Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Mike Maher w/ the Caroline Boys & a Girl

In the course of my 23 July 2006 Sunday Photo Walk when passing through the 1400 block of P Street in Logan Circle I'd happen upon a group of musicians performing in front of the Whole Foods Market. It was last Halloween that I began my Whole Foods Market at Logan Circle project and since then, cognitive of the historic value of such images, when passing through the area I have sometimes snapped pictures using the Whole Foods Market as a backdrop.

Mentioning to the group that musicians have been amongst my ongoing themes since 1992 I'd ask if they objected to me capturing them, consentually but candidly. When inquiring if the group had a name one of the men dancers, dressed in black, said that the group did not have an official name but that the leader was Mike Maher. I wouild then ask them for their names, going from left to right.

Aron Rider, was the cellist, while Danny Villanueva was on percussion. Mike Maher, the leader played the banjo and the mandolin. Jeff Lopez was strumming his mandolin. And the two dancers, dressed in black, were Dan Bokor and Zak Sandler.

Once I got home and had time some to review the photos, having been quite pleased with the results I would then telephone Mike Maher informing him that I planned to do a brief write up on him and the group and asked that he provide me with some bio information pertaining to himself and the group. Having already checked the web for Mike Maher I had found several sites that I thought pertained to him. And others that did not. When I mentioned this to him he said there was something on the web regarding his performances at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage which I had already come across but had not yet listened to.

On the next day, which was Monday, I'd take the time to listen to the 11 Octber 2001 Millennium Stage performance at the Kennedy Center and was very impressed. Remembering my June 2006 visit South Boston VA when I'd become more acquainted with The Prizery I'd email Mr. Maher suggesting that he contact Chris Jones at the Prizery for possible future events. And would, again, reiterarate that he provide me with some historical and bio information pertaining to himself and the group which during our telephone conversation on the night before he had referred to as the Caroline Boys and A Girl Band.

On Wednesday, I would receive an email reply from Mr. Maher with the following information.

Caroline Mountain Boys (& a girl) are all part of the pit orchestra for the musical Caroline, Or Change, that ran for 10 weeks at the Studio Theater at 14th & P Street. The "band" started with myself and Jeff Lopez when Jeff wanted to learn some of the oldtime repertoire. They played at various locations in the Logan Circle area between shows on the weekends, including in front of the Whole Foods Market and Starbuck's on P Street and several times at Sparky's a few blocks north on 14th.

In the last few weeks cellist Aron Rider would them them. Mr. Maher says further that though "it's a non-traditional instrument for the style ... she has a fantastic ear and feel for the music which made her fit right in."

"We drew a crowd several times and lots of attention - a Whole Foods representative took our card for possible booking in the future. We were not really thinking of booking the group, only playing for our own enjoyment. Since the show closed last week, our oldtime P street band will probably not be heard again down there anytime soon."

And that's a damn shame because, apparently, not only did I enjoy them for a brief moment on Sunday evening, 23 July 2006, but so did many others over the preceeding weeks.

Mike Mahers plays and teaches jazz and commercial piano for a living. He also composes and arranges music. He says "...through the banjo and oldtime music I can recapture the unabashed joy of the musical amateur".

Mike Maher can be reached at or by telrphone 703-967-0231.

I'll be adding Mike Maher to my ongoing project and list of musicians to document and capture. And should Mike Maher perform at The Prizery in South Boston VA I certainly will make the effort to travel south to document the event.

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