1. The Early Days
Legend has it that Mr. McFeely was originally formed by five strapping young men in their freshman year (Fall 1996) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. These men were Gage Choat, H.B. Telling, David Horton, Joe Hardenbrook, and Frank Shockey. The Fab Five met as Freshmen in their campus orientation group. In their humble beginnings, Gage (singer/guitarist/song writer) had never previously written a song for band play, Dave was only beginning to learn to play drums (and didn't actually own a real drum set), and Dave, Joe (singer/keyboard,) and Frank (alto sax) had no previous band experience.
Early on, Gage and H.B. would play acoustic guitar in their cramped dorm rooms (after being kicked out of several stairwells), soon to be joined by the occasional voice of Joe, and dreadfully loud (but original) percussive stylings of Dave. The band began practicing the songs Fish Heaven, River, and Jacques the Monkey (a song that never quite made it) in a room in the music department of UAF. But despite that fact that it was student tuition money such as theirs that funded that very music department, the band was banned from playing there on account that they were a noisy "rock band" (however, the band did take it as a compliment that they were already being classified as such).
Luckily, Dr. John Whitehead and Mary Di Cecco came to the rescue, offering the band use of the Honors House for practice. This, of course had a lot to do with the fact that most of the band was composed of honors students. By this time, the band had picked up 3 more horn players: Chuck Stafford on baritone sax, Lalida Crawford on tenor sax, and Karl Eklund on trombone. The band went through a several band name ideas before eventually coming up with Mr. McFeely, soon before Battle of the Bands 1997. The band first considered calling itself "Spank My Angst," which later shortened to "Spangst," and then they considered "Shakespeare in the Bush" (based on an article a few of the band members had to read in Anthropology 100,) "the Alaskan Independence Party," and "Baked Alaska" (which we sometimes use when performing without the horns.)
©Mr. McFeely 2000