From textbooks to sheet music, professors rock onstage

by Zoe Seiler, Staff Reporter

Professors have a busy schedule between teaching classes and attending meetings. It can be hard to spend time with family and friends outside of campus. However, three Simpson professors find time to perform together in a band.

Professors Mark Green, David Wolf and Mark Juffernbruch are in a band called The Sonny Humbucker Band.

Green helped start the band about 15 years ago when vocalist and Simpson alumnus Thom Wright came back to Des Moines, who was previously in a well-known band, the Rathbones. Green was set on forming a band with him.

The band practices when schedules line up, which can be difficult, but they make it work.

“It’s harder to get everybody together for practices due to family and work obligations, but everybody knows what the arrangements are. And it all comes together quickly even when we’ve been away from it for a while,” Green said. “However, like anything else in life, if it’s a priority everybody finds a way. We’re all engaged with the music, so we find a way.”

The band has mostly performed at Central Iowa at Vaudeville Mews, Des Moines Arts Festival and the National Balloon Classic among others. They mostly play covers and have a variety of songs from which to choose.

“In Sonny Humbucker we have literally a couple of hundred songs to choose from. Some are regulars in the set list; others have been neglected because we played them for a while and then moved on,” Green said.

Wolf also started another band with Green, Weather Beacon Blue, during a hiatus with the Sonny Humbucker Band. This band plays original songs written by Wolf and their bassist.

“Two of my dear musician friends from years past approached me for a jam session. I had some originals marinating, and I asked if they would be game to form a new band,” Wolf said.

Weather Beacon Blue performs every two months at the Star Bar in Des Moines.

Both professors have grown up with a passion for music. Wolf said he has listened to music since he was a kid and was influenced by his brother and grandma.

“Music ruled the household, and I was a more than humble servant. I took up the guitar and resumed piano from grade-school lessons when I was 14 or so and have been playing in bands ever since,” he said.

Members said playing in a band can be fun from traveling to playing music to interacting with the audience and that music brings people together.

“The guys in the band are like a brotherhood. We enjoy hanging and relating to each other through a mutual love of the music. Also, music serves an important social role. It brings people together as an audience. It creates community. It’s a diversion from the wear and tear of everyday life,” Green said.

The Sonny Humbucker Band will perform at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Star Bar at 2811 Ingersoll Ave. All ages are welcome. Admission is free.