Randy Sabien, Jim McDowell, Stan Hickerson team up for roots reunion Aug. 2

July 29, 2014

Staff Report

The last time Randy Sabien played music with Jim McDowell and Stan Hickerson they were class of ’74 Guilford High School students. The trio jammed in their basements and garages, resulting in a band called “Miracle Morning” that played for school dances.

Jim and Randy were members of RAYSO and the high school orchestra under the baton of Don Zimmerman. Stan played drums and guitar, often teaming with Jim for acoustic music in local coffeehouses. Upon graduation, they developed individual music careers and rarely crossed paths.

Stan began writing music, studying recording, producing and songwriting under various professional producers in Chicago, then spent 25 years in Minneapolis. In Minnesota, he worked in several rockabilly bands, including Spiff Cool and the Keno Jets, the Screaming Yahoos, Robby Vee, and a brief stint with Molly and the Heymakers.

Randy discovered jazz violin at the University of Illinois, founded the string department at Berklee College of Music in Boston, then hit the road as a sideman with singer/songwriter Jim Post. His first jazz album was released in 1983, and he has maintained a steady touring and teaching itinerary ever since.

Jim flourished in his hometown and has “played in bands of all genres, symphonies, chamber orchestras; worked as a studio musician, arranger, conductor, luthier, teacher, technical director, light designer, set designer, composer, engineer, producer, photographer, author; owned a music store and a sound company, am a father, and a pretty good cook.”

After four decades of developing individual music careers, they reunite for a return to their musical and hometown roots with a 7 p.m. concert Saturday, Aug. 2, at Spring Creek United Church of Christ, 4500 Spring Creek Road, Rockford. The concert is part of the church’s Concerts on the Creek series (learn more about the series at www.springcreekucc.org).

Sabien has performed in various area venues over the years, including Charlotte’s Web, Coronado Performing Arts Center with the Rockford Symphony, On the Waterfront, and J.R. Sullivan’s “Hometown Holiday.” McDowell has been a fixture on the local jazz scene and is performing with the Jodi Beach Trio. Stan recently moved back and is leading “Big Earl and the Falcons” when he’s not driving the stagecoach for Wells Fargo.

I grew up on White Oak Avenue, and our family attended this church,” Sabien said. “I learned to play guitar there in the folk choir and often performed at services. At the same time, I was studying classical violin with Hannah Armstrong and playing electric guitar in the jazz band. I listened to a lot of acoustic music — Arlo Guthrie, Johnny Cash, James Taylor, Bob Dylan — and attended shows at the Orpheus Coffeehouse, then Charlotte’s Web.  Of course, rock and roll was what drew me to music in the first place, so Chuck Berry, the Beatles, Allman Brothers, and the Grateful Dead dominated my audio landscape. Jazz violin did not exist for me at that time. I’m very excited to get back together with my musical pals from my formative years. We’re basically doing the same thing we did in high school, except we’re much better!”

Admission to the Aug. 2 show is free, although donations are accepted. Food by Bino’s Italian Restaurant is available for purchase. Call (815) 877-2576 for more details.

Posted July 29, 2014

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