Alice, who went by her middle name of Lynette, died on March 13, 2014. She taught flute for 30 years at Kalamazoo College. At an early age, she became a flutist with the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra, rapidly advancing to first chair. She graduated from the School of Music at the University of Michigan in 1943. During her college summers she taught flute at the renowned Interlochen Music Camp. In 1943 she married Raywood Helmer Blanchard, who after his military service as a pilot in the Army Air Corps, enjoyed a career as an international patent attorney. Lynette served as principle flutist with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra for 25 years. When the couple retired to McAllen, Texas, she was the first chair flutist and president of the McAllen Town Band. She was an avid golfer and active in the Methodist Church. You could find her playing the piano for her Sunday school class on any Sunday when she wasn’t fishing with her son in Rockport, Texas.
Matt performed a free concert in Hinton Music Hall at Middle Tennessee State University (Murfreesboro). He performed originals and covers on vocals and electric guitar with members of his bands. Yes, that’s plural. Matt is a member of three: Rescued Souls, Axe of God, and The Time Raiders. Matt majored in music at K. He earned a Master of Arts in Jazz Studies from MTSU. Since then he has been a highly sought after sideman for performances and recording sessions, and is also active in The Lund McVey Group. He directs the MTSU Commercial Music Ensembles and teaches jazz guitar private instruction and the MTSU course “Introduction to Music.” He also serves as an instructor of guitar lessons and camps at the Middle Tennessee Arts Academy in Smyrna and Gene Ford Music in Brentwood.
Welcome home, Andy Miller! The proud Kalamazoo College alumnus—class of 1999, English major, music minor, creative writing concentrator, Michigan-certified secondary school teacher (English and music), and K intramural softball phenom—has returned to his alma mater. He’s worked here before. Following graduation he was associate director of LandSea, a program he loved as both participant and patrol leader. He also worked to help the Stryker Center liaison with the greater Kalamazoo business community. Former K president Jimmy Jones recognized great talent, and when he became president of Trinity College (Hartford, Conn.) in 2004 he convinced Andy to go east for a decade. At Trinity, Andy created the Quest Program, which became that college’s outdoor orientation program for first-year students. Simultaneously Andy worked for Trinity’s advancement office—in major gifts, planned giving, alumni relations, and parent giving, making him one of the great five-tool players (think whatever corresponds to speed, power, contact, glove work, and a cannon arm) in the world of advancement. Andy and alumna Mary-Katherine Thompson ’06 married in 2009. They first met on LandSea. This past August Andy came back to K to serve as the College’s executive director of development. Why the return? “It’s a perfect fit,” he says. “It’s coming home.” And we think it’s great to have him home!
And now his answers to the questions we’ve all been eager to know.
What’s the best song every recorded?
“Apologies to the Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Petty, Guns N’ Roses, and especially Springsteen’s ’Jungleland,’ which comes in second, but I’m going to have to go with ’Layla’ by Derek and the Dominos.
What’s your favorite childhood fairy tale or story?
“’Peter Rabbit’ by Beatrix Potter.”
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
“’You did a good job down there.’”
What’s your favorite word?
What’s your least favorite word?
“Irregardless. People use it all the time, but IT’S NOT A WORD!”
What turns you on?
“Autonomy…challenge…the opportunity to create things…and, of course, my wife.”
What turns you off?
“Hate, prejudice, and close-mindedness.”
What sound do you love?
“The electric guitar. Specifically, a Fender telecaster coming through a Vox amp.”
What sound do you hate?
“I absolutely love dogs…but I have two at home who bark like maniacs every time another dog is being walked outside our house, which is regularly. Training remains a work in progress!”
What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
“Professional rock and roll songwriter.”
What profession would you not like to participate in?
“Accounting. My lack of interest would pretty much assure my uselessness…and vice versa.”
What’s been a GREAT MOMENT in your liberal arts learning?
“There are two, both of which happened spring of my senior year and involved synthesizing my previous three-and-a-half-years worth of learning and developing. My Senior Individualized Project gave me the opportunity to do a deep dive into every ‘art’ I had any competency in–a manuscript worth of poems (thanks Diane Seuss), a related series of photographs (thanks Richard Koenig), and an album’s worth of music (thanks Tom Evans). On the more traditionally academic side, my English Comprehensive Exams required me to, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on a Saturday, write essays on three different questions, with each essay using three literary references drawn from a list of texts read over the course of my entire time at K. Handing in my SIP and my ’comps,’ admittedly at the absolute last minute in both cases, was so fulfilling to me because they truly served as twin capstone projects of my liberal arts learning.”
Who’s the person (living or dead) with whom you’d most like to spend a lunch hour?
“Neither is famous. It would either be my paternal grandfather, who died when I was very young, or my maternal grandmother, who died before I was born.”
What memory from childhood still surprises you?
“I remember very well burning my arm on the stove at the age of two on Valentine’s Day when I was reaching for some Campbell’s Bean with Bacon soup my mom was making for me. Somehow, despite being so young, I had managed to get my arm on top of the stove. My mom has never forgiven herself because she was out of the room preparing for a date with my dad to celebrate the birth of my cousin on that very day.”
What is your favorite curse word?
What is your favorite hobby?
“Songwriting and recording in my basement.”
What is your favorite comedy movie?
“Blues Brothers is a pretty solid go-to. I use the phrases ‘We’re getting the band back together’ and ‘We’re on a mission from God’ regularly.”
What local, regional, national, or world event has affected you most?
“Probably 9/11. I may remember it so distinctly because it happened when we were on LandSea in Ontario. Tom Breznau got a call from President Jones and we went to the one TV at the nearest one-street town to learn what was going on, which was unbelievable. And we had to figure out how to inform all the patrol leaders and participants scattered throughout Killarney. Then to live in the east for 10 years…9/11 has shaped a lot of what New York is like today.”
If a cow laughed, would milk come out her nose?
“Absolutely, unless she was drinking orange juice.”
If you’re walking on a fall afternoon across any college campus in Korea, you’ll probably hear the sound of Korean farmer’s music. More accurately, the sound will enter your body. It will synchronize your heartbeat with its own. The large drum, called the changgu, provides the pulse. The beat grounds you, connects you to the campus, to the landscape, to Korea.
On countless fall days, I’ve heard the changgu resonate from unadorned citizen centers and sandy schoolyards. Elderly housewives gather with shop owners and learn the changgu. Awkward teens gather with other awkward teens to play the changgu. Led by teachers of lithe grace and resounding voice, their bodies learn new rhythms.
Kalamazoo College alumnus Gary Rector ’65 found a home in Korea. He also found a home in the changgu.
In 1994, after 27 years in Korea, Gary Rector took the famously difficult Korean citizenship exam. He was the only one to get 100 percent. He became a Korean national, fluent in both Korean language and the changgu.
As a fellow K alum who has lived several years in Korea, I wanted to learn more about Gary’s story, so I went to visit with him in his book-lined office near his home. He has lived in the same northern Seoul neighborhood for 40 years. When he first moved there, it was all traditional-style Korean houses, and many of his neighbors were fortunetellers and shamans. Now, the neighborhood is a jumble of crumbling traditional homes, 1980s villas and shops, and soaring new apartment complexes, intersected by highway overpasses and steep hills. I asked Gary what brought him to that neighborhood. It turns out that it’s the place where he learned to play the changgu.
Gary’s interest in his surrounding soundscapes started at a young age. He grew up in a musical family in Kentucky and still treasures early memories of his family playing bluegrass and spirituals. When he was an elementary school aged boy he moved with his father to Toledo, Ohio, and there he gained an awareness of how the sounds of language can differ, one place to another.
He spent childhood summers in Kentucky, and the school year in Ohio. As he traveled between these regions of two distinct dialects, he learned to speak both, alternating the Southern dialect of Kentucky with the Midwestern pronunciation of Ohio. Also, for a time, he and his father shared a house with Polish immigrants, and young Gary realized that he could understand their Polish. His interest in language burgeoned in high school; he studied French at his home high school, and travelled to another high school in order to study Russian.
In 1961 Gary started school at K. He continued to study French, as well as other languages, and became particularly interested in linguistics. After his junior year in Caen, France, he was hired for a work-study job in the language lab helping other students with French pronunciation.
Gary also got involved in theatre and music at the College. When he first arrived at K, his roommate (and to this day lifelong friend) John Bolin, convinced him to come along to theatre auditions. They both performed in many plays, and John later went on to become a longtime theatre professor at Berea College.
Another K friend was learning to do flat picking on the guitar, and Gary realized that his mom and dad had done that as well. Suddenly inspired, Gary began to play. He joined a jug band with friends, and continued to play with the band after graduation.
Jug band? “Wait,” I interrupted. “Did the jug band have a name?”
“Yeah, it did have a name,” he responded vaguely, with a mischievous smile. For a moment, I felt like I was talking to the college-aged Gary.
“What was it?” I didn’t let him off the hook.
“New Pandora Mountain Backstairs Walkup Letters to Mother Coloring Book and Jug Band. The girl who played the washboard named it.” His eyes twinkled.
I laughed. Classic K kid, I thought.
A significant mentor for Gary at Kalamazoo College was linguistics professor Peter Boyd-Bowman. He fueled Gary’s interest in linguistics. He also operated an innovative program for learning neglected languages. From 1963 to 1965, students in Boyd-Bowman’s program used a combination of audiotapes and pronunciation coaching from exchange students to learn Japanese, Chinese, Hindi, Urdu, Persian, Swahili, and Brazilian Portuguese. Many of the students who participated continued studying their language of choice more intensively through a summer program. Gary wanted to learn Hindi, but the program was limited to first- and second-year students, so he wasn’t able to participate. Ironically, Gary became probably the most successful student of neglected languages that Boyd-Bowman mentored. Gary’s later experience learning Korean reflects the personal motivation and attention to pronunciation that formed the basis for K’s neglected languages program.
After he graduated, Gary took a job at the Gibson guitar factory in Kalamazoo. Then, he decided to join the Peace Corps, requesting a non-European language speaking country. And so began his Korean experience.
Gary was part of the fourth class of Peace Corp volunteers sent to Korea, and arrived there at the end of 1967. Before starting their service, the volunteers received language training, and Gary stood out as a particularly skilled linguist from the beginning. His group of volunteers focused on public health, and after training he was posted in a small village called Cheongdo, outside of Daegu.
To learn Korean he spent as much time with local people as possible, speaking only their language. He also regularly bought a monthly volume of cartoons, and read them with a little boy he knew. Gary would ask the boy to explain any words he didn’t know, and, in exchange, would give the boy the volume when he finished reading it. After nine months in Korea, he also began to study the Chinese character writing system, and eventually became a fluent reader as well.
Gary brought his guitar and autoharp to Korea, and continued to play music. In 1969 he even composed and recorded a pop song in Korean titled “A Tomorrow Without Tuberculosis,” for a Peace Corps volunteer record aimed at earning money for the Korea Tuberculosis Association. The album sold more than 20,000 copies! Gary knew he wanted to learn Korean music, and tried more classical court-style instruments, but they did not particularly suit him. When he went to listen to Korean farmer’s music, he fell in love.
In Seoul, Gary heard the Korea-America Farmer’s Music Group, led by the man who would eventually become Gary’s long-term mentor, Kim Byeong-seop. Kim had had a bad crop year, so the group hired him to play and teach the changgu. At that point, Gary was in his late 20s, and Kim told Gary he was too old to start learning. But Gary persisted and eventually played the second changgu side-by-side with his teacher. Student and teacher playing together made a symmetrical picture—Gary right-handed, his teacher left-handed. Korean audiences loved that symmetry. In many ways, the music became Gary’s home. For several years Gary slept on the floor in the practice hall and helped newcomers to rehearse.
He would work part-time to earn enough to support himself while he played. After his volunteer service, Gary continued with Peace Corps. He trained Korean locals to use audio-visual materials for public health education. He also created language-learning materials and tested the language ability of new volunteers. Gary then worked for the Language Teaching Research Center, helping to create materials for Korean language textbooks.
Throughout the 70s and 80s, he worked professionally on many creative projects, and his career development followed the rapid trajectory of the Korean economy. He worked as a copywriter, editor, and translator for LG Ad (formerly Heesung Advertising). Then, he worked for the public relations committee for the Seoul 1988 Olympics Organizing Committee.
Gary’s decision to become a citizen began with loss. In 1987, he had a dream that he got a call informing him that his father had died. The next day, he did receive a call, and he learned that his changgu teacher had died. His father died exactly one month later. It was then when he started to think about becoming a Korean citizen because he had more significant personal ties in Korea than in the U.S. at that point, and citizenship would give him the flexibility to do freelance work. Gary continued to write widely on topics related to Korean language, culture, and society. He also took on translation and editing projects. He became a citizen in 1994 and continued to write, edit, and translate for many government and corporate clients. He even wrote a weekly newspaper column on Korean society that ran for 10 years.
One of Gary’s current interests is in cued speech, used mostly for deaf students to aid in lip reading and accurate detection of exact phonemes. He worked with Professor Seo Chang-won, a professor of special education at Far Eastern University, to develop a version of cued speech for Korean. Learning cued speech can significantly increase the reading aptitude of deaf students. Gary is interested in applying cued speech to teaching foreign languages. By signaling the exact phonemes, cued speech can help learners increase their listening comprehension, writing ability, and pronunciation.
Gary Rector’s life continues its immersion in the sounds and rhythms of language. For me, his life story is a reminder of the ways we all are shaped by sounds and rhythms, if we only take notice.
The author: Nora Hauk ’04 majored in theatre arts at K, and studied abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand. She spent two years after graduation on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in South Korea. She is currently a doctoral candidate in sociocultural anthropology at the University of Michigan. She received the Blakemore Fellowship for Advanced Asian Language study, and graduated from Yonsei University’s Korean Language Institute. She is now in Seoul working on research for her dissertation.
Playing to a packed venue in downtown Kalamazoo, the indie rock band “Lasso”—featuring Andy Catlin ’09 on keyboards—finishes the final chords of its set to rousing applause. But before Catlin can catch his breath and greet his friends in the audience (including a contingent of Kalamazoo College alumni who are staples at his concerts) he jumps back onstage to perform with “The Go Rounds,” another popular Kalamazoo-area rock band.
Catlin has been writing, performing, and recording music in southwest Michigan for the better part of a decade. Lasso has released five full-length albums since its 2010 debut. It’s fifth, “Golden Lasso,” was released this spring.
In 2011, Catlin and a business partner, Ben Lau, established Double Phelix Recording Collective, a 2,500-sq. ft. recording studio and performance space located in the River’s Edge neighborhood on the eastern edge of downtown Kalamazoo. Musicians pay monthly dues for studio time to rehearse and record their own music. Most end up helping other musicians with their projects. Lasso and The Go Rounds are among a dozen music groups that currently belong to the Collective.
Double Phelix services include audio production, engineering, mixing and mastering; music and sound for film, TV, and radio; location recording; instrument repair and rental; and more.
Catlin books bands’ gigs, schedules studio time in Double Phelix’s 100-year old converted barn space (conveniently located near a bevy of downtown Kalamazoo coffee houses and brew pubs), and oversees every aspect of recording and production. A multi-instrumentalist, he often sits in as a session musician when needed, especially during the once-a-month evenings of music he organizes for member bands dubbed “Double Phelix Showcases.”
He also promotes the studio through the weekly release of an original song from a Double Phelix member band. With singles released via “Double Phelix Bandcamp” and other social media sites, the studio enjoys a consistent web presence.
Out of breath yet? Not Catlin. In addition to all the aforementioned, he helped launch a nonprofit organization that encourages school kids to make their own music.
During his time at K, Catlin took a partial-credit course in recording technology from part-time K music instructor and acclaimed Kalamazoo-based sound engineer John Stites.
“Although my focus was always more on the music than engineering, John became a huge advocate of me being able to play and produce,” says Catlin.
Instruments of Choice
Catlin remembers first being obsessed with music as a fifth-grader learning to play the clarinet—and falling asleep with it at night.
“It was all clarinet, all the time” he smiled.
He then became interested in the trombone, tuba, guitar, piano/keyboards, “and percussion instruments of all kinds.”
After his parents gave him a four-track cassette recorder for Christmas (he was 14), Catlin began “reading every book I could possibly find about recording.”
He also became interested in the stories behind popular music studios and the wider musical cultures from which they emerged, eventually basing certain aspects of Double Phelix’s business model on successful elements of the Motown experience in Detroit and Muscle Shoals in Alabama.
Catlin began making connections in the music industry during his senior year at K when he became full-time booking agent for the now defunct Kalamazoo music venue The Strutt, at the corner of Academy and W. Michigan (now home to Rupert’s brewpub and music club). Within two years Catlin had booked more than 700 acts and was central to the transformation of the small-time coffee house and bar into a venue that featured national touring acts.
“The Strutt was an incredible meeting place for Michigan musicians. I soon started to record, produce, and advocate on behalf of a wide body of musicians. This was the genesis of Double Phelix.”
Although the studio possesses industry standard digital recording capabilities, Catlin says “we are passionate about analog sound and vintage instruments.” Thus his instrument of choice many days is a Tascam ATR 6016 one-inch tape-recorder he purchased in 2012. It’s the premiere method for recording music by his other bands. In 2013, he used it to record nationally renowned bass player Dominic Davis, perhaps best recognized for his collaboration with “White Stripes” front man Jack White, named one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time by Rolling Stone.
Music in the Key of K
A person must possess an intense work ethic in order to juggle musician’s schedules, organize complex musical arrangements, oversee recording, mixing, and mastering efforts, and then market the final product.
Catlin said he found his at K.
“I think the K work ethic seeped into how I approach music,” said the Grand Rapids native who majored in religious studies. “K was the place where I went from being a talented musician, to becoming a total musical being. I developed so much while I was there.”
He also credits K’s liberal arts for helping to develop his jack-of-all-trades capability at Double Phelix.
“The campus is a playground of creativity,” he said.
For his Senior Individualized Project Catlin composed and recorded a 40-minute musical composition for strings, drums, guitars, and electronics.
“My SIP laid the groundwork for me to create and sustain a professional music studio.”
During the summer of 2013, Catlin drew again from his K heritage when he helped solidify a partnership between Double Phelix, the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, Communities in Schools of Kalamazoo, and the Dan Schmidt Gift of Music Fund. The collaboration set in motion an innovative after-school music education program for Kalamazoo Public School middle school students. Each participating student writes, rehearses, records, and publicly performs his or her own original song.
“K is such a huge advocate of community service, so it’s incredibly fun and rewarding to follow up with that kind of work now.”
He is optimistic about what comes next as he approaches the five-year anniversary of his June 2009 commencement. And he’s eager to keep his K connection strong.
“I continue to meet and network with the K community. I’ve played some shows on campus and continue to get support. I’m open to any collaboration that the College sees fit! We’ll at least be rocking here in ‘Kzoo’ for a few more years, maybe longer!”
Rock on, Andy!