DIRIGO STORIES: Group of musicians revives love of music in retirement
YARMOUTH (WGME) – A group of musicians is reconnecting with their youth through a music program geared toward people 55-years and older.
“They’re their own little nation down there now,” said Chris Moore, the Director of Music Education at 317 Main in Yarmouth.
Down in the basement of the music center, seven musicians and their teacher meet every Wednesday morning to learn, play, and explore folk music.
“The only way I can say it is, it tickles my soul, somehow,” said Dick Merrick, a guitar player in the group.
Body and soul, the musicians have thrown themselves into their folk revival group – reconnecting with their instruments, and their favorite genre of music.
“I played a little bit and then life got in the way,” said Jim Atherton, the group’s bass player. “I picked it up again in my 40’s.”
“I started playing in high school, but then put it down for 30 years,” said Bob Bergesch, a banjo player.
“We raised four kids so sometimes life got busy,” said Merrick. “I’d put it down for 10 years at a time.”
“Now it’s a whole new world,” Merrick said.
It's the new world of retirement. Each member – all in their 70’s – had high-powered careers and put music on hold to pursue them.
Merrick spent his career as a psychologist. Atherton and his wife, Barbara, who is also in the group, were financial analysts in Washington D.C. Bergesch was a banker in New York City.
“I’m a little bit better than high school, but not much!” Bergesch said.
The other members have similar stories. Jeff White, a guitarist, was a partner at Pierce Atwood in Portland. Guitarists Chip Foye and Jim Shaffer, spent their careers in Maine’s banking industry and media industry, respectively.
The group has given the musicians new purpose, new friendships, and a new name. They’ve decided to call themselves “Unspent Youth.”
“We didn’t misspend our youth!” said Atherton. “Most of us were busy climbing the career ladder and getting ahead.”
They’re now climbing musical scales, and stretching their limits.
“This is one of the few things people our age can actually get better at as you go on,” said Bergesch.
Time is now on their side. A folk revival in retirement.