Friday, May 30, 2008

A Tribute to a Teacher

This is a great album. Get it on Bo's website or from Amazon.

Back in 1976-77, as a senior at suburban Washington D.C.'s Herndon High School, I had the good fortune to have Michael Boran as my Government teacher. Mr. Boran was funny, kind, and an excellent teacher. What's more, he occasionally gave us tiny glimpses at another side of him. On several occasions, he'd pull out his guitar and play us a song as a reward. What was this? A teacher who could also do OTHER things? Unheard of in my brief lifespan. And intriguing. In his younger days, Mr. Boran had been one of the founding members of a folk rock group that evolved into the Mamas and the Papas--one of the seminal folk groups of the early and mid-1960s. Why had he given it up to become a teacher?
Flash forward to 2008. I'm sitting in my night school Government class talking with my students about how, many years ago, my government teacher had also been a musician. This inspires me to track my old teacher down and see what he's up to.

Using Google, this is easier than expected. Mr. Boran is back in the music business and even has his own website: Contact is made through the website, and the end result is I'm back in touch with my old high school teacher, Mr. Boran (who goes by Michael Rand professionally). We traded our creations--my book for his CD. And we each think we got the best of the bargain. On his CD, Bo plays all the instruments and does main and backing vocals. It's an amazing CD by an amazing man. Ironic that Bo quit the group that would go on to make millions so that he could get a more 'stable' job as a high school teacher. As we all know, high school teachers are not in the same pay category as rock stars.
I'm sure glad he did. Thanks, Bo, you were a great teacher and you influenced many kids--including me.

Following is Bo's biography:

George Washington High School, Alexandria, Virginia, Spring 1956 - Recent graduate Willard Scott is launching a career in television that will lead to his becoming America's most beloved weatherman; alumnus John Phillips is dabbling in jazz group-singing, a la The Four Freshman, which will lead to his becoming the founder and leader of The Mamas and The Papas; and sophomore Michael Rand is forming Alexandria's first professional Rock & Roll band, The Spotlighters (At the height of their career, The Spotlighters were knocking down between sixty and eighty bucks per gig!). Michael Rand soon joined forces with John Phillips, Scott McKenzie, and Bill Cleary in a vocal group called The Smoothies. They had released two singles on the Decca label, appeared on Dick Clark's American Bandstand, and were working on an album when they disbanded at the end of 1960. It was the height of "the folk scare". Phillips and McKenzie, along with a startlingly talented five-string banjo picker named Dick Weissman, were enjoying modest success as The Journeymen, recording on Capitol Records. Michael Rand and Tim Rose were struggling along the coffeehouse circuit as Michael and Timothy. Late in 1962, Rand married his high school sweetheart and began to realize that the insecurity of show business was not the best atmosphere in which to raise a family. So he embarked on a career in education, working his way through college and graduate school as an almost successful stand-up comedian. During these years, he opened for Bob Dylan, Josh White, Ian & Sylvia, and many other top folk and folk/rock performers, and emceed concerts by Count Basie and Woody Herman. He performed regularly at Washington's Cellar Door, Showboat Lounge, and The Bayou, and at Baltimore's popular Patches' Fifteen Below.Shortly after the collapse of his marriage in 1973, he received an offer to join The Neons, a band whose roots were in a legendary D.C. honky tonk called Chick Hall's Surf Club. He spent the next decade juggling his career as a teacher of government and political science with weekends spent playing weddings, bar mitzvahs, Moose lodges, and Elks clubs-all the while building, almost single-handedly, MOUNT HOPE, his log-and-stone home deep in the woods of Virginia's Hunt Country.The death of John Phillips in 2001 and of Tim Rose in 2002 gave Michael Rand a now-or-never feeling toward his music. With his colleague and wife, Christine, he installed a recording studio in his home and began to create the collection of unique interpretations of vintage rock and soul songs that make up his debut CD, OLD DOGS.


Little Me said...


I am a graduate of Herndon, class of 82 and I must say that Bo was my most favorite of all the teachers I ever had. He was such a good teacher - thanks for posting this.

Joe Graff said...

I am a Herndon High School graduate, class of '87. Mr. Bo was my favorite teacher too. A class act all around.