Bringing the Music Back to Skippack
Remembering music is like remembering the warmth of the sun, for which we are likely to long by January in Skippack. I remember one group, called Shades of Silver, that performed regularly at one of our fine establishments in Skippack. They played jazz; tunes made famous by Chuck Mangione, Wayne Shorter, John Coltrane, for example, as well as other styles — latin, seventies funk, contemporary hits. Shades of Silver featured a charismatic lead guitar player with a shaved head named Scot Silver.
One day, suddenly enough, Scot and his band disappeared.
Shades of Silver no longer plays gigs in Skippack. The smooth, jazzy chords are no longer to be heard here. I must be content with hearing the music of Scot Silver, his guitar and his band, in my memory.
The floor was handed to party and dance bands that, on a good night, can pack the house. Party and dance bands are wonderful, too. Our town needs their lively energy. But I miss hearing Scot’s complex, sophisticated chord progressions in my local town.
For many months, I regretted not having had the chance or taken the time to speak to and learn more about Scot Silver, the jazz guy who disappeared.
An Opportunity is Handed to Me
Early last spring, Skippack activities coordinator Megan Clemmer called, asking me to recommend local jazz bands to play in Skippack’s annual Summertime Concert Series, which she was planning at the time. I gave her three names; the other two were the Dirk Quinn Band and A Swinging Affair, both of which I hope to write about in future blog posts.
Scot Silver and his band Shades of Silver were selected. The disappearing jazz guy was to reappear. A beautiful poster was created to herald the event.
I looked forward to the concert, albeit with a slight nervousness. I knew that Shades of Silver wouldn’t pack the field across the Basta Pasta in the manner of locally-well-known pop star tribute bands, like U2 Nation or the Mango Men. Tribute bands are the staple of our summertime concert series. But I felt, and I think Megan agreed, that Skippack would benefit if the village played host to a variety of musical genres.
The concert took place last June. The size of the crowd was respectable. Shades of Silver offered up a variety of music: jazz, pop, latin, funk, featuring Scot on guitar and vocals by Christine Dragon. Let the music speak for itself. Here are a few minutes caught on video.
A couple hours of music and enjoyment pass quickly. The concert ended. It was done.
Because Skippack is a town that lives and dies on events, it is heresy for me to say this, but events by their very nature are temporary and, once they end, may leave a slight aftertaste of emptiness. The crowd wandered off. The vendors folded up their tables. Scot Silver, the disappearing jazz guy, and his music, were gone again.
I Create My Own Opportunity
Being a community blogger will never bring me riches, but it does grant one great privilege; an opportunity, an excuse if you will, to reach out to people. Blogging is a form of writing tied to social media, and social media is meant to connect people. I sent Scot an email, asking him if he would like to meet me in Skippack, so I could interview him and record some additional video for a blog post. The result is the article you are reading now.
Scot came to visit in Skippack on a fine September day. He is a full-time professional musician. He majored in classical guitar at West Chester University, and supplemented his classical training with private lessons from a jazz master before and after graduation. He founded and runs two music schools, is featured on several recordings, and fronts a number of bands, in a variety of styles.
A musician who lives by his craft must have the energy level of an entrepreneur as well as the sensibility of an artist. Scot is a man on the move, eager to please, and looking ahead. His manner of speaking is alert, alive, characteristic of one who creates his own path. We talk about the challenges of being a full-time, professional musician. I then ask Scot his impressions of our village.
“Skippack has an absolute force of community that you can just feel walking thru the town,” says Scot. “It’s in everything from the events they hold, the festivals, people shaking your hand on the street, a smile; there’s a friendliness that envelops you as you enter the town: it should be more like this in other places.
“It’s all about community. That’s what keeps music flourishing. That’s what keeps education flourishing.”
Shades of Silver’s summertime concert and hanging out with Scot are two great memories made in Skippack. The best memories often involve music. My hope is that our village will always offer dedicated, professional musicians like Scot a place to play. Good music makes a great town. And great towns welcome good music.
Bonus Videos: Exclusively for People Who Love Skippack
I asked Scot to play a jazz standard. Here is his rendition of Blue Skies by Irving Berlin.
Here is an original tune titled “Forever Dreamin’.”