Everyone talks about the benefits of playing music – how music makes you smarter.

But I want to talk about the famous people I’ve met because I play music.

Let’s see … there’s Plas Johnson. Who?? If you’ve ever heard the recording, “The Pink Panther,” that’s Plas sounding mysterious on tenor sax.Then there’s bop trombonist Bill Watrous, who was a clinician at the InterMountain Jazz Festival in Blackfoot earlier this month.How about Mic Gilllette of Tower of Power fame? He’s the screaming trumpet player on “You’re Still a Young Man.” (Wow!  Those TOP charts are tough!!)

I also played in a band that backed up Bob Newhart. Who??  If you don’t know who he is, ask your parents! Go to the link to see a picture of me and several of the guys in the band with Mr. Newhart. LINK One of my most embarrassing moments happened when Carol Channing, of Broadway and Hollywood fame, performed with The Modesto Band of Stanislaus County at a concert in the park a few years ago.Ms. Channing performed some of her signature numbers, including “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” and comedy shtick. Since “Diamonds” starts out unaccompanied, and, since I was sitting principle clarinet, I gave Ms. Channing her starting pitch. She turned around to thank me.Then she proceeded to tell the audience about the dress rehearsal the night before:

How she was standing between the conductor and myself.

How she apologized for blocking my view.And how I told her, “It’s OK. I don’t watch him anyway.”


Here is a picture of my husband, Mike, and me with Ms. Channing. It was taken last fall.  I had the privilege to play on a couple of tracks on her latest recording, “For Heaven’s Sake”.Another, even MORE embarrassing moment happened when I mistakenly walked into the late Maynard Ferguson’s dressing room before our concert! Who?? Maynard was the soaring trumpet player on “Gonna Fly Now,” the theme song of Sylvester Stallone’s first “Rocky” movie. (How was I to know he was using the Ladies Dressing Room for his pre-concert warm-ups!?)

Marilyn Borden was one half of The Borden Twins. Who?? Marilyn and her sister, Roz, made  TV appearances and performed regularly in Las Vegas. Probably their most famous bit happened on the TV classic, “I Love Lucy.” They appeared as twin sisters, “Teensy and Weensy.” Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjDYROYuB7w

Yes, they were told to sing off key! My friend Marilyn is on the left.I first met Marilyn at a jazz society meeting after she moved to Modesto. Her sister, Roz, recently had passed away. Marilyn decided to continue on as a solo act.

That decision was quite difficult for her, but she pushed ahead. Marilyn asked me if I had any ideas about who could help her. I suggested my friend and band leader Ernie Bucio. It took a while, but Marilyn finally hooked up with Ernie and began performing in the Modesto area.I was privileged to be on a few of those gigs, including her last performance Feb.14, 2009, at a “Music Through The Decades” concert to celebrate Modesto’s historic State Theater. Though she was ill at the time, Marilyn still brought down the house! She passed away just two months later.

As a wedding present (I was married Nov. 21, 2008), Marilyn gave me a set of pewter wine goblets that she and her late husband, Ted, bought on their honeymoon.  I shall treasure those goblets always.

I share all this with you, not so you will think I am some fabulous musician. The point is all the marvelous experiences and opportunities I’ve enjoyed because of music. There’s a wonderful world and wonderful people – the best people – waiting out there for you to join them. So, what are you waiting for?

Jim- Chesbro Music Co. expert