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‘Irregulars’ bring musical joy to Brooksby

Created date

June 21st, 2011

The mood in the Cider House Lounge is relaxed and content as a crowd of about 40 people sit back in chairs and couches, tapping their toes and singing along to the mellow sounds of the Brooksby Village Irregulars. This is the Tuesday evening scene, one of two days each week when the Irregulars entertain friends and neighbors who live at Brooksby with songs they grew up hearing. An evolving group of talented and seasoned musicians, the Irregulars now star Theodore (Ted) Good on piano and vocals, and Chester (Chet) Willows on guitar, harmonica, and vocals. The group more recently welcomed George (Gid) Loring on cornet. On Friday evenings Irving and Cynthia Goldston also join in on percussion instruments and the night features Jerry Shulman along with a host of entertaining singers.

Accidental collaboration

Though the Irregulars are a mainstay in the Cider House Lounge, a gathering spot after dinner at the adjacent restaurant and pub, the group continues as it began a humble collaboration of musicians. The whole thing was more or less an accident, recalls Willette Wood, who was the group s manager for the first seven years or so of its existence. Willette moved to Brooksby with her husband, Alden, nearly ten years ago. Alden played the drums and befriended pianist Fred Rosseland, who joined him in playing occasionally in Brooksby s music room. Shortly after, Ted Good moved in. He played the trumpet, among other instruments, and joined the group following Willette s request. She later discovered Chet Willows, whom she had known 40 years before moving to Brooksby. Willette recruited him too. Meanwhile, the Cider House Lounge had opened on campus and needed entertainment, so the pub s manager got in touch with Willette, and a regular gig was born. The Brooksby Irregulars was the name she suggested based on the Baker Street Irregulars from the Sherlock Holmes stories. Alden decided it was a reflection of their pacing instead, Willette laughs. He used to tell people that. That s really not true; that was just him being very modest about it. Today s Irregulars have decades of experience as musicians. Ted was a music teacher, and Chet and Gid have played for years, and the group continues to gain experience and new talent.

Expert musicians

When Ted joined the Irregulars more than six years ago, he found the fake music books that existed weren t quite right for the community. Since then, he has created his own fake books books of lead sheets with just enough information about each song for experienced musicians to play along. With help from Chet, the group now has a number of four-inch-thick books with crowd-pleasers from multiple decades and enough to keep them going without playing repeats. In between songs, Ted plays an interlude on the piano while Chet switches from guitar to harmonica. The musicians add their own flair and improvisation to each song. There are no rehearsals and the musicians are the first to admit that they make mistakes, but they do so with grace. For most of the musicians, the Irregulars is one of many outlets for their musical inclinations. Ted also directs the Protestant choir at Brooksby, and Chet hosts his own country western music night at the Cider House Lounge once a month. Both men are members of the Brooksby Gentleman, an all-male singing group. Gid has participated in his own jam sessions in the community. But the Irregulars bring something different to Brooksby. Being an accidental band really, it wasn t the intention to bring anything, but it brought a great deal, Willette says. A lot of people find it very endearing. It s really a very special kind of group.