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We Are Family
Written By: Tish Michel
*Click images below to view larger versions.
We Are Family
Michael’s family, dad Gene, Aunt Pat, wife Michelle & son Noah, were happy to be a part of Music For Michael Day at Coconuts Beach Bar & Grill.
We Are Family
Michael Tracey White, ca. 2001 at BJ’s.
We Are Family
Music scholar MTW, ca. 2004.
    I’m writing this column on Labor Day and what a day I’ve had reminiscing with friends and thinking about the wonderful family of musicians who provide so much joy to this beach town community.  When I think of blood family and music in Ocean City, my first thought goes to the members of Coconut Times’ most recent recipients of the Entertainers of the Year award - Tranzfusion.  You have brothers Bobby and Tom Malaby on drums and bass as well as vocals.  And there is the entire Davis clan.  Bob Davis plays keyboard, bass and vocals.  Josh Davis is Bob’s eldest son and he plays rhythm guitar and bass and wrote all the songs on their most recent album, Lotus.  Bob’s other two children, Mardi and Will, are most talented teens; they provide the horn section when Tranzfusion plays at M.R. Ducks.  Bob’s wife Becky will occasionally get up and help with backup vocals and I understand that Josh’s one-year-old son has his own guitar, so I’m sure he’ll be joining Tranzfusion someday.  I am so looking forward to October 9 when the Malaby brothers, Davis family and, of course, vocalist and lead guitarist Hank Konig will provide the first show of the season of my TUUC Concert Series in north Baltimore.
    Another family team is Opposite Directions.  Darin Engh, owner of Beach Music, and his brother-in-law Bob Wilkinson have been providing us with outstanding acoustic music for more than 20 years and I just love how their families come to support them and other musicians in this town.  Darin Engh and Chris Button are helping to insure that our musicians‚ children continue in their parent’s footsteps as they provide lessons through Beach Music.  Michelle Schachter told me this weekend that her older daughter Sammie is so enjoying her lessons with Darin.
    Have you heard Marcella Peters and her step Dad Sean O’Brien?  They are both beautiful to see and hear. Sean was guitarist for Mary Lou and the Untouchables for many years.  He and Marcella have mostly performed at Galaxy 66 this summer and are quite a delight!  Wes Davis and his lovely daughter Natalie have been performing at the Globe and other places around town this summer.  I first met Natalie last winter at Kevin Poole’s talent search at Fager’s Island. Be sure to catch both of these father/daughter duos next time you see them listed in our Who’s Where When section.
    Now I mentioned the Malaby brothers with Tranzfusion. There are another set of brothers that can really knock my socks off.  I’m talking about Tim and Mike Armstrong of The Mood Swingers.  Did you catch their show on the beach with Lauren Glick the last week of August?  It was fabulous!  Seems like they are booked at least once a month at BJ’s so I hope to see you there.
    Now I’ve said it for years but today really reinforced my view that blood or no blood, our musical community is family and I love how they all support one another.  Our dear friend Michael Tracey White passed away four years ago this past weekend and we celebrated his life today at Coconuts Beach Bar & Grill.  Just about every musician in town who didn’t have a gig elsewhere showed up to take part in MUSIC FOR MICHAEL DAY.  From the time Michael was a teen on up until his death, he played at just about every venue around with just about every musician in town.  Michael was a musicians musician, if you know what I mean.  He played numerous instruments and could play just about anything with anyone and he made us all have a such a great time with his own special brand of entertainment.
    Joe Mama has kept in touch with Michael’s family and wrote them about this event.  Michael’s beloved mom, Arleen White, was unable to come today but we were delighted that his Dad, Gene, came with Michael’s wife, Michelle, and their nine-year-old son, Noah Michael.  Ant Pat also came and told me to be sure and spell aunt the way Michael always did as a child so I’ll refer to this charming lady as Ant Pat.
    Randy Lee Ashcraft acted as host and soundman today and did a great job organizing and making sure most everyone had a chance to play.  The day started off with Randy’s full band so we had great entertainment right from the start!  John Heinz joined in with Randy’s Saltwater Cowboys (Mickey, Leo, Ken & Jimmy) with his fine fiddle.  Ant Pat shared a little story with me about one of the members of Randy’s band.  She has just this year retired from many many years of teaching and informed me that Randy’s guitarist, “little Jimmy” Rowbottom, was in her class when he was in second grade.
    I first met Michael back in the ‘80s when he was drummer for a band called Chest Pains.  Michael’s nickname then was Bam Bam.  This group disbanded long ago and its members met up at Michael’s funeral.  Byron Anthony and Jeff Davis got to talking and decided to reform the group adding Chris Button and Joe Mama.  Wow - they have had half a dozen or so shows this summer and are simply sensational.  They provided the next set of music honoring Michael.
    After Chest Pains, John LaMere and Chris Button joined Joe Mama and they added other musicians to the mix for a song or two.  Lucky Lindy from Blue Sky and his sax player, Ray Cannon,  joined in on the fun as well as Michelle Schachter (Full Circle), Darin Engh, and Frank DelPiano (drums).  Michael loved rockabilly and Elvis Presley songs so it was most fitting when Darin sang “That’s All Right Momma.” Darin also said volumes about Michael in one short sentence - “Michael was a true musician to the core.”
    One highlight of the day for Michael’s family was when Bobby Wilkinson played and Brenda Golden so beautifully sang “Fly Me to the Moon.”  Bobby teamed up with Joe Smooth for Mondays at Coconuts after Michael’s death.  Michael taught Bobby to play that Sinatra tune and Bobby and Joe have ended every Monday afternoon gig with that tune honoring their dear friend.
    Oh, I’m about out of space so let me just mention some of the other musicians who shared their talents today.  Thank you Lauren Glick, Linda Sears and Billie Carlins for your beautiful vocals! Wayne Jordan often came to hear Michael and shared some Irish melodies with us.  I must also mention that the ever so talented Chris Button played keyboard much of the day - what a treat!
    Ant Pat and Noah came up to the mic to thank everyone for their gift of music and for folks coming over to their table all day to share special Michael stories.  Music for Michael Day meant a great deal to his family as it did to all of us.  Let’s keep an eye out for young Noah Michael White as Ant Pat told me that just this week he was assigned the drums at his school.
    I’ve got one more story for you.  Please allow me to quote the last paragraph from my Remembering Michael article in September ‘07.  “This was a wonderful way for our musical community to get together in a casual and relaxed atmosphere and enjoy the comradery at the close of a long and busy season.  This was a wonderful way to pay our respect to one of Ocean City’s musical treasures.  And boy, would our Michael have loved the day.  Matter of fact, I believe he was with us.  I kid you not!  At the beginning of the day, Patricia Smith put out two pictures of Michael.  It was not a windy day yet the bigger of the two photos kept falling over on the ledge.  In less than 30 seconds after Joe and Harry finished the last song and ended the event, there was a huge crash.  You guessed right, this time the picture fell off the ledge and the breaking glass sounded much louder than you’d expect breaking glass to sound.  Honestly, I’ll bet everyone in the crowded place heard that picture break.  I’d like to think it was Professor Michael sending us a message: “Hey guys, this was awesome, I love you all, thanks so much, see ya!”
    Yes indeed, my friends, yet again I kid you not - when Randy closed the show today, the big picture fell to the ground again. I get goose bumps just thinking about it!
    Music lovers like me have found a wonderful home in Ocean City with our oh so special family of musicians. Thanks to all our wonderful musicians for a great summer of music and thank you Michael Tracy White for your friendship and great memories.
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