GREAT SCOTT

Great Scott

by Jennifer Sue

A Memorial Day Tribute:

On the warm early April Saturday morning the eighth grade boys sounded pretty good as they rocked out in the garage of the Thompson home, especially for their age. The four boys had been playing together for nearly a year, switching from home to home as they drove their parents crazy with their pounding efforts. They knew they sounded good but there was something missing. They just couldn’t figure what.

The four were at least third generation Irish American and had inherited the Irish gift for music. Each had at least one parent who played an instrument so there was positive encouragement. The parents were close friends and lived within a half mile of each other. It wasn’t unusual for the youngsters to join their parents in jam sessions at barbeques. Gill (Gillian) Sweeney played keyboards, concertina and the fiddle. Ryan Connelly played percussion, Met (Emmet) O’Toole played bass guitar, bouzouki and banjo. Art (Arthur) Thompson played lead guitar, bouzouki and banjo. Together they played classic rock, a bit of metal, and quite naturally Celtic music.

Whenever they practiced at their home, Tay (Taylor) Thompson, Art’s sixth grade brother, enjoyed listening to the older guys jam. Normally he didn’t attempt to hang with his brother and friends. They were not bad guys but they were most certainly rough and tumble guys, something that the more intellectual Tay most definitely was not. The quartet was playing CCRs LONG AS I CAN SEE THE LIGHT but even he knew their rendition was coming up short. With a smile he scooted out of the garage only to return a few minutes later with his saxophone.

The boys were discussing the song when they saw Taylor return. “Please, play that again. I’d like to accompany you.”

The boys knew CCR had a sax on the original, so with shrugs and nods, they set up to replay the song. As they launched into the song, Tay couldn’t help but sing along. Art, the main vocalist of the group pursed his lips in approval and stopped. “Let’s restart with Tay singing with me. Our voices seems to fit the song better than mine alone.”

Tay smiled and blushed. When they began to play, Art and Tay sang together and Tay played the sax where appropriate. No one said a word when the song finished. The four older boys exchanged smiles and nodded.
CCR
“That was it!” Gill finally said. “No offense, Art, but together with Tay’s voice we hit the mark! That and the sax, it’s what we’ve been missing! Tay, would like to join the group?”

Tay’s eyes grew big as a full face grin lit up his face. “You bet!”

They spent another two hours going over their repertoire, tweaking their play as needed to get the sound they wanted. The older boys found what they had been missing in Tay. They were excited and looked forward to expanding their playlist.

Excited by their improved sound they wanted to perform in public. Their parents were at first reluctant towards the idea until they actually heard them play. Then they supported the kids.

Knowing that the local community had an annual Memorial Day picnic in the town park and that local talent provided free entertainment. The eager youngsters wanted to sign up to perform but needed a name for their group. The kids added a few Memorial Day appropriate songs to their list. They sat during practice breaks, writing name ideas on paper then suggesting it to the group. A lot of ideas came up and went down. They wanted something that was distinctive and unique to them without being cutesy or ridiculous.

As he doodled on a tablet, Tay started giggling. The others looked at him trying to figure out what he found so amusing.

“Great Scott!” Tay exclaimed with a huge grin.

The confusion on the faces of the others was still quite evident.

“Great Scott, that’s us, the band,” Tay smiled. “We’re Great Scott!”

“That’s a dumb name,” Art shook his head as the others agreed.

“No it’s not, it’s us,” Tay insisted as he wrote on the tablet then raised to show them what he’d written.

They frowned in confusion as they saw what he’d written.

Gillian Sweeney
Ryan Connolly
Emmet O’Toole
Arthur Thompson
Taylor Thompson

“Look close,” Tay insisted. “The first letter of our first name spells GREAT, the first letter of our last names spells SCOTT! We’re GREAT SCOTT!”

The boys frowned as they stared at their names, then glanced at Tay, then at each other. Smiles formed on their faces as they began to nod. From that moment on, they were Great Scott.

The organizers of the event offered an open stage so they couldn’t turn down the eager band. Concerned that such a young group could drive away the audience, they placed them as the last act.

As the day approached they fine tuned their selections. Tay asked the question none of the others had considered. What would they wear?

With their Irish heritage all five boys were redheads. The thirteen year old boys had blue eyes and wore their hair in long skater boy styles similar to early Justin Bieber. Eleven year old green eyed Tay was lightly freckled and wore his hair in the same style but had missed a few trims so his hair now brushed across his shoulders and often draped across his face. They decided to wear blue jeans and Kelly green T-shirts.

Memorial Day dawned sunny and bright, warm but not too hot with a gentle breeze. The boys partook in the festivities anxiously waiting their turn on the stage. As usual the food and games were a hit. As they were making their way through the throng someone turned unexpectedly and tripped over Tay spilling a cup full of Coke on the startled boy. Soaked, he headed for his parents. When she saw what had happened, his mom drove him home to have a quick shower and change clothes. None of his remaining jeans were blue. The only blue jeans he had was a pair of cut off jean shorts so that was what he put on. The only green T-shirt he had was lime green. Reluctantly he put that on and hurried back to the park.

The other guys accepted his explanation that he’d done his best to match what they wore. Meanwhile individuals and other groups took their turn on the stage to light cheers and applause. While entertaining, none of the entertainers had been able to fill the seating before the stage. The audience smiled as the youngsters took to the stage quickly setting up their equipment with the help of their parents. Seeing the drums, keyboards, and guitars, several quietly rose and left the seating area.

As they finished setting up and took their places, Tay sat on a chair in the center with his Irish bagpipes on his lap. That drew surprised gazes from those still watching.

Seeing they were ready the MC came on stage. “The last act of the day is a local group of youngsters in their first public performance. Please welcome GREAT SCOTT!”

There was a brief polite scattered applause. Then Ryan began beating out the familiar opening of WE WILL ROCK YOU. That drew the attention of many outside the immediate area. When the intro finished, they rest joined in with Tay letting rip on the Irish pipes. They seamlessly slipped into I LOVE ROCK AN ROLL.
Celtica

Hearing the well played familiar rock tunes with the addition of bagpipes drew many to the stage.

By the time the medley ended the seating area had nearly filled with the curious who rewarded the youngsters with eager applause.

Knowing Tay was not afraid of speaking publicly and could handle the task well, the group had appointed him spokesperson. He smiled and spoke into the mike. “Hello, we’re GREAT SCOTT, which is an acronym of our first and last names. This is our first public appearance but we’ve put a lot of practice into the set we’ve planned for tonight. While have no intentions of messing up, please excuse any errors if we do. Now, on with the show!”

With that they launched into another medley, SMOKE ON THE WATER/SCOTLAND THE BRAVE. Celtica2 The strange sounding blend of rock and Irish pipes drew more people in until the seats were filled and it was standing room only. The resounding applause at the end filled the kids with great joy.

“Thank you,” Tay spoke. “I’d like to introduce the members of GREAT SCOTT. On keyboards is Gillian Sweeney. On percussion is Ryan Connolly. Emmet O’Toole is on bass. My big brother Arthur Thompson is on lead Guitar. I’m Taylor Thompson, the baby of the group. Now that we’ve rocked out for a bit, we’d like to perform several songs we find appropriate for this day of remembrance. First is a song by Eric Burden and the Animals called SKY PILOT.” Sky
With that they launched into the song. The playing was spot on and Tay’s vocals were clear and full of emotion. Many younger people had never heard the song while for the older folks it brought back some fond and not so fond memories. During the instrumental interlude in the song Tay again played a portion of Scotland the Brave on the bagpipes. The applause at the end was universal. By this time nearly everyone in the park had gathered to hear the youngsters.

“Thank you,” Tay smiled. “Our next selection is the song BROTHERS by Dean Brody. By the way, it’s alright to dab your tears.” Bro They launched into the ballad and once more Tay sang with heart rending emotion. Gill switched from keyboards to fiddle for the number. After the last verse Tay picked up his sax and played along in a soft but haunting wail as the song ended. Many were dabbing at tears by the time he finished. The applause was clearly from the heart.

“Thanks again,” Tay smiled. “Our next selection was written and performed by Big and Rich. It’s about an actual event that occurred during the War in Vietnam. We present THE 8TH OF NOVEMBER.”
NovThe song had many of those who lived through the tumultuous times reliving their memories. Many of the Vietnam Vets had their heads bowed as they struggled to hold back their tears. The applause was once more from the heart. Everyone was impressed and delighted with the young group.

“We’d like to close the night on a high note. Even though none of us were born then, this song was written in response to the 9-11 attacks. We think it speaks to and about the people of our country expressing our determination and grit. Our closing number was written and performed by Toby Keith, COURTESY OF THE RED, WHITE AND BLUE.” RWB The song began slowly and Tay’s voice rang out loud and clear. The gleam in his eyes revealed he meant every heartfelt word. The audience rose to their feet clapping in time to the music. Cheers erupted during every chorus. When the song ended, the cheers and applause continued for several minutes as the kids stood, clearly humbled, and bowed in acknowledgment.

The head of the entertainment committee came on stage clapping as he walked. “Weren’t they fantastic!” He lead the appreciative audience in another rousing round of applause. “Now, I have a confession to make. On behalf of the entertainment committee I need to apologize to these talented youngsters. When they signed up, we were afraid they were going to be a bunch of under prepared wanna be rock stars. We intentionally placed them last on today’s lineup in case they were terrible and drove the audience away. Obviously we couldn’t have been more wrong! I don’t think we could have had a better ending for today’s entertainment than GREAT SCOTT! We’re fortunate these four young teenagers let the younger sister of one of them join the group! Her vocals were astounding and her playing was superb! Let’s give GREAT SCOTT another round of applause!”

Once more the applause was loud, long and enthusiastic for the local kids. The five exchanged looks of shock and delight. Delight in that their musical abilities were recognized and shock that they thought Tay was a girl! The group grinned and silently bore the faux pas.

Naturally the others ragged Tay for the cross gender misunderstanding. Tay was not happy about the error but by the time he recovered from the shock it was too late to correct the error. As they dismantled their gear the festivities wound down. Quite a few people came up to the band to praise them before heading home.

The group and parents gathered at the Thompson home to unpack the gear and congratulate the kids. It was only when they watched the video Lynne Thompson had shot of the kid’s performance that they all began to understand how Tay had been misidentified. The older boys had similar hair styles and were dressed nearly identically in their blue jeans and Kelly green shirts. With his longer hair, blue jean shorts and lime green shirt, Tay’s outfit complimented what the guys wore but did make him look distinctly girlish. Coupled with his high preteen voice his appearance had been feminine.

Tay shivered. He was the first to admit he’d never been even remotely macho and had never fit in with other guys. However he’d never thought he wasn’t a guy. But the video of their performance showed four teen boys and a cute preteen girl. While shocked, he wasn’t really upset. Now that he had seen himself as feminine he couldn’t unsee it... and it didn’t feel bad. In fact it felt somehow right. It definitely needed exploration.



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