Larry Garrett -- Clarinet -- Shingle Shakers and Dixieland Rascals
My parents made me watch Lawrence Welk.
Sounds a little cruel today, but it was 1957 and that's what we watched, dammit. But it wasn't all bad because, on each show, they featured some young clarinet player with a flattop and a goatee named Pete Fountain. He moved on from Welk in 1959 but last I heard he eventually did alright for himself.
My big move was from plastic flute-a-phone to a real instrument and I really only had one choice. Thatís why Iíve been playing the clarinet for 46+ years. A good choice, as I constantly remind the tuba, drum and keyboard guys as I help them load stuff in their cars.
My next big move came in 1970 when I got up the courage to walk into Shakey's Pizza Parlor in Columbia, Missouri and asked to sit in with the Shingle Shakers. Fortunately I wasn't asking for money and they knew a couple of tunes in B-Flat so theyíve let me tag along ever since (with one detour through The Dixieland Rascals where I picked up Rich Howard, Jim Roller and Jeff England).
My clarinet heroes have expanded a bitSidney Bechet, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Irving Fazola, Edmond Hall, Lester Young (clarinet on "The Very Thought of You" and a handful of others), Bob Wilbur, Kenny Davern and many more. But I'm partial to Pete. So these days I play--what else--a Leblanc Pete Fountain Big Easy B-flat Clarinet with a #3 Ĺ Rico Royal or Zonda reed, when I can find them. So even when I don't sound like Pete, I look a little like him.
Other than that, I've been in advertising for way too many years. Finally wised up and am now living with the love of my life, Denise (thatís a whole 'nother web site) in a hundred year old house in Kansas City which creaks a lot like me. And we have two boys. Jack (the Bassett) who likes to sing along when I play and Monk (the Tibetan Terrier) who has better taste and runs away when he sees me open the instrument case.
And I'm happy to still be playing the clarinet every chance I get. Especially with all of my friends in the Shingle Shakers.