website builder (photo: the USAF Heartland of America Band with trumpet player Stephen Spink at center)

Practically from the beginning, the Spink family has been a part of the Center for Musical Arts. James and Leslie Spink have been enthusiastic donors and supporters, and both of their sons, Stephen and Daniel, took lessons and performed in ensembles at the Center (at the time, the Rocky Mountain Center for Musical Arts). Stephen Spink currently plays trumpet in the United States Air Force “Heartland of America” band, and Daniel has an accomplished musician currently playing viola in the Rochester, NY-based Kodak Quartet.

Recently Stephen sat down with Education Director Kathy Kucsan and Director of Jazz Studies Steve “Mr. C” Christopher to discuss his exciting career as a musician  and his memories of the Center for Musical Arts.

Watch the interview or read the transcript below.

 

Kathy Kuscan: Just to be formal about it, this is our official meeting with “the Stephens.” Mr. C, Mr. Christopher, who’s our Director of Jazz Studies at the [Center for Musical Arts] and Stephen Spink, who is a famous alumni [laughs] and has a really cool story of growing up, basically at the [Rocky Mountain Center for Musical Arts]. So, do you want to tell us what you’re up to right now? Just so people know that, and then we can just chat about the past a bit?

Stephen Spink: Sure, yeah. So right now I’m living near Omaha, Nebraska, and I’m playing with the US Air Force Heartland of America Band. So it’s one of several regional bands that are full-time active duty Air Force that are stationed around the country. 

What that gig looks like right now for us is we have, it’s a small band, so it’s 18 people total. We have a brass quintet plus a drummer, and a vocalist, and a rock band. Most of the time, those two groups do things generally separately, they’ll go out and perform separately. But every once in a while, like a big show or something like that, they’ll play together and we’ll do some transcriptions, and some like rearrangements of some, sometimes it’s like old school swing, big band tunes. Sometimes it’s more like rock horn band stuff, like Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, a lot of variety. But yeah, so it’s a combination of a brass quintet gig and a little bit of horn band stuff.

Kathy: Very cool. And so when did you figure out that you were going to be a professional musician?

Stephen: I decided that I wanted to be a professional musician the summer before my junior year of high school. What sort of really did it for me, what flipped the switch was going to Interlochen. So I had been really involved with music for years and years before that. That’s sort of a decision point for a lot of people in high school. What’s the next step? What do I want to do? 

And my brother Daniel had been to Interlochen in the summer before that. And it’s such a crazy, intense and immersive experience that you walk out of something like that either going like, “This is for me, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life,” or like, “I love music, but I want to have a day job or something like that.” 

I came out of Interlochen really, really pumped about music. So that’s when I kind of decided that that’s what I wanted to do. And then started making decisions from that point, kind of like setting up lessons and preparing for auditions and looking at music schools and all of that kind of thing.

Kathy: Wonderful, wonderful. And Mr. C, I understand you had this guy as a student at some point. Is that right?

Mr. C. (Steve Christopher): I’m just sitting here going, “Wow.” My colleagues as educators know how this feeling is when you have somebody cross your path and involved in your program and do what Steven did as far as growing in the program and contributing to the program. And then the neatest part in all of this is that he went away, but he’s still doing it. So, as an educator, you just tingle about that sort of thing. You just really get excited. 

I think I should tell a quick story about Stephen and I, we had a bus ride together. Now, I don’t know if you’re going to remember this Stephen, but we’re out at the Anaheim ITG conference, which is the International Trumpet Guild. And Stephen was a participant with his Baylor gang. They were performing a brass group, and we had heard that performance and were thrilled by it. His college career had been fabulous at Baylor.

But anyway, we happened to get on a bus together to go to the event that night. And we sat together and again Stephen I don’t know if you remember, but I was just overwhelmed by the fact that here’s a former student who just performed not only the stuff that we did in his younger days, but now in his more mature days was still going at it and doing very well. 

And then we got into a little bit of chatting and I was trying to pick his brain about what’s next. And Stephen sort of alluded to the military party thing. He was thinking about it. And so I told him my story about my wish to be in the military back in the day. 

And the quick version of that story is that in 1968, somewhere in there, Vietnam was going crazy. So all of us musicians graduating from college were trying to get in the service bands because nobody wanted to carry a rifle, and we were all afraid of being drafted in those days. 

And so Steve C. here decides, well, “I’m going to run down to Colorado Springs and see if I can get in that fabulous group called NORAD Band, or maybe the Air Academy, let’s see what I can do.” So I went down to audition and I look in the room and there’s, sitting in the chair auditioning, is Bobby Shew and I’m going, “Oh, okay. I get it.” 

And it was a true story back then, every excellent musician and the country was auditioning everywhere because nobody wanted to carry a rifle in Saigon. So I went across the street, literally to the Air Force Academy, and I was allowed to audition with the Falconaires over there back in the day.

And the audition was this: big Sergeant said, “Young man. There’s a practice room. Go warm up. Okay.” He gave me 10 minutes to warm up. I warmed up as succinctly as I thought I knew how. And in those days I had just graduated in college and I thought I was just a stud. I’m the hottest trumpet player in Boulder, Colorado. 

So anyway, I warm up, I come out and he says, “Your audition is with the Falconaires and you’ll be playing the trumpet part.” And I said, “Oh, okay.” So I go get in the trumpet section, I’m surrounded by guys with stuff, hanging off their sleeves and stripes and medals. And so, okay, I’m going to do my best to put my horn up. And the tune is one of those fold-out arrangements that goes about eight pages. And he goes, “All right, here we go. One, two. Bah, bah, bah.”

And you know, in about page two, I’m dead. I’m toast. So I feel this hand on my shoulder and the guy’s name was Jack. Sergeant says, “Young man. Follow me.” So I leave the rehearsal, go to the practice room. He goes, “You know, this is a tough time to be a trumpet player, trying to audition for our groups. We can’t accept you in our group, but you know, you seem like you’re okay enough to give you a letter.” 

So they actually gave me a letter to be in the Air Force band program at the time. Again, long story short, I didn’t have to use that letter because I was deferred as a teacher shortly after that and made it through all of that time in my life as an educator. But the thing that excited me about our conversation, Stephen, on that bus ride, was that you brought back those intense memories for me. 

Plus you had some thoughts, you had some real good thoughts about how you can continue playing the trumpet daily, improve, be great. And you did that. You went and did it. So, way to go.

Stephen: Thank you. I do remember that bus ride, actually, I remember that well. It’s always a pretty fun experience to run into former teachers at conferences like that, I’ve only had a few moments where I’ve run into someone that I wasn’t kind of actively studying with. But the times that I have, like that one have been, yeah it’s sort of one of those like small world, full circle kind of moments. So I was really glad to see you there.

Mr. C: Tell me — sorry Kathy, I didn’t mean to interrupt your thought, because I know that look — but anyway, tell me what’s ahead. Are you going to think service for a while, are you just hanging out, or what’s up?

Stephen: I’m honestly not sure. I signed for a four year enlistment and I’m coming up on the two year mark of that. So I started in August. That’s when I went to basic training, all that good stuff. I didn’t actually get to the band here until mid-October. So I’ve got two years and change left. I’m not totally sure if I’m going to be a lifer yet or not. 

Speaking of auditioning for the Air Force Academy band, I was actually there not too long ago because they’re becoming premiere status again, so they’re auditioning for all of these spots and I shot my shot and didn’t get the gig. Would have definitely gone anyway, that’s how auditions work. Those kind of experiences, that they add up.

And I had a pretty similar moment playing with a brass quintet, the second half of that audition was with the academy brass quintet. And so half an hour into an audition and just playing all the solo stuff and sight reading, and then the quintet walks in and it’s just like, “All right, here we go.” Yeah. Similar kind of experience there. 

A lot of that stuff was pre-prepared. So there was some sight reading, but it wasn’t quite like being tossed into the fire like it sounds like you were, but anyway, I had to actually answer your question for what’s next. Yeah. I’m here for another couple of years, at least I’m shooting to actually get a short stint in one of the overseas bands, that would be a really, really cool opportunity within the air force program that I’m in now. There’s a band in Germany, there’s a band in Japan, there’s a band in Hawaii.

And everybody that’s been there has said, “Yeah, if you get the opportunity to go to one of those bands, the places that they get to go and the people they get to play for are pretty insane.” So that’d be a really cool opportunity as auditions for the band and in Colorado Springs continue to cycle through, because they sort of come in waves as auditions for that band and the DC band come up as well, I’ll take those as I’m able. 

Kind of continue to strive, to rise through the ranks, but for now, and looking in the short-term for what’s next for us, we’re getting back to playing some live concerts, which is nice. We’ve got a, like a quintet show this Sunday, and we’ve got some more rock and pop and some horn band stuff going on this summer. I’m getting some opportunities to go on tours and stuff with some of the other bands just because they need trumpet players. So yeah, we’re, we’re getting back to playing live concerts and it’s pretty thrilling.

Kathy: Yeah. So thrilling, it’s so exciting to make music. And personally, again, it’s been a long, 15 months or 18 months or whatever. I want to back up, Stephen. Maybe if you would talk a little bit about how you started and I can’t remember who your teacher was, was it Dawn Kramer?

Stephen: It was.

Kathy: Okay.

Stephen: My brother and I came to, I think he talked, probably talked about this in his too, we came to the instrument petting zoos, and I still just have like little bits and pieces of memories from that. Just how much fun that was to us, trying to make sounds on all the different instruments and stuff. 

So we were coming to RMCMA stuff from a really young age and our parents took us to see the symphony. They took us to concerts. So we were involved in music from when we were wee lads. Eventually yeah I started taking lessons with Dawn Kramer at [the Center for Musical Arts]. And yeah, as far as, you know, like first like real deal lesson teacher for trumpet and not just like goofing around, like trying to make noises on a garden hose that we had sitting around the house, as far as like a real deal trumpet teacher, she was kind of the best I could have hoped for at the time. 

A very caring teacher, very invested in how I did, when I came into lessons prepared. I always remember, it seemed like I blinked and you know, that the half hour, once we moved up to hour lessons, were gone and I remember, I would actually say at the end of lessons, like, man, I wish school went this fast. We were just both so focused and invested in the music.

Stephen (left) and Daniel Spink (right)

Kathy: Yeah. She’s a great teacher and I’m sure she’d say similar things about having you as a student. Oh, I forgot what I was going to say. Sorry about that. Mr. C? I know, I know, I know. When I talk to your parents they say, “Oh, you know, we are just mystified.” About how both you and Daniel have taken this path. Because they’re not musicians, but they’re still very involved in the Center, which is really very cool for us.

Stephen: It’s a testament to the lengths that they went to expose us to music. And the fact that, you know, when we said you got like, “Oh, I want to take piano lessons, or I want to take trumpet lessons.” My brother had to beg for a little while to take violin, just because of, I think natural reservations with the idea of having a violinist practice. And I’m sure if he heard me say that he wouldn’t, he would counter by complaining about my constant trumpet practice. And honestly, I don’t blame him at all. 

But I think it’s a testament to the lengths that they went to, to support us and expose us to music. And also just the fact that we had something like CMA so nearby. I mean, I actually meant to mention your classes, Mr. C, when you were asking about how I got started with Dawn and then kind of dipping my toe in the water with jazz, with Mr. C’s summer programs. There are a lot of people that live in much bigger communities that have a lot to offer that don’t have something like CMA that has like really good, really invested teachers right there that are willing to give people opportunities to learn those kinds of things.

Kathy: Yeah. Mr. C had jazz in the summer here for forever. Well, you’re still doing it actually, right? But not in the camp format.

Mr. C: No, no more camps, but Stephen participated in those years and he was a thrill as a young guy, but here’s the biggest story about him. He survived the summer thing and grew up a little bit, and we put him into the regular program with the old guys. And here’s the deal. His contributions back then were twofold. He was a little bit shy, I’ll use that word, for a while. We had to look at him funny once in a while like, “Play. Play your horn. Just play the damn thing.” And he did. And his tone grew and his actual sound production grew. I think you were studying privately with a jazzer, what was his name?

Stephen: I studied some with Al Hood in high school as well.

Mr. C: Yeah. And Al’s a big guy. So what happened was, Stephen grew up right in the middle of our site, literally. So what happened in the group was that he started pushing the adults around. As you got into improvising, that was kind of foreign to him for a while. And it was a struggle like it is for a lot of young players, but his contributions became greater. And then all of a sudden he’s chasing the big guys around, including his teacher, me. 

So I’m having to think a little bit, “Okay. I can use my solo going to be better than Stephen’s tonight?” It was great for all of us. And by the time he was mature enough and graduating from high school and he was finishing his time with us, he was all-state caliber. And it was a thrill to be a participant and see that growth. From the little kid that just brought his horn in and went, [little horn toot]. To a guy that walked in and went, “Okay, anybody want to play? Want to play now? Let’s go, come on.” And that kind of stuff. And I think he’s carrying on obviously in the service. And so that’s my story for him, is that, keep it up, dude.

Stephen: Thank you.

Kathy: I have to say that it’s totally gratifying for me to have seen the trajectory of the school over two and a half decades. And to be sitting here, here’s a master teacher who’s been on our faculty for a long time and a really successful student who I think you came here first as a Music Together student, maybe. Was that true?

Stephen: I think so.

Mr. C: You had the toddler classes. Yeah. I think Daniel mentioned something about that, which I don’t completely remember, but it’s so cool because you know, we have this common language of music and this common thing among us, and it’s just, to have you still on staff, Mr. C and to see where you’ve gone, Stephen, I don’t know. There really aren’t words for it. 

But I have a question for you. So what would you say, I mean, both of you actually, what would you say to a student like you coming in? Maybe, I don’t know, fifth grade. Just picked up the trumpet.

Stephen: Good question. I think probably the two things that I would say, and it would… It’s a tough question. Because it kind of depends on the student and I guess what their aspirations are. But regardless of what their aspirations are, where they are, where they want to be, I think the two things I would probably say are, if you’re in this because you enjoy it, take opportunities. Take any and every opportunity. Whether that’s chances to play or chances to learn from people, both formal and informal settings, just put yourself out there. Take opportunities to play and to learn from other people. 

And I guess the second one would be to really, really, really enjoy it. That can get lost, especially, especially as people start to get serious about it and practice becomes really, really regimented. And you start to get into these bigger ponds with heavier cats and people who are really, really serious about it. It’s easy to kind of squeeze the life out of just enjoying playing music. So make sure that you’re taking the time and being deliberate about it and enjoying the opportunity to play music.

Kathy: That’s some pretty great advice.

Mr. C: Well, I totally agree with that enjoyment part, Stephen. That’s a key. I’m always curious when I see somebody young anymore, I don’t work with young players a lot, like I used to, but why did you choose that instrument is kind of a question that I have. Because I’m interested in how they got to the horn, what their vision of it is. And of course they have some very interesting tales about that. But I think of my own reason for starting. And then I compare it to what I’m hearing sometimes from people. 

But for me, it was, I got to go hear Louis Armstrong play live. That’s all it took was I stood at the front of the stage and I was in sixth grade and just went well, “Oh. I want to do that.” And at that point, I thought I could swing like Louis. I’m still trying to figure out how to play like Louis Armstrong. 

But that was what kind of fired me up to get started. What happened next was taking lessons and that stuff you’re talking about, where you have the rigor of it all and the reality that there’s some work on your part and that the pages, this and that, and the whole load and the whole works, has to be done. And so it helped me get past some of that initial stuff. And I’m always curious about why kids get started. You know, sometimes, “Mommy made me,” you know, that kind of thing, but it’s fun.

Kathy: Were you drawn to trumpet? I mean, was that it? You weren’t going to play… Both of you. I mean, you weren’t going to play the flute or piano or cello, it was trumpet?

Mr. C: Go Stephen. Go, go.

Stephen: It’s funny that you mentioned flute because I briefly, very briefly, I actually did play the flute. But I started on piano when I was very young. And just because whenever there was music playing, I kind of perked up, I paid attention. So I wanted to do something in music and piano seemed like a good place to start. 

And I think it was like maybe a year and a half or so of lessons and it was kind of obvious that it just wasn’t the right fit. Piano still to this day is not my thing. I muddled my way through the requirements for the degree, but I’m just not a good piano player. And so I quit that for a while and still wanted to do something with music.

So several years down the line I had figured out how to play a piece of garden hose that we had laying around the house from a DIY Halloween costume. Just like buzzing my lips against like the metal hose thing and yeah making the sound and like playing a couple of different partials and the whole shebang. I figured out kind of how to do it. 

And I had always been drawn to the sounds, listening to recordings, particularly Wynton Marsalis. Just like little cassette tapes or CDs of compilations of different jazz music. Some definitely some Louis in there as well, of kind of these great jazz artists. So I figured out how to make the sound. And I already knew that I liked the sound from listening to recordings. So that was kind of what drew me to the trumpet.

Kathy: Yeah. And we know about you, Mr. C, but tell us anyway.

Mr. C: My story is pretty quick. My father was an accountant in the business world and not much to do with music. My mother minored in music and played piano. So there was a sense of something going on there. 

But I went through my father and I said, “Dad, I want to play the trumpet,” and he said, “Trumpet?” I said, “Yeah, the trumpet.” He said, “Well let me look into this.” He worked in the athletic department and we went right over to the music school he knew the trumpet teacher at the time, and he said, “My son wants to play the trumpet. What should I get?” 

He used his credentials, give me a horn. So he brought a horn home and off we went. And I actually ended up taking from the trumpet teacher at CU in my early days. And that’s how I got started, but it was trumpet. There was no other, no. Flute? What’s a flute? 

Kathy: [laughs] That’s a good question. Well, we don’t need to go there. So tell me about, tell me, I’m interested to know what it was like this past year, this COVID year. Because Stephen, you’ve got a full-time gig, and Mr. C your combos and ensembles just stopped. I mean, everything stopped dead. The music world just stopped. What was that like for you?

Stephen: So for us, yeah. I mean, everything came to a grinding halt very quickly. One week we had three concerts in a row playing at nursing homes, veterans homes, just playing little 40 or so minute sets for these veterans. And yeah, one week we had three of those in a row. 

And then right at the end of that week, everything came to a grinding halt very quickly. We stopped coming into the office. We all took our computers home and everything. All of the gigs for the next several months were canned immediately. And so things came to a grinding halt there for a while. 

After a little bit, we were basically like, okay, we still have a job to do. Looking at it from a military perspective, we still have our mission. We still need to do what the bands do. We just can’t play for people in person anymore. So what does that look like? And for us, a lot of that took the form of making videos and recordings and things like that. 

So suddenly everybody was a student of the COVID school of audio engineering. People like me who had very little experience with sophisticated audio setups. We’re just like, “How does this work? How do I work a DAW? Like, how do I do all of these things?” I picked up video editing because we needed to make these videos. And they were kind of asking around in the band, “Who has experienced doing this?” Crickets.

And it seems like something interesting to do, and it seems like something productive to do. So I was like, put me in, coach. So I kind of threw myself in a fire a little bit and learned how to edit videos and put together those kinds of multi-pane, we call them Brady Bunch-style videos that everybody was putting on Facebook for a while, when live performances weren’t a thing. 

Eventually as protocols got more clear, we started to be able to play some ceremonies and stuff like that. When weather was nice last summer, we played a couple of live shows. We made some, comparatively to stuff that we had just been videoing on our phones, we made some high caliber holiday show productions in lieu of like a real holiday show. 

But yeah, there was still kind of like a lot of that feeling of what do we do? Yeah. A lot of solo practicing, just, just me in this room playing my Clark studies. Trying to stay in shape and trying to figure out ways to still enjoy playing the trumpet when playing with other people wasn’t a thing.

Kathy: If someone watching this were interested in and seeing one of those videos, could they do that? Are they find-able?

Stephen: They are. Yeah. So if you search for the USAF Heartland of America Band on Facebook, the videos are on Facebook. We’ve got a YouTube channel as well. Same kind of thing there.

USAF Heartland of America Band

Kathy: I imagine we have some folks that might want to follow you. Follow the band after hearing you speak. What did you do during COVID, Mr. C?

Mr. C: Well, that last part that Stephen mentioned, that in the room, practicing alone, trying to devise ways to be entertaining to me. I cleaned the crap out of my horn. I mean, my trumpet seriously to this day is so clean now I’m embarrassed about it. 

But one of the good days that I did accomplish was that, [Mr. C’s wife] Louise and one of my former students in Mexico, who’s a trombone teacher down here now, hooked me up with some private lessons with Bobby Shew. And so that happened, or I guess about the third month of being shut down. And that gave me something to do because Bobby was as crazy about the thing as anybody, but he has a system and he introduced me to his thing and pages of this and pages of that. But it included a lot of warm-up stuff and stuff just to get me back into caring about playing and playing better and actually doing some things that I hadn’t thought about.

I haven’t had a private lesson for 50 years. So it was kind of like, “Okay, let’s see, what do I do?” And we did it on Zoom and it was awkward for both of us and Bobby didn’t like it either. But so here’s these two old farts, going through stuff. And he still plays like a monster, although he’s had some really severe health issues, so he’s slowed down a lot, but he still has all his stuff. So that helped me. And then not too long after that. Well, I guess we’re talking months still, but Kathy here decides that it’s okay to have my combos meet and– 

Kathy: It was really more like the governor and the CDC, it wasn’t me. I don’t have that–

Mr. C: You’re it. [laughs] There’s a thing and she said, “Come on in and do some combos.” So we figured out how to do that. And man, I got back into it. It was the happiest day for a long time. 

So I’m meeting with two combos, now three coming up here in the summer and it’s working. And so I get to play in a real fashion and try to make things good. I wish you were around Stephen to contribute your challenge to my combo, because right now the old guys, some of them are still there you might even know, we need some pushing, right? We need a stud like you to come in the band room and go, “Oh no. It goes like this,” and that would be helpful. So if you’re in town, there is a gig for you anytime come over and bring your horn. 

And are you writing anything by the way now, are you writing charts, arrangements?

Stephen: I’ve done a little bit of arranging for the quintet and just kind of like messing around with some things in my own time. But I actually, we recorded the album a long time ago, pre-COVID actually, like almost immediately pre-COVID, but I helped start a band in college that started out as kind of like a folk jazz sort of fusion hybrid. And it’s grown and changed quite a bit since we started just like literally playing on the side of the street. 

But we recorded an album like immediately pre-COVID and the whole thing was just released last week. So we were waiting for kind of an opportune time when things weren’t super saturated. So that’s all original music. And I actually don’t do much of the writing for that, but most of that stuff is improvised. So yeah that’s kind of like another creative outlet sort of thing.

Mr. C: Is that available somehow?

Stephen: Yes. That’s on Spotify. We have social. The band is called Days and Nights. We have social media accounts and Facebook and things like that. But if you search for Days and Nights on Spotify or Apple Music or something like that, you’ll find us as well. Yeah.

Days and Nights band, Stephen Spink at left

Kathy: Well, what’s the album called?

Stephen: The album is called Breathe Speak Sing Groove.

Kathy: Okay. We’ll get that out there in the newsletter.

Mr. C: Say that again. The title.

Stephen: Album? Breathe Speak Sing Groove.

Kathy: That’s great. Congratulations. I didn’t know you were up to that.

Stephen: Oh, thank you.

Kathy: That’s very exciting.

Mr. C: Well, have you ever needed a vehicle to experiment with, I have three levels of combo now, but the advanced group and we can, if you got a chart you want to test out on something or the big band will start meeting again in September.

Kathy: Awesome.

Mr. C: So, if you write a chart and send it our way, it wouldn’t be glad to be your guinea pig.

Stephen: Sure thing. I’ve got an arrangement that I had to do for a school project, a big band arrangement of “On Green Dolphin Street,” kicking around on a computer somewhere. I’ll send that your way.

Mr. C: Oh cool. Cool.

Kathy: Okay. This is getting better and better, right? Because I want to hear you all play that in your fall concert. Okay? I can ask, right?

Stephen: If it’s good. It was a student effort. So if you think it sucks, then no obligation to play it.

Mr. C: Well that’s all right. Did you write an oboe part for it by any chance?

Stephen: I did not. I was tempted but no.

Kathy: A very good, very good idea to not have an oboe part in that. Yeah.

Mr. C: Kathy over there she’s an excellent… She doesn’t play anymore, but she could pick it up quickly. You might want to stick a part in there for oboe. 

Kathy: Yeah. We’ll find you a different oboe player then. Yeah. Wow, this is very fun. Yeah. When are you back in town?

Stephen: I actually don’t know yet. So we’ve got a period of kind of just like a blanket leave period after most of our shows this summer. So that’s like mid July, but I don’t have plans for that quite yet. Yeah. Tour came up with the band from Texas that I’m going to try to play with them for that. But yeah to actually answer your question, I’m not totally sure, but the next time I make it back, I’ll definitely let you know.

Kathy: Well, that’s pretty great. You know, we just kind of go after you and Daniel, because the school was in its infancy 20 years ago. And to come out the other end and have you, both of you actually, in the profession, is kind of rare in a family and kind of rare in a school like this, a community school. So it’s, again, really gratifying. It’s just really awesome to see what you’ve become and where you’re going. And yeah, we’re just pretty proud of you just have to say that.

Stephen: Well thank you.

Kathy: Yeah. And for anyone else watching the Spink family has a studio named, studio seven, just kind of right around the corner from where I am right now. And that’s also very cool because you can walk by and see the name of the studio and go, “Oh yeah, those guys.” It’s pretty meaningful from where I’m sitting anyway. 

So I just want to say thanks and thanks for taking the time to talk to us both. And I’m glad to have you, Mr. C, because there’s connections all over the place and yeah I’m pretty excited about having music back in life again. Yeah. It’s just amazing.

Stephen: I am too.

Kathy: Who knew there would be a pandemic and then we’d come out the other end of it. Yeah. Okay. Parting thoughts. Are we good?

Stephen: I guess just thank you. Thank you for reaching out, but kind of like a bigger thank you, Mr. C and everyone that makes CMA happen. I owe you a debt of gratitude that can’t really be put into words. So thank you for what you do. Thank you for what you have done. Thank you for building what you’ve built in a CMA. It’s a really incredible and pretty exceptional institution. So yeah keep fighting the good fight and thank you for what you do.

Mr. C: Stephen, from me to you buddy. Thank you. Thank you for coming my way. And thanks for keeping going and just do whatever you want to do, but keep doing it like you’re doing it and thanks for your service, man.

Stephen: Of course.

Mr. C: Thank you for your service and even if the Air Force gang is out this way I want to come hear you do that, especially if you have to do a parade, I want to see you in the parade. I want to see you doing that parade thing. Just kidding man. Thank you.

Kathy: Yeah. Thank you.