Tag Archives: Peanuts

An Afternoon With the Musical Marcellino Family

4 Dec

This semester at Cumberland University, I taught History of American Music, which is the proper name for the School of Rock. I started with the music that inspired the early Rock n’ Roll stars and followed the evolution of that genre through the decades. We covered everything.

At the end of several classes, Michaela, one of my best students, said that her dad and granddad knew who we had discussed. At some point, I said that they needed to talk to the class. Well, a few weeks ago they did just that and told a lot of amazing stories.

Her grandfather Jerry Marcellino has had an amazing career. He began as a musician and was the opening act for a lot of established artists. Heck, he was on tour with Jerry Lee Lewis when the world found out that he was married to his 13-year-old cousin.

Jerry’s career as a musician did not work out, but he made his way into producing and songwriting. This began with his relationship with members of Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass and continued until he worked for Berry Gordy at Motown. In that job, he worked with Michael Jackson, The Supremes, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson and The Commodores.

The students really like his stories about Michael Jackson. They used to draw cartoons and trade with each other during recording breaks. Michael also pranked called Jerry, but he always knew it was Michael.

Michaela’s dad Yochanan Marcellino grew up around all of those people and eventually made his way into the musical profession as a manager. Through the years, he worked with Kansas, Jose Feliciano, Chaka Kahn, Lou Rawls and the Captain and Tennille. He is now a movie producer and is working on a film about Rocky Marciano.

However, they are not the only Marcellinos who have made an impact in the music business.

Muzzy Marcellino was a fantastic whistler who whistled for John Wayne in The High and the Mighty and who can be heard whistling in Hugo Montenegro’s version of the The Good, the Bad and the Ugly theme.

Jocko Marcellino was an original member of Sha Na Na and performed at Woodstock.

Dennis Marcellino was a member of Sly and the Family Stone.

Vince Guaraldi, whose mother was a Marcellino, wrote themes for the Peanuts cartoons.

In short, Michaela’s family lived the storied that I had been telling in class all semester. It was a true honor to meet them and have them talk to my class.

 

D.C. Road Trip – Peanuts and Whiskey

21 Jul

Last week, my family left on the grand Washington, D.C. adventure that we had been planning for a long time. I wanted to go on a road trip like the ones my family took when I was a kid. My wife did not want to go too far because she and my stepdaughter had never done anything like that before.

Originally, we were driving to D.C. before going north to Pennsylvania to visit some of their family. As it turned out, they were going to Washington for a conference, and we all decided to meet there. With that change, my wife and I decided to skip Pennsylvania and go to Virginia Beach. That way, we could spend some time in the sun before heading home. Oh yeah, Williamsburg and Jamestown are close by, as well.

During the days leading up to the trip, I was nervous about a couple of things.

First, I did not know much about the area. Driving west, I know the distances, the things to see and, generally, how to plan an efficient and easy trip. While I have been to Virginia, it was not to see something. Basically, I was not sure where we were headed.

Second, I had never spent three days sightseeing in a major city. Most of the road trips in my past avoided major cities and focused on the smaller places in the country. We booked a room downtown because we thought walking to some places would be the best option.

Third, I wanted my family to have a good time. Growing up, I loved these kinds of trips because they felt like an adventure. I knew that they had never done anything like this, and I wanted them to have a good experience.

We left Tuesday morning and hit Interstate 40. Everything was great. My stepdaughter was reading and listening to music. My wife was looking at Facebook. I was cruising down the road. We had packed some snacks to eat along the way. It was fun. We made fun of my wife because she had to stop to pee every few miles. It came a flood in Knoxville, but that was the only downer.

When we got close to the Tennessee/Virginia border, we decided to stop for lunch, and that is when we saw the first cool sight of the trip.image-7

Seriously, how often do you see the Peanut-Mobile. This is one of the reasons I like road trips. If we had flown to D.C., then we would have never seen the big peanut. That may sound dumb, but it represents a lot of stuff. Flying from city to city means that you miss the landscape of the nation. It means that you miss the laughs along the way.

After lunch, we made our way into Virginia and to our destination for the night – Lynchburg. I chose this town for a couple of reasons. First, it set us up for our first stop the next day. Second, it got us off the interstate. The worst thing anyone can do is stay on the interstate the entire time. It is designed to get vehicles from place to place quickly. It is not designed as a sightseeing road. If you want to see real America, then you have to get off the interstates. Every exit looks the same.

We got off the interstate and drove toward Lynchburg. At some point, we had the following conversation.

Me: What is Lynchburg famous for?

My Wife: I know! Whiskey!

Me: That is Lynchburg, Tennessee.

We laughed about that for the rest of the trip. Actually, Lynchburg, Virginia is famous for being home to Jerry Falwell and Liberty University, the school that he created. Believe me, the university dominates the town. I do not know what the people in Lynchburg think of Falwell, but they had better be glad he put the school there.

When we checked into the hotel, we asked about a good place for dinner. My stepdaughter decided to stay in the room, but my wife and I needed to find a good place to eat and relax. We were told to go to a place downtown. It turned out to be a casual place that specialized in burgers. It was a great place for college students to hang out, and, surprisingly for summer, there were a lot of them hanging out.

They struck me as students who are into the arts – both Fine Arts and Liberal Arts. That may sound like profiling, but, after all these years, I am pretty good at determining who majors in what. Anyway, they were eating, talking and drinking. That made me think about Jerry Falwell. He was famous as a televangelist and the leader of the Moral Majority. I wonder what he would think about students at his university sitting around drinking in a bar.

After dinner, we drove through downtown and found a cool little city. They had done a great job with historic preservation, and there were shops and restaurants scattered out. There was also a children’s playhouse and other cool stuff. That is one of the other good things about going on a road trip. You get to discover towns like Lynchburg – both this one and the one that makes whiskey.

On Twitter, I asked a Lynchburg trivia question that no one answered. What movie moved our nation’s capital from Washington, D.C. to Lynchburg, Virginia? Does anyone know?