Middlebury Magazine, Spring 2001, pp 14-15. Story by Rachel Morton, photograph by Andrew Corrigan '02
A lot has been said about the Middlebury community -- the way faculty are involved in the College and the lives of their students, the way students participate in their residences and Commons -- but all these words took a very audible and physical form one day recently, when a rock and roll band turned up its amps and began singing at Atwater Commons.
There were no pools of beer on the floor, no joints, no ecstasy. The band sang in front of a big fireplace and next to a table loaded with fresh strawberries with powdered sugar for dipping, soft brie, crunchy crudites, and warm apple cider. Oh, and rice cripsy treats for the kids. Yes, this rock concert had an active, vocal, sub-five-year-old fan base. And why not? The band members are their fathers: Daniel Scharstein, assistant professor of mathematics and computer science, on drums; Stephen Abbott, assistant professor of mathematics and computer science, on keyboard and vocals; Carlos Velez-Blasini, associate professor of psychology, on drums and percussion; Will Nash, assistant professor of American literature and civilization, on bass guitar; Fred Lower, a painting teacher at Rutland High School, on lead guitar.
Meet the Doughboys -- Middlebury's premier faculty rock band. Formed two years ago and named through an accidental glitch when Spell-checker changed an e-mail reference to the Doobie Brothers to the Doughboy Brothers. It so delighted the band members that they began referring to themselves as the Doughboys, and the rest is rock and roll history.
Today as they warm up in the sun-splashed lounge of Coffrin Hall, faculty and students mingle around the refreshment table, and children look shyly around at the big kids. When the band begins, the beat is surprisingly hard, and the band is crisp and tight, so it only takes a few minutes before the children leave their mothers' warm laps, venture out into mid-floor, and begin a few tentative hops.
Many of these songs are written by Stephen Abbott, and they reflect his child-focused phase of life -- the phrase "child monitor" is actually heard in the lyrics of one.
But when the band gets in the groove with "Black Magic Woman," and the lead guitar does its snakey Latin line and the dueling drums build up to a crashing climax, the room crackles with energy and excitement. The students bop in place, the gray-hairs sing along, remembering this song when it first came out, and the children let loose, shrieking and sliding along the wood floor in their socks. The Middlebury family -- young and old, faculty and student, town and gown -- come together for a thumpingly good, winter afternoon boogey.