S E C T I O N
January 26, 2011 ■ News of local people and events in the community.
A BAND OF DADS
Menlo Park dads find a way to have fun and help the community By Kate Daly Special to the Almanac
hat do middle-age guys do for fun? Some play golf every week while others may bike or play poker. Six dads in Menlo Park have found their weekly formula for fun: rocking and rolling in a garage on San Mateo Drive. The Members is a garage band made up of men in their 40s and 50s who used to play in bands when they were younger, but went on to pursue careers in other fields. They all have day jobs, are married, and had let music slide to the background for the most part. Then, five years ago, after the original four dads met through their kids’ activities and found they shared a mutual interest in playing music, they decided to form a band. They called themselves The Shivering Members because it was so cold in February when they started to rotate around to each other’s garages. Now that they have added two more musicians to the mix, they simply call themselves The Members and practice in the same garage every week.
They perform for free at about eight events a year. For the second year in a row, the band will be playing at the Sacred Heart Preparatory Booster Club’s cioppino dinner for more than 250 people at the school on Jan. 29. Two of the band members, Rod Scherba and Jeff Bird, have children at the school. The band’s sound engineer, Steve Dunne of Portola Valley, is a former SHP parent and the only empty nester in the bunch. Mr. Scherba estimated the band has raised about $100,000 over the years playing at various local charity events, parties, picnics, dances and dinners “for fun, charity and community.” “We don’t charge because we want to help the community,” he said, specifying the band does no weddings, bar mitzvahs, or funerals. “We try to make sure events will raise a pretty substantial sum of money because while it’s a labor of love for us, it can be very time consuming,” he explained. All of the band members sing and play instruments so their play list features some 90 titles with a lot of vocals and harmonies,
including songs by The Eagles, Rolling Stones, and more contemporary groups such as Green Day, Counting Crows, Foo Fighters and Goo Goo Dolls. When original band member Roger Inman described their repertoire as “eclectic,” he could also be talking about himself. The band plays in his garage, which is filled with gear from Interweave Production Group, his audio and technical business for corporate clients and broadcast television. Right after the SHP gig he’s dashing off to go work for Fox Sports on the Super Bowl. Mr. Inman plays rhythm guitar and percussion in the band. He started playing piano when he was 9, the drums in high school, and then picked up the guitar later on, taking lessons when his kids went to school. He met Mr. Scherba through their kids’ kindergarten. Mr. Scherba plays lead guitar, an instrument he has been playing since he was 16. He works for Cornish & Carey in commercial real estate. Rich Johnson works for California Mortgage and Realty. He has played the bass since he was 14 and now plays harmonica and
Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac
Members of the band are, from left, lead guitarist Rod Scherba, keyboard player Scott Wachorst, rhythm guitarist Roger Inman, drummer Allen Weiner, bassist Rich Johnson, lead vocalist Jeff Bird and sound engineer Steve Dunne. In the cover photo, lead vocalist Jeff Bird, right, and rhythm guitarist Roger Inman practice the Stones’ “Brown Sugar” in Birds garage. Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac.
pedal steel guitar, too. He met fellow founding band member, Allen Weiner, when their sons were soccer teammates on the Strikers. Mr. Weiner is the drummer. He works at Stanford Law School and admitted he would play drums for a living “if you could guarantee a decent income.” He has been playing drums since elementary school, but sold his drum set when he went off to college and didn’t play for 20 years until joining this band of dads. Both of Mr. Weiner’s sons are musical and have jammed with the band on occasion. One son plays bassoon in the Peninsula Youth Orchestra and electric bass guitar. The other plays saxophone and does vocals. Mr. Bird is The Members’ lead vocalist and guitarist when he’s not working as a venture capitalist for Sutter Hill Ventures. Mr. Johnson said he was attending a fundraiser and “Jeff Bird was there in his Tom Petty outfit, in top hat and tails, and I invited him in to the band.” The latest addition to the band is Dr. Scott Wachorst, a neurosurgeon at El Camino Hospital. He plays keyboards and does vocals but sometimes misses rehearsals because he has to make rounds at
night, plus he has younger kids. “It’s getting harder to practice,” Mr. Johnson observed, because there are so many conflicts. Halloween night would seem to be one, but The Members have turned it into a neighborhood event that includes their families. The band started out playing for the kids in the area three years ago, and now the concert has become a block party with a couple of hundred people milling around Oakdell Drive and Lemon Street. Mr. Dunne works for Verizon Business and usually focuses on sound for the band, but he said he enjoyed singing and playing guitar at the most recent Halloween party. When asked how the families feel about the band members spending so much time together, he joked, “Our wives are our groupies.” Mr. Johnson said one of the biggest benefits of playing with friends is “if I am grumpy from work, I go home happier. Playing music is a good stress reliever. ... It’s like being back in the frat boy days. It takes you back to simpler times.” A
Visit membersbandmenlopark.com for more information about the band and to hear some of their songs.
January 26, 2011 N The Almanac N 17
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18 N The Almanac N January 26, 2011
C O M M U N I T Y
Did fire chief put TV show appearance ahead of responding to an accident? By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer
here is little or no disagreement from Menlo Park Fire Protection District Chief Harold Schapelhouman on the facts in a Jan. 18 e-mail sent to the Almanac from the firefighters union president. The e-mail criticizes the chief’s decision to hold back a fire crew from responding to a nearby accident that involved a young bicyclist. A 911 call came in at 3:37 p.m. on Oct. 25, 2010, about an accident at Santa Cruz Avenue and Johnson Street in Menlo Park. A Station 6 crew was in the firehouse kitchen on Oak Grove Avenue a few blocks from the accident, but Chief Schapelhouman, who was also there, told the crew to stay put and let the call go to Station 4 at Alameda de las Pulgas and Valparaiso Avenue. He had declared the Station 6 crew as “out of service.” A TV crew from the ABC affiliate Channel 7 was there to capture a live feed of the firefighters, in the firehouse kitchen, demonstrating the best place for a kitchen fire extinguisher. The Station 4 crew arrived at the accident scene in four minutes and 16 seconds, Chief
Schapelhouman said, adding that while the distance may have added a minute or two to the response time, it was well under the required maximum of six minutes and 59 seconds. The victim in the accident, a 17-year-old girl on a bike and wearing a helmet, collided with a vehicle at a bike speed of 2 mph and fell off, Chief Schapelhouman said. Since she was an unaccompanied minor, by law she had to be taken to the hospital; she complained of leg and hip pain, the chief said. Her injuries were such that the ambulance did not use flashing lights or sirens and drove at normal speeds, he said. The Station 6 crew were closest and should have handled the call, said Ed Hawkins, the president of San Mateo County Firefighters IAFF Local 2400, which represents Menlo Park district firefighters and has been in a long dispute with the district over contract conditions. “Firefighters are mothers and fathers, too,” Mr. Hawkins said in an e-mail. “We find it very frustrating that a fire chief could determine that his appearance on TV was more important than providing care to a juvenile who was hit by a car.”
In an interview, Mr. Hawkins said that he had heard an account of the incident from a member of the Engine 6 crew, and that the topic had come up in several meetings since October. “An incident like that is really the kind of thing that drives these guys crazy,” Mr. Hawkins said. “Their morale just crashes. These guys just want to go out there and get the job done.” The TV crew had arrived about two hours ahead of time to set up the shooting, and the fire crew had been designated as “out of service” for a total of 22 minutes, the chief said. The 911 call came about four minutes into the demonstration, the chief said. Fire crews are declared out of service frequently to undergo training or testing or attend meetings, the chief said. Being a firefighter “is not all about emergency response,” he added. “Public education is a big part of it.” Chief Schapelhouman said in a later interview that he has informed the district Board of Directors about this e-mail from the firefighters union and that he was open to an investigation and peer review of his actions that day. “I think that’s a good public process,” he said. A