Down by the Riverside

Buoy tender Pathfinder 10-29-2013When I went to school back in Ohio, we had the Hocking River flowing through the campus (REALLY through it when it flooded every couple of years). I used to say, though, that to somebody who grew up on the Mississippi, the Hocking was barely a creek.

It was fun taking Ohio Curator Jessica down to the Mississippi at night. We happened to run into a couple of crewmen from the buoy tender Pathfinder who told us what it was like putting out the markers that keep the huge tows in the channel.

We heard music

We could hear music drifting over the floodwall. Jessica identified one of the sounds as coming from a trombone. She knew it was a trombone, she said, because she used to honk one.

I confessed that I could identify a drum or a cymbal on a good day; otherwise my knowledge of musical instruments was limited. “Is a trombone that horn with a slidey thing?” I asked.

I could hear her eyes rolling, even in the darkness.

The Crystal and Anna Serenade

Crystal Lander - Jackson and Anna Nice - Cape- 11-01-2013When we got up on Water Street, we ran into Crystal Lander of Jackson and Anna Nice of Cape doing some pickin’ and singing.

Showing my newly-acquired musical sophistication, I observed that a trombone was not involved in their impromptu performance.





12 Replies to “Down by the Riverside”

  1. I did notice on my last trip that musical types were hanging out around the river with picking and tooting going on as I watched the river. My guess is that the flood walls and the building form a nice echo chamber, like at shower stall and improve the sound. Of course, it could be just a nice place to sit and play. In either case the River is THE place to be in Cape.

  2. Dear Ken,

    I can relate to your Musical Instrument ignorance. My story of “Music Learnin” is a sad one as well. However, unlike you I do know the difference between the sounds of the instruments with the “Slidey Things” verses the ones with the “Stringy Things”.

    I never got the opportunity to get into the exclusive Band Fraternity in the Cape Public School system. Seems like in 3rd or 4th grade at Franklin we were called into the gym/cafeteria out of class one day for what I later realized was a music aptitude screening. I was very excited to learn to play an instrument because I envied seeing the big kids go into the band room and loved to hear them playing when I happened to walk by on the way to the restroom or taking the attendance forms to the office.

    They sat us all down at the lunch tables and gave us Pencils and paper. Then they played some adult sounding music over the PA system and asked us some questions about what we heard. When it was over we lined up to turn in our questionnaires. I recognized the music teacher sitting there and my neighbor Coach ‘Pug’ Russell was assisting. My heart was racing pretty good when I got to the table and handed them my pencil and paper. I couldn’t wait to hear if I would get to play one of those cool horns or maybe the drums – that would be really cool.

    The music teacher looked at my answers and made a few marks on the paper. Then he handed it to Coach Russell to file. “Next” he said so I moved to the side. I guess I was looking a little lost because Coach said ” what’s the problem William Bradley Brune?” He often called me by my full name like that. “When do we find out Coach” I managed to squeak out. He picked up my form and looked briefly at the music teachers remarks then patted me on the head. ” Don’t worry Bradley…. Brune’s are good at sports” he whispered under his breath and in my ear so others couldn’t hear.

    So that was the beginning and end of my “official Public School endorsed” musical instrument career. That was a sad day for me, and I still occasionally think about it.

    I did sing in choir all through school including at Central. Some of the tougher songs they would say, “just mouth that part Brune”. I enjoyed doing that but it wasn’t the same as actually making music with an instrument. Jr year of HS my mom did give me a cheap tenor 4 string guitar for my birthday (kind of a larger Arthur Godfrey Ukulele) and I painstakingly taught my self a few cords so I could play “Michael Row the Boat Ashore”.

    When the Brunes moved from Luce street to a newer house next to Alma Schrader Grade School in 1964 or 65, I was pleased to find I was neighbors with my childhood friend and neighbor from Franklin – Gary Fischer. Fish now lived across the street from the older “Lutheran kid” Dave Hahs – a cool band fraternity member who played the Trumpet.(That’s the Push Buttoney Thing Ken) I bet if my parents had payed the parochial school rate – I would have gotten to learn a musical instrument!

    As Dave became closer friends with Fish and me, we realized we all were learning to play stringed instruments. So of course we decided, “lets form a group!” We all were in choir together so we knew could sing a little and carry a tune. Of course Hahs (the Band guy)was the only one that could read music and the only one that could sing a vocal solo without embarrassing himself. Fish and I could carry a tune and harmonize from our choir training, and gradually we perfected 8-10 cords on our individual instruments.

    Parochial Music boy had a handmade 8 stringed Lute designed & constructed by a talented local artisan. Fish bought a state of the art Gibson steel string guitar just like local budding stars like Lou Hobbs, Billy Keys and many of the professionals on TV played. The guys encouraged me to “upgrade” my instrument so I wouldn’t embarrass the group. I chose an economically priced Yamaha 6 String Classic guitar. The strings were real soft and stretchy so they didn’t hurt my fingers so much as I learned what to do with the two extra strings. We bought some identical shirts and sweaters, and started to practice like crazy.

    Dave’s Mom got him a new pair of “Heritage Dress Shoes” for Easter Sunday, and as soon as we saw the name on the box we knew it was a sign from the music gods…. we became the Heritage Trio Folk Group! We stole songs from Peter, Paul & Mary, the Kingston Trio, the New Christy Minstrels, Woodie Guthrie, and many others who had songs with cool lyrics and very few cord changes. But we especially liked performing songs and routines from the Smother’s Brothers albums. Like them… we had one smart guy who could sing, and not one but two dumb guys to be the butt of all the jokes.

    Well, now all of your memories are coming back to you… and I’m sure you are remembering our storied career around Cape and Cape State College in the 1960s.

    (“Oh yea of course… they were the Heritage Trio!!”)

    We never made it to the “Green Onion” in San Francisco but we helped bring the “Hootenanny” to Southeast Missouri. We played all over Semo’s campus at Hootenannies, parties and talent shows. We toured the Service Club lunch circuit (the Rotarian’s even had us back twice), we played private parties when the “Coffee House Theme” was cool, and we made several appearances on KFVS TV’s The Breakfast Show. We just knew all of SE Missouri and Southern Illinois got up at 5:30 AM on those mornings to enjoy a little Folk Music with their coffee and Tang. We even got to preform “Down By the River” at some Fraternity parties. For a short while we were definitely “sort of well know and sought after” locally, though no-one ever seemed to recognize us without our instruments and matching crew-neck sweaters.

    Possibly the high-light of our career was being the Musical entertainment and Comic Relief (during costume changes)for the heralded Miss Cape Girardeau Beauty Pageant in 1969 – performing for the live televised and packed to the rafters audience in the Arena Building. It was hosted by none other than famous TV Star and weatherman Don McNeely. I’m sure many of you are now remembering attending, or watching live on one of the “One Third of all the TV stations in the huge Tri-State area” … (well on KFVS), and/or reading our rave reviews in the Missourian Newspaper the next day.
    We had finally made it to the top … before the call of the Vietnam War and the US Navy pulled us apart and broke up the group.

    Now, in my declining semi-retired years – dog Olivia and I frequently take walks at Memorial Park, both Lorimiers, Fairmount and St. Mary’s Cemetery’s.

    Why would you spend your precious “Brune Time” doing this you may ask?
    Well it’s really simple:
    a. I don’t usually have to put her on a leash,
    b. I can puff on a fine cheap cigar,
    c. the parks are beautifully manicured,
    d. I find it a very peaceful stroll,
    e. plus I get to visit with my relatives and our many family friends and acquaintances that rest there.

    It is a little disturbing that I am now finding more and more of my friends and contemporaries there also, but it’s still nice to catch up and reminisce.

    Anyway, the other day I came upon the grave marker for my old friend and mentor Coach Jack W. Pug Russell. Coach passed in 2003 at the age of 80. As is my ritual I said a little prayer for him, told him how much I cared for him, and how much I appreciated his life and the positive impact he had had on me and so many others. As I started to walk away I stopped and turned back.
    I said, “Hey coach, remember in grade school when you told me not to worry about my not being musically inclined…. and that Brune’s were good at sports? Well, I guess I proved you wrong ….. turns out I wasn’t that good at sports either.”

    As always… these “membrances” are from my declining and suspect memory…. and I could be wrong.


  3. Great story. In our cabin in Colorado I have a file cabinet of memorabilia going back to kindergarten. So I’m up here in CO this week, reading Brad’s email to me regarding this story and decided to climb around in the attic. And there it is- a full color, 8×10 of The Heritage Trio. I thought I would scan it, but my scanner only connects with a USB cable. And I have no cables (out here in the deep woods) for my iPad. I’m sure Brad, David and Gary have a copy of this shot of them in performance mode. If not, I’ll be happy to scan it when I return to AZ. Good times, those were!

    1. As a fellow Kindergarten classmate of David Hahs, I remember David in the Fall of 1965 playing folk music with his string instrument at the Freshman talent show in Memorial Union. Did he get the high school backup? It was years later that I learned that I could not listen to music and dance at the same time. Ha!

    1. Brad did a great job.

      I shot my first photo with an iPad a few days ago. My Droid phone takes photos, too, but I never think to use either of them for taking pictures.

      I guess I figure that if a picture is worth taking, it’s worth using a real camera. Of course, I’m rarely without a real camera.

  4. You keep praising him he will write a book and try and sell it on your site………..hum, maybe that is what is going on here………smart man.

  5. As a fellow kindergarten classmate with David Hahs, I was impressed in the Fall of 1965 at SEMO with David doing at a freshman talent show of some great folk music lead on a stringed instrument. Did you all back him up? It was in the Memorial Union. Maybe the weekly Capaha Arrow covered it.

  6. Yes Don Neumeyer,

    That was the Heritage Trio in the Freshman Talent Show in 1965 at Cape State College. We performed at numerous events at Academic and Memorial Halls through the years. I know the Capaha Arrow covered some of them, and I am certain there are several pictures of us in the Sagamore Year Books.

    Gary and I were still Seniors at CHS in 65, but Dave would have been a Freshman that year. And for sure we were the self taught public school hacker-backup singers behind the exceptionally talented, well known, and Parochial School Trained Musician& Performer that was David Luther Hahs. “Moby the whale” (as his adoring fans called him) also went on to be the featured first chair Trumpet Player in the World Famous Golden Eagles Marching Band that was featured on national TV numerous times performing half-time shows at major university’s and professional NFL Teams.

    Leroy Mason, the heralded Golden Eagle Band Director and Marching Halftime Architect, often was quoted as saying “recruiting and signing the great “Parochially Trained” David Hahs was the key to the unprecedented renown and success I and the Golden Eagles enjoyed in the late 1960’s.”

    I’m just proud to have played a small part in Dave’s glorious musical career. We were the “Pips” to his “Gladys Knight”!!

  7. Heart and soul come together beautifully in this musical memoir. I think your lyrical talents eclipse your musical talents, Mr. Brune. What would really be cool is if we could actually “hear” some of the performances. Is there a tape, by chance?

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