Back on the early '70s when Sean Altman was in the High School Chemistry Class, his mind often drifted from the composition of substances to the compositions of Paul Simon. He even daydreamed that Art Garfunkel would perish in a fiery car crash and that Paul would pluck him from school to sing in Art's place.
Of course, that dream never quite materialized. Instead, a grown-up Altman went on to form an a cappella group called Rockapella. He led the group for eleven years, which included five years and all 295 episodes of the PBS-TV series "Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?"-for which Altman composed their famous theme song. After leaving Rockapella, Altman began performing his own songs, releasing three solo CDs with number four currently in the works.
Six years ago, he met up with a young singer-songwriter named Jack Skuller at Joe's Pub where both were participating in a bi-monthly tribute series called Loser's Lounge which for two decades brought talent together to pay homage to some of rock's greatest songwriters such as Prince, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Burt Bacharach, Harry Nilsson, and Elvis Costello.
Their pairing was somewhat of a daydream come true. "I was 14 years old and a guest singer in the show" recalled Skuller. "Sean was the Garfunkel to my Simon for the song 'Mrs. Robinson,' and we had never met before. We both loved singing together-our voices seemed to gel immediately."
Altman, old enough to be his dad, clearly relished the chemistry he immediately forged with the precocious middle school kid. "I was really impressed with Jack's work ethic and vocal chops. I've always been a devotee of two-part harmony, and Jack's and my vocal blend was great".
The pair continued to hone their harmonies every year at Loser's Lounge, often doing songs by an act that was a huge influence to Simon and Garfunkel. "At almost every Losers Lounge tribute after that one, we would sing Everly Brothers songs backstage", said Skuller.. "We both both greatly appreciated their simplicity and beautiful harmonies. So we were able to bond over their catalogue".
Altman recalled the birth of their new project, called The Everly Set. "The occasional fun backstage jam led us to talk more seriously about working up a whole Everlys show, so last year — after Jack had graduated from high school and I got my first AARP card — we started working our favorite Everly Brothers tunes. Voila — the Everly Set was born!"
The pair will be bringing their harmonious tribute to Next Stage tomorrow night. Altman explained what attendees might expect. "Backed by Jeremy Chatzky on upright bass and Michael Hunter on percussion, Jack and I will play 20 or more Everly Brothers hits and B-sides, plus we'll sing a couple of other surprise favorites that demonstrate the Everlys' influence on Buddy Holly, The Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel. Our mission is to have an absolute blast playing songs we love, helping lapsed Everly fans reconnect with the songs of their youth, and — most importantly — to hook young music lovers who may never have even heard of the Everly Brothers."
Young Skuller — who plays the part of older brother Don Everly — is stoked to play in Southern Vermont with his sidekick. "When I sing and play guitar with Sean, I am at my peak level of joy in being a musician These melodies flow through our veins and have played a huge role in shaping us as individual performers throughout our careers. Harmonies are fun, and you can't get any better than these. With this music, you can't help but have a good time."
The Everly Set, will be at Next Stage on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at 15 Kimball Hill Road, Putney
Tickets are $20. For information visit nextstagearts.org or call 802-387-0102.