This Friday, February 13th, Eisenhower graduate Dave Merriman will host a record release at Rock Island Public House on Olde Western Avenue and Broadway in Blue Island.
The event starts at 7 p.m. and Dave’s band will play starting at 8. Admission is free.The event doubles as a fund-raiser for the Eisenhower music program.
Here’s Dave talking about the event and his motivation to help our band and choral programs.
This show is the record release for my solo record, Odd Bird. I wrote all of the songs and played 95% of the instruments on it.
The styles on the record are different for almost every song, but the main signposts would be guitar pop, folk, and a little gospel. There is zero punk rock in the sound of these songs, but my punk roots tend to show through in the lyrics.
The gospel-style song, Soon We’ll Be Fine, for instance, is a call for humanity to unite and love each other despite, and in opposition to, machinations of the government. The third verse goes, “When all the power/fits in one hand/they’ll see we’re so/much more than land/when we are one/strong as a pine/soon we’ll be free/soon we’ll be fine”.
Elvis Costello is a big hero of mine and influences everything I do musically, but I tend to avoid trying to actually sound like him. I admire his compulsion to explore many styles of music, and in that sense, he’s a big influence on the record.
The record is dedicated to my grandmother, Betty Cerullo (a Blue Island resident and inspiration to me who passed away while I was putting the record together. “Odd Bird” is a reference to her.) and the late Lynette “Miss K” Kestin/Mulder, our choir director at Eisenhower who took me and my friends into what became the show choir program and taught us so much about music, work and life that it’s impossible to encapsulate everything here. We became friends after we got out of school and remained close until she passed away years ago.
Why have you chosen to support Eisenhower music?
My experience at Eisenhower shaped me into the person, and musician, I am today. Miss K’s influence on me and all the students she taught is immeasurable. When presented with the opportunity to give back, I jumped at the chance.
Experiences at Eisenhower
I started High School in the band, not the choir. Mr. Harkins and Mr. Mulder were my teachers during my two years in band and both of them taught us a lot about the music business, and with Mr. Mulder in particular, I learned to improvise and think about working with a group as a whole. He said, “Sometimes it doesn’t matter what’s on the page; if the page says B flat and everyone else is playing C, you should be playing C.” That lesson resonated with me and I’ve applied it to situations throughout my life, both musically and at work. I like to think I’m still an iconoclast otherwise.
By my sophomore year I was in bands playing shows at clubs and felt I had no need to continue in school band, but Miss K asked the group of us that played together to join the show choir she was creating. Being that we could play rock-n-roll instruments like guitars and drum kits, she saw that we could be a valuable asset to her.
She, in turn, took us under her wing, as she did with all of her students, and mentored us. She showed us how to improve on our strengths and acknowledge and improve our weak points. She didn’t pull punches on the latter; she called you out if you tried to “phone it in”. She wouldn’t let us get lazy or complacent.
And her love for us was evident. A lot of us thought of her as another parent figure. Seeing her sacrifice herself, her time, and her money, to make our lives better, in and out of school, inspired me, and all of us — most of whom are still friends! — to be altruistic, motivated world citizens.