“Music and singing have been a part of my life since my earliest memories. My father was one of the world’s foremost professional harmonica players (working under the stage name of Stagg McMann). My early folk music influences were those acts my father worked with while the house emcee at the “Hungry i” in San Francisco. I grew up backstage listening to, and trying to emulate, the “ Limeliters”, “Peter, Paul & Mary”, “The Kingston Trio”, “Stan Wilson” and many, many, others. It was an amazing, interesting and stimulating environment.
My first professional show came as a surprise. I was a junior in high school and had been singing around school with a couple of seniors (Terry Ross and Gary Cartwright). One day Terry told me that he had booked a job at a local club, the “Monkey Room” in Hayward, California. It paid $75.00! That was a lot of money for 1961. Our group called ourselves the ‘Weekenders’. It should have been spelled the ‘Weak Enders’. We were just horrible with our covers of then popular groups. The good outcome, however, was that Terry and I continued to work on our newfound craft, and ‘Pat & Terry’ was born.
For the next eight months, our duo improved and sang wherever anybody would lend us an ear. If we got paid, it was even better. These efforts included small coffee houses and various house parties throughout the San Francisco bay area. Terry, however, left for the University of Washington. The initial plans were for me to follow the next year. It didn’t happen. While I did sing with a trio from time to time, I spent my senior year in high school developing my solo singing skills.
In the fall of 1963 it was off to Franklin & Marshall College (Lancaster, PA). There I met, and teamed up with a banjo player and singer, Al Michaels. This was a good meld of talents, but a real clash of personalities, and only lasted about six months. I was now a solo act. During the years from 1964 through 1967 I sang at every coffee house and every hootenanny in the south central Pennsylvania area that I could find. Audiences ranged from about ten, at a show at Immaculata College, to about three thousand at Longs Park in Lancaster. I sang in contests, at birthday parties, at restaurants, and even at a Moose Hall in Danbury, PA, (through a local booking agent I was using then). My last show during this period was at a church coffee house in San Antonio, Texas, while in the National Guard and training at Fort Sam Houston. I returned to Lancaster, PA, in the late fall of 1967 and took up my professional life as a bank management trainee. Singing was just not compatible with being a banker.
In 1979, after returning to graduate school to earn my masters and PhD degrees in marketing, I relocated to the Boston area. As a professor I could once again sing in front of people without jeopardizing my career. After about six months of practice, I started out small, singing at the “Sword & Stone” on Beacon Hill, and then the “Nameless Coffeehouse” in Cambridge. Things were going well until a serious accident stopped it all.
One morning, an attempt to open a window (which was painted shut) ended with a cut about one-third of the way through my right wrist. Two surgeries and 101 stitches followed. But, after six months of recovery, I found that, due to nerve damage, I could not play my guitar. I could not feel the strings.
Next, flash forward to the summer of 2001. I was back in Lancaster teaching at Millersville University and an old friend from my college days said, ‘Why don’t you start singing again?’ After years of use my fingers had developed new nerve pathways and it was possible to ‘relearn’ how to play the guitar. It took about a year, but the result was that I play much better now than I ever did. A new guitar (steel strings for the first time) was purchased and I was back on stage again. However, it is the new, improved version! Still singing after all these years!”