Professors Bring Oldies to Barracks
The Coprolites, (front from left) Maj. Scott Youngdahl, Col. Mac Baker, Col. Dave Livingston, (on drums) Col. John Brodie, and (at keyboard) Col. Jim Squire, perform in Old Barracks Courtyard. – Photo courtesy of Alyssa Ford ’14.
LEXINGTON, Va., May 31, 2012 – What do three math, engineering, and computer science professors, a music director, and a Spanish professor all have in common? Col. Dave Livingston, Col. Mac Baker, Col. John Brodie ’92, Col. Jim Squire, and Maj. Scott Youngdahl are members of an oldies band – they say they play “Jurassic” rock – that has taken concerts at VMI to whole new level.
“Yes, it is your grandfather’s rock and roll,” joked Baker during an April 27 performance in barracks.
And perhaps only a bunch of college professors would think to use the erudite term for fossilized dinosaur feces, “coprolite,” to name their band and point up its oldies theme. Baker explained how The Coprolites started out with just two members, Livingston and Squire.
“I was talking with Colonel Squire and, out of the blue, he asked if I played a musical instrument, which led to me joining on guitar,” Baker said.
Then, as fate would have it, they picked up drummer John Brodie. As the band was practicing in one of the cadet band rooms, Brodie’s head would peek in every so often to see what they were up to. “We saw the longing in Brodie’s eyes,” Livingston quipped.
Eventually they added bassist and guitarist Youngdahl, who was an asset to the band because he could switch between the two. In the band’s current configuration – some founding members have already retired and new members have joined – Youngdahl is usually on the guitar and Livingston on bass. And Squire is, as Brodie described him, the “mad genius” on keyboards.
Playing for the cadets for only their second time on April 27, the professors got everyone’s attention by setting up directly in front of Washington Arch in the Old Barracks Courtyard. With hits such as “Jet Airliner” by the Steve Miller Band, “Just What I Needed” by the Cars, “Shattered” by the Rolling Stones, and “I Will Survive” by CAKE, they held the Corps’ attention for a couple of hours that Friday afternoon.
A party atmosphere prevailed as cadets from all classes “loitered” on the stoop, lounging in chairs or leaning on the rail, sporting hats, sunglasses, and other leisure attire, most especially bathrobes. A game of “stickball,” in truest barracks tradition, enhanced the festive spirit of this late-semester event, so that cadets entering the courtyard inevitably stopped to listen.
Ike Hilmoe ’14, a student of both Squire and Baker, said he thought the band was great and noted that the two professors had talked with enthusiasm about performing in barracks for the cadets. Even in class they were encouraging cadets to attend and enjoy the show. Hilmoe said he enjoyed seeing talents his professors don’t display in the classroom and also seeing his professors enjoying themselves.
“We play the music we like,” said Livingston. “We also do bar mitzvahs and weddings.”
– Alyssa Ford ’14