Nile C. Kinnick High School’s band hosted their first Pro Day and invited a touring jazz bass guitarist to hold a masterclass Friday, November 3.
Norm Stockton, wrapping a five-week international tour, made a visit to his alma mater after making stops in multiple locations in Canada, Singapore, and throughout Japan.
The Red Devils Class of ’83 member held a solo performance for the students in the school’s band room, a converted auto shop with the random pipes, symmetrically large, square floor and all of the unique acoustics one would expect a former garage to provide a Fender Rumble Bass Cabinet.
But Stockton doesn’t remember the former auto shop. When he was a student here, the students studied in a different building then; a building that was torn down to build a new Kinnick. Which, in turn, was torn down to build the Kinnick where he was currently instructing.
“I’m from two Yo-Hi’s ago,” Stockton said referring to the school’s nickname.
Soon, it will be three generations of Yo-Hi. The future Kinnick is currently under construction on the other side of the installation.
At present-day Kinnick, Stockton taught the kids how to read a rhythm chart, and talked about how playing music can help “emote feelings that are impossible to do in words, art, or any other form of expression.”
“Even if you decide not to continue your music studies in college or turn it into a career, I highly encourage each and every one of you to continue to play music everyday as a way to connect with your own spirituality,” Stockton said.
Stockton’s path to leading this musicians’ masterclass was far from typical. He’s one of three children. His two siblings were “protégé level pianists.” Stockton, who is half-Japanese and lived in the country for 13 years before moving to southern California, said he never felt like he connected with the piano as his mother had hoped.
“I was really into The Beetles, which wasn’t really a cool band to be in to back in the 80’s. That was my gateway to other forms of music. Other ways to express myself. That was what really got me hooked. But it was a cassette tape I received that opened a new world to me. It was an album by a band called Rush.” Stockton stopped to ask if the students were aware of what a cassette tape is. One student assured him that he had seen Guardians of the Galaxy. “I could feel the music; I felt sadness, I felt anger, I felt joy. The only way I could communicate those emotions to anyone else was through the bass,” Stockton continued to say.
Unlike the 21 students Stockton mentored that afternoon, he was never a member of the Red Devil band. Instead, he joined Sailors at various locations around the installation to jam and perform for small groups.
“I don’t know how many hours I spent at the Youth Center teaching myself the bass,” Stockton said pointing over his shoulder. “It’s still right around the corner, right?”
The building is still located where he remembers, though the facility across the street from it is now the Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society Thrift Shop.
But nostalgic trips while reminiscing of Yokosuka’s yesteryears wasn’t the goal of this visit. Stockton’s own website says he hopes to inspire, educate and groove. He’s just as excited about the next generation of artists, professionals and leaders. If there’s one thing Stockton hoped the students took away, it may be to always give full effort at every opportunity, because “people trust their friends’ recommendations.”
“Much of my career is based on taking gigs and giving each job everything I had,” Stockton said. “Even in the diviest of dive clubs — in places where we only expected six people in the audience if everyone in the band brought their girlfriend — I still gave it everything, because it built my reputation of being a professional, an entertainer, and someone who is just a good hang, someone who’s not going to cause drama. Word gets around.”
Stockton ended his trip at Club Alliance. The building housing the second generation of the club opened in May 1983, right around the time of Kinnick’s graduation ceremony. Once again at home in CFAY MWR-operated facility, Stockton performed for Sailors and other members of the community before joining in the evening’s scheduled Yoko Jam Sessions where he grooved alongside local amateur musicians.
Just as he had all of those years ago.
|Date Posted:||11.06.2023 22:28|
|Location:||YOKOSUKA, KANAGAWA, JP|