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Jay McKenney

“My connection to Mr O starts waaaaay back in 1974… he came to Ft. Fairfield as a new band teacher, and we loved him right away. So many kids wanted to join band, simply because they wanted to play for him.”

Former Student, Band member, Friend – Fort Fairfield – Class of 1982

Instrument: Drums, guitar, trumpet, baritone

Describe how music has impacted your life.
It’s hard to articulate the impact music has had on my life. From being 4 years old and hearing My Dad singing, “I Love You, Yea, yea, yea..” his take on The Beatles.. as I rode in the backseat of his car.. wind blowing through my hair.. not having a care in the world.. was I knew I was loved… and that I loved music already…

Describe your connection to Mr. O
My connection to Mr O starts waaaaay back in 1974…. it may have been ’75? But anyway, he came to Ft. Fairfield as a new band teacher, and we loved him right away.. so many kids wanted to join band, simply because they wanted to play for him.  He left for a few years to pursue his musical dreams/goals… but came back to us in 1981.

I was a senior in 1981-82, and had the privilege of playing drums for Mr. O in the Stage Band, Baritone in Regular Band.. drums in many combos he put together too.

In around March of 1982, Mr O asked me if I’d be interested in joining a band in Canada that he had recently joined.  I think they were using a drum machine at that point, and he thought I’d be a good fit.  Well… that started a journey that lasted 5 more years with him!!  Some of the Best Memories of My Life!!

Describe Mr. O in three words.
Incredible, Talented, Passionate

What is your most memorable story involving Mr. O?
My stories of Mr. O would literally fill volumes.. Oh My Word, you have no idea…  I could quite write an entire book about our Adventures from 1982-1986…  But I’ll share a super fun(ny) one here!

In the spring of 1983, we were making a record in Moncton NB.. it was a song our keyboardist wrote called “Last Summer.”  Side A was the English version, Side B was The French version.. which is quite impressive in and of itself.

A “Fun Fact:” there was a picture of Bryan Adams on the studio wall.. I asked who it was, and they said… “oh, you’ll be hearing a lot of this guy soon.. he just finished up his record here last week…” I thought, “pfft.. this guy doesn’t look like much.”  Within a month, I saw “Cuts Like A Knife” on MTV, and almost flipped…

Ok.. , after my totally “lame-o” drum track was recorded, (they had me do the intro cymbal roll like 20 times.. I was like… “wtw??’  Mr O was “up” for his turn to play his sax solo..  It was immaculate..beautiful incredible.  When he hit the “high” note at the end??  Yea.. he also dubbed in another part, so it was like 2 saxes.. so tremendous.. His musicianship.. flawless.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen/heard him make a mistake??

Anyway!  Nearing the end of the 12 hour recording session, we were thinking along the lines of “refreshments.”  BUT!!  There was a blizzard going on out in the streets of Moncton.. I remember being quite bothered by the less than favorable weather conditions, and thought I’d share my concerns with Mr. O.  He looked at me.. determination in his eyes.. pulling his Orange Maine Hunter’s Wool Hat onto his head.. down to his eyes..and said quietly, but fiercely …. “I’ll go….”

I stood at the 2nd floor studio window, watching this brave soul venture into the stormy night.. to the point where I could no longer see him.  I stood waiting, watching.. wondering..
Minutes seemed to hang like hours… UNTIL… I caught a faint glimpse of… could it be???  The Orange Hunters Cap!!  Here he comes!!  Covered, and trudging through knee high snow.. he sees me waving from the window… he stops.. (a big box under each arm),  Looks to the sky, and bellows out a victory cry!!!  Haha!!  I’m laughing as I’m typing this now!!!

Well, needless to say.. we made a pretty darn good record.. and thanks to Mr. O’s bravery.. we were able to kick back and relax.. enjoying our well earned refreshments!!!!

So many “inside” jokes… “The Maggot Diner” with the burnt pizza at 3 a.m. … “Bugs Bunny Ave”;…. “A Wimmer!”… “you would if you were Ewe-Man!!”  the poor fitting monitor cover in Van Buren that perplexed us…  “put fatigue down”… The Cassette Disaster of the Spark-o-Matic cassette player…  the “hot seat” in “ol Blue and White”… “Kelley Road”…  ol Blue and White’s “top speed” was discovered in Edmunston…   “We’re Losin’ ’em Dick!” The band outfits for “Enchanting Sounds”…  I could go on and on… music and laughter that will last a lifetime..

If you could ask Mr. O any question, what would it be?
I’d love to know all about his favorite musical memories!!  Like, what HE remembers about our old days together… but also, I’d love to hear about all he’s accomplished since leaving Fort.  I know a lot of it, but would love to hear more!

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