Notes From a Basement

By Doug Hubley: Sounds and reflections of a musical life

Jim Sullivan: I didn’t want to leave

Shown playing sax at a Fashion Jungle gig at Kayo’s in 1981, Jim Sullivan also brought skills on keyboard, violin, guitar and bass to the FJ and the Mirrors. Also shown, from left: Doug Hubley, Mike Piscopo, Ken Reynolds. Jeff Stanton photo.

(Jim wrote to Notes on April 4, 2017, to fill in some gaps in the history of the original Fashion Jungle.)

. . . I loved FJ (as well as the Mirrors) — the second set of bands I was ever in, and I did not want to leave it, especially at the genesis of originality.

You may remember I had entered an electrician’s program at Southern Maine Vocational Technical Institute [now Southern Maine Community College] that fall, with intentions of moving to their electronics program second semester, when the disciplines would diverge academically, and when (as they told me was likely) some students would drop out, making room.

The latter never happened, despite the fact that I got all A’s that first semester, and they were hanging onto a couple of D students in the program I wanted into. So I had to leave school or move.

The front line of the original Fashion Jungle during a 1981 performance at Kayo’s, Portland, Maine. From left: Doug Hubley, Jim Sullivan, Mike Piscopo. Jeff Stanton photo.

And beyond wanting to learn a trade in a demand industry and escape “crap jobs,” the science unexpectedly grabbed my interest, I graduated on top of my class at Wentworth, and was offered some good local jobs.

Nevertheless, I had to abandon my avocation for a while, and very much missed FJ and the imagination and musical diversity that came with it. I learned a great deal about composition and arrangement, even though I was not so prolific myself.  But I’m sorry I split abruptly without expressing any of that.

I have learned along the way that bands are an organic combination of individuals, some more dominant in influence than others, and one departure can have a moderate or devastating effect on the whole. The Western Swingtones faded out a few years ago when we lost our rhythm section all at once, including the best string bass player I’ve ever worked with. (You can still find some clips of us on YouTube. “Bands: Can’t live with them, can’t push them off a cliff” (did I get that from you?).

I was remarried a year and a half ago to a current band-mate of mine, Deb. You can find us at Speaking of band departures, our banjo player of our first year (2016) left, and after a spate of subs, we are starting to work with a dobro-mando-guitarist, nowhere to be found on the site yet.  Anyhow, check us out.

‘Til next time,