By June Wilson Burke, Class of 1972
The annual WHS Alumni party was held at Finnegan’s Wake on November 8, 2014. Each year, the Alumni Association hosts a party for alumni from any class to attend. The purpose of the parties is not only for alumni to come together and have a fun night out, but also to raise money to purchase items for Walpole High School.
The 2014 fundraising theme was to raise money to construct a memorial plaque for the lobby of the high school to honor the WHS war veterans who lost their lives defending our country. Thanks to those who came to the party (over 250 attended) and sponsorships from local businesses and alumni, the party raised more funds than anticipated. Because of this, the committee will be able to contract to have a larger, outdoor memorial placed on the high school grounds.
What made this evening especially successful was the inception of live music–but not just any live music. Musicians were sought who played at the Youth Center dances at Blackburn Hall in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Much investigation and inquiries took place to locate the musicians who are WHS alumni and still actively playing music. Even musicians who now live out-of-state were invited to play. Not only were many musicians from this era contacted, but most of them readily accepted the invitation to play at this benefit!
For months, much organization and energy went on behind the scenes to coordinate a combination of five bands and song lists. Every band was predominantly made up of Walpole HS alumni players.
Between the honorable goal of the fundraiser and all the excitement of having a Youth Center revival with our favorite Walpole HS musicians playing music from the 50’s to 80’s, (which prompted all that dancing!), the Alumni Association had its most exciting and successful party ever!
A monument will be constructed to include the names of all WHS veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Plans are to have a ceremony in May, at the high school, to formally dedicate the new memorial. Information will be forthcoming when the final plans are set. All are welcome to attend.
Included below are brief biographies of the great musicians from Walpole.
The Alumni Association would especially like to thank Robert Keating, Mark Leighton and Jim Brady for pulling the music program together, and ALL of the musicians who enthusiastically volunteered their time and effort to make this event so successful.
BIOGRAPHIES OF WALPOLE MUSICIANS
Mark Leighton Wrentham, MA Class of 1970
Mark Leighton (guitar, vocals) grew up in Walpole, MA, and played with Boston area bands including This Group, Shades of Glass, Tryst, Pieces, Pearly Gates, JB Quick, and Hotwired. He studied Arranging & Composition at Berklee School of Music, earned a BS degree in Engineering, and built a recording studio where he has written, recorded & produced 5 CDs. www.markleighton.us He is also a realtor for Keller Williams & a mortgage broker for Lendmark Mortgage. https://www.linkedin.com/in/markleighton
Les Fish Stoneham, MA Class of 1973
Les Fish (guitar, vocals & synthesizer) grew up in Walpole and played in rock & jazz fusion groups in the Greater Boston area. He studied at Berklee School of Music with jazz guitar great Mick Goodrick then formed the band Amante with Lori Star and toured the world for 2 decades. He returned to Boston and set up a recording studio where he recorded “Other Spaces” and “The Latin Jazz Cats” with a lineup of world renowned jazz musicians.
Mike “Bendy” Bendinelli Cohasset, MA Class of 1971
Mike Bendinelli (drums) plays with extraordinary fire, edge and originality. Mike has been the drummer of choice for many recording artists including Kasim Sultan (bass player for Todd Rundgren & Meatloaf), Gustavo Montessono, Pink Lady, The Camaros, TH & the Wreckage, Arthur “killer” Kane, and many more. “Bendy” has played the best venues from Boston and New York to Japan, and he has opened for countless acts including, Southside Johnny, 38 special, Cindi Lauper, Savoy Brown and XTC.
Bob “Sinky” Sienkiewicz Merritt, NC Class of 1971
Bob Sienkiewicz (bass, vocals) grew up in Walpole, MA, & played with Boston based bands namely Second Society (Stax & Casablanca recording artists), Ma Goodness, Sure Thing, & Vincent Picardi. He graduated from Berklee College of Music (1975 BA Composition & Arranging) and toured nationally with Frank Vincent & Joe Pesci Comedy Review, Frankie Cellamara & On Stage, and Peaches. He recorded at Intermedia Sound (Boston), Angus Studios (Worcester), The Record Plant (NY) & Ray Stevens Sound Lab (Nashville). Bob is currently a freelance bassist for several prominent eastern NC bands.
Nick Leighton Walpole, MA Class of 2006
Nick Leighton (bass, upright bass) has played bass and upright bass in the Greater Boston area for bands including Sound in Stone and Badus Brook. He is an accomplished finish carpenter and cabinet maker with a degree in Engineering and currently works for Superior Carpentry in Walpole where he designed and built his custom bass guitar.
Steve Macomber Taunton, MA Class of 1969
Steve Macomber (vocals, acoustic guitar) grew up in Walpole and sang with several acts including the Leighton-Macomber duo, Pearly Gates and Screamer. He has a BA degree from the Mass School of Art and a Master’s degree from the Museum of Fine Art. He worked in New York City art studios for over 2 decades before returning to the Boston area.
Robert Keating Norton, MA Class of 1973
Robert Keating (drums) joined his first Walpole rock band at age 13. For the next 13 years, Robert played with many bands and projects throughout NE. When Lou Dom Sr. found out teenage Keating was listening to Buddy Rich’s Big Band records and going to Rich’s concerts, Lou insisted Keating take lessons from big band drummer Joe Blake. Keating realized the money was in “general business and wedding bands” in the 1970’s and early 80’s before the DJ era flourished. Similarly, Lou Dom Sr. wanted to reinvent his aging act with young rock musicians and so a new commercial band was formed. At age 26, Keating left the music scene until 2010 when Keating co-founded “LouFest” concerts. The five annual “LouFest” concerts have brought together many of the “hey day” local music legends back together and out of “retirement” to play together for the first time in decades.
Bob Sturtevant Coventry, RI Class of 1973
Bob started taking guitar lessons from Lou Dom Sr. at age 12. Bob played bass in several local rock bands playing dances and local gigs. At age 19, he was asked to play bass in a big band revival by Lou’s friend, Joe Blake, who was a great local drum teacher and jazz player. Shortly after, that he was asked by Lou Dom to join Lou’s general business/wedding band. Sturtevant left the Dom band when he got married and stopped playing as other priorities took over. He picked up the bass 30 years later and, shortly after that, heard that his old friend and mentor, Lou, had passed away. Bob is proud to be one of the founders of the annual “LouFest” concerts to raise money for music scholarships. Since then, Bob has made musical friends of all ages through the Lou Dom concerts and playing at various open mic circuits.
Al Mullen Walpole, MA Class of 1973
Al Mullen (guitar) has served a lot as the man behind the bands, productions, and concerts. In his early days, Al served as an intern at WBCN News at the height of fame of this national-known progressive FM station model. Mullen produced and edited actualities carts. He later worked at the New England Conservatory recording and editing recitals, but, after a while, had to “go to work in real world”. Lou Fest returned him back to being active musically. In 2011, he became a co-producer of and performing musician at the “LouFest” concert series.
Rob Amaral Walpole, MA Class of 1971
Rob Amaral (guitar) is a Walpole native and current resident who started out playing music on trumpet in 1958. He switched to guitar in 1965 and was a former student of local guitar-instructor Lou Dom in 1968. Rob played in local bands Brother Ralph, Freefall, East Coast Muscle, Niki Aukema Band (Lip), The Lifters and is currently playing guitar in The Fathoms and a duo “Two Fathoms Down” with guitarist Frankie Blandino. Rob has also played gigs with Rick Clerici and The Nocturnes, one of Walpole’s first rock bands. Rob has also done recording projects with other area musicians in the Boston area such as Larry Milton (of Tuxedo Junction), and still plays-out and writes music to this day.
Lou DiGiandomenico, Jr. Hampton, NH Class of 1964
Lou DiGiandomenico Jr., along with Jim Keady, John Procaccini and Terry Groden formed “The Nocturnes” in the mid 60’s. Lou played in many of the best bands around at the time and toured the country for years with bands such as Steve Colt and the 45’s, Everett and The Screamers, Dick Doherty and The Majority, just to name a few. Lou worked in many a main room all over the country playing a variety of music ranging from R&B, soul music, country, jazz and Broadway Musicals. The late 70’s saw Jim Keady and Louie form their own show band called “Mass Confusion” and continued to tour full time to sold-out crowds into the mid 80’s. Music from some of the most unlikely places such as Sesame Street, The Muppet Show and others often were part of the show. Music has always been part of Lou’s life from his earliest memories as a young child to this day. As they say “It was the best of times”. Lou has and continues to work servicing financial institutions throughout New England. “It’s like being on the road only you get to go home every night.”
Jim Keady Randolph, MA/Naples, FL Class of 1965
Jim Keady (guitar, vocals and harmonica) grew up in Walpole and played with the “Nocturnes” in high school back in the 60’s. Jim played with many bands thru the years and toured the country with Roger Pace and the Pacemakers, Steve Colt and the 45’s, Dick Doherty and the Majority to name a few. Jim and Louie had formed a show band called Mass Confusion in the late 1970’s and played all the local hot spots. Recently, Jim was performing as a single on Sunday afternoons at the Purple Shamrock in Boston for three years prior to its closing.
Jim worked for Data General from 1983 to 2000 and EMC to 2014 as an Implementation Engineer. Jim is currently retired and is a snowbird between Randolph MA and Naples FL.
John Proccacini Franklin, MA Class of 1962
John Procaccini started several bands best of which was the Nocturnes made up of Lou DiGiandomenico, Jr., Jimmy Keady, Terry Groden and John. Jim was first to leave the Nocturnes and his brother, Danny, took his place. John joined a Boston-based band playing R&B and had the stage name Johnny Stuart. He fronted a popular 10-piece band, Survivors LTD, for a few years. Rosewood, from Lexington, MA, was another great group that John was a member of. John is happy to be back playing with The Nocturnes again because they have such a blast together!
George Hope Wrentham, MA Class of 1977
Hope (Guitar, Djembe, Vocals) was a Beatles nut in the 4th grade. His friend, Larry Amara, played guitar and talked about Lou Dom. At the same time Hope was delivering newspapers for Rocky. One of his stops was Myron Zajac’s house where he would sit and listen to Myron’s band jamming. One day Myron caught him peaking in the basement window, and invited him in. Myron told him about Lou Dom upstairs from Rocky’s. In 7th Grade, guys like Dave Cournoyer, Cliff Goodwin, Mike Sharrigian, Joe Donnelly, Rob Keating, Bob Sturtevant, were forming bands. The high school guys like Rick Clerici, the Amarals, Mark Leighton, Bendi, Proc, Les Fish, Jim Keady, Sinky, “Jed” Macomber all had bands Hope listened to. He needed to get on the Honor Roll to get lessons from Lou Dom. He can still remember the first time holding the guitar Lou rented to his parents. He started playing Walpole sports and the guitar went silent for a bit. He owes a lot to Clifford Goodwin for getting him back into guitar while they attended NU. Currently, Hope is involved in creating Open Mics in the Norfolk County area. He has also created a Collaboration Cooperation called the Bouncing Boulders, is involved with Lou Dom Fest, and in live music web streaming via Alternate Root TV, and also created an alter ego (Uglyfoot Rivers).
Walpole High Alumni Vice President Peter Paglari received The Friends of Christopher Comumbus’ Highest Honor as their Person of the Year!
Our Ninth Annual Reunion Party at Beckett’s on November 6, 2010 was a BIG success
– over 250 people attended! The buffet was delicious, the door prize was brunch for two
on the Odyssey, the raffle prizes included seven $100 cash prizes, 2 tickets to a Bruins
game, many gift certificates, paintings by Bill Lutz, and other terrific items. The DJ Bill
Coleman played great dancing music, and everyone had a wonderful time. If you were
not able to attend, I hope you will come next year and enjoy the festivities.