Dr. John Clark
Annual Faculty Lecturer 2006-2007
Dr. John Clark, the music department Chairman, teaches Theory and Musicianship, Songwriting, and several music literature classes including Jazz History, History of Rock and Roll, and Music Appreciation. Dr. Clark earned his Ph.D. in Music History from UCSB. An active composer, he has had several pieces performed by the SBCC Symphony Orchestra, most recently, "Dark Journey." He composed music for the Pulitzer Prize winning play, "The Kentucky Cycle." Dr. Clark is also an accomplished jazz painist who regularly performs with local ensembles.
Questions and Answers
Tell us a little about your background· where you grew up, your parents, your early
I was born in December of 1952 in Taft, California. It's a small town about 30 miles west of Bakersfield. I'm an only child, and my parents, Bob and Maudene, had moved from Oklahoma and Texas, respectively, in the post-war years hoping to find a better way of life in California. The oil business was booming and my dad started a trucking and oil field service company that became very successful. My mom ran the office for the company. I guess it was a typical small town childhood in the 50's and 60's in California. I went to school, rode my bicycle everywhere, hung out with my friends, got into trouble, the usual things. I played sports a lot-little league baseball then baseball and football at Taft High.
How did you get into music?
My mom loved country music. She played records by Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and Bill Monroe all the time. When Elvis hit in 1956, his songs were played too. One of my first musical memories is going to the record store with mom to get a new release by Elvis, "Hound Dog." I played that record over and over again, couldn't get enough of it. All that energy, and that amazing voice, definitely left a mark on me at age five.
Then there was Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry. That was the music of my youth and I still enjoy it. The love of jazz and classical music came later. I started playing the guitar when I was about 10. I just wanted to play those Buddy Holly songs. I still play them. I played trumpet in 7th and 8th grade band, learned to read music, made it to second chair I think. My trumpet career came to an abrupt end when there was a league baseball game and a band performance on the same day. The band director, Mr. Garner, said I was out of the band if I missed that performance. I didn't even think twice. On that Saturday after noon all those years ago, I played third base, not second trumpet.
Where did you go to college?
I took some music classes at Bakersfield College: theory and music appreciation. Chuck Wood was teaching there at the time. Who knew that years later we would be colleagues and friends in the Music Department here at SBCC. I earned a BA in piano performance from Cal State Bakersfield and a Ph.D. in music history from UCSB.
What are your interests outside music and teaching?
I spend a lot of time working on cars, especially my 1977 MGB. British sports cars are cool. I'm a film fan. I like crime dramas, foreign films, and westerns. I also watch a lot of sports on TV. The auto mechanic thing will probably be my retirement gig if the next few contracts between the Instructors' Association and SBCC don't come out better than the last one.
Tell us about your family.
My wife Pam and I recently celebrated our 34th anniversary. She is clearly a saint. We have two wonderful daughters, Jennifer and Jill. Our first grandchild, Jaleya, was born in August of 2005. What a joy they all are most of the time.
What is the subject ofyour lecture today?
It's really more of a lecture-performance. I'm going to give a brief overview of the composers and pieces on the program and then play them live with the fabulous musicians I have asked to help me out here today. I will also be giving some insight into how the performance is put together, what the musicians are doing, and what to listen for.
I know there will be a lot of people in the audience who are not jazz fans but maybe I can add to their understanding of this great music. Mostly, Ihope everyone enjoys the music and has good time listening to it today.