

Here is our very own Sen. Charles Schumer on the Senate floor last week: “President Trump has stood in the way of a bipartisan solution to DACA, a problem he created in the first place, and yet the president is in this dream world. He thinks, ‘Oh, I can blame Democrats for the impasse.’ As I said, only in the 1984 world where up is down and black is white could this be true.

A Gold Medal for Jerry

Time advances at a relentless pace. It seems like life moves as though through a movie projector operating at triple speed. As Virgil commented, “It flies never to be regained.” We desperately try to slow its unyielding march by celebrating milestones: birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, weddings, etc. The hope is that we can somehow slow the process, take a breath and enjoy the ...

I Love 'I Hate Hamlet'

Let’s face it, folks. Not everyone loves Shakespeare. Not even all actors. Andrew Rally is one of them. In fact, where there’s a Will, there’s a way Andrew will find to avoid acting in one of those famously timeless plays. And for good reason. Shakespeare tests, to the fullest, an actor’s mettle, and Andrew is strictly a TV actor.

He has just ended a star turn in the ...

I Am Woman, Hair Me Roar

When you have short hair, it is inevitable that you will spend an inordinate amount of time growing your hair out and then getting fed up and cutting it again. I have been down this hair-brained road several dozen times before, complaining for months until I am convinced my husband is going to cut it all off while I sleep just so he doesn’t have to listen to me whine about it one more ...

Should Valentine's Day Be Celebrated at School?

Dear Dr. Linda,

I’ve been a third-grade teacher for over 20 years and have never allowed my students to celebrate Valentine’s Day in my class. I know my colleagues think I’m mean, but I’m refusing to celebrate it for many reasons.

1) Children hand out cards to each other and there’s always some child left out or who gets very few; 2) Children are always asked ...

Upcoming Events

Sun, February 25, 10:30 AM

Yorktown Heights

Kids Hamantash Bake

Religions And Spirituality

Mon, February 26, 7:00 PM

Yorktown Heights

Robert Kesten to speak on Property Taxes & ...


Mon, February 26, 7:00 PM

Westchester Collaborative Theater, Ossining

WCT Scene/Monologue Study Open For Enrollment Now

Arts & Entertainment Education Other

Red Cross blood shortage prompts urgent call for blood and platelet donations during National Blood Donor Month

February 23, 2018

This January, National Blood Donor Month, the American Red Cross has an urgent need for blood and platelet donors of all blood types to make an appointment to give now and help address a winter blood donation shortage.

Severe winter weather has had a tremendous impact on blood donations already this year, with more than 150 blood drives forced to cancel causing over 5,500 blood and platelet ...