For some Scarsdale High School alumni, music is the glue that keeps them together.
“We have such a vast network of like-minded folks all sort of tethered to this, this thing around music,” said Doug Schneider, class of ’90, a drummer in the band Greetings from Anywhere.
To celebrate the high school’s centennial — which was officially in 2017 — the SHS Alumni Association coordinated a reunion open to all alumni May 11 that included a panel discussion during the day and a separate musical event that night at Garcia’s, the lobby bar of the Capitol Theater in Port Chester.
The bands Skyfactor and Greetings from Anywhere, both of which have members who graduated from SHS, played to a crowded Garcia’s late into the night. The event concluded with the first-ever SHS Alumni Super Jam, which welcomed alumni from different classes to the stage to sing or play.
Throughout the night, the audience belted song lyrics and danced along to each band’s loud sound and energetic stage presence.
Players in the super jam included Patti Rothberg ’90, Mike Dwyer ’85, Peter Karp ’91, Stu Damm ’90, Rob Wolfson ’73, Adam Dell ’90, Greg de Sousa ’91, Tom Dwyer ’85, Greg Alkalay ’93, Adam Friedman ’92, Cliff Rubin ’83, Jon Rubin ’91, Ross Kaye ’92, Lee Gross ’92 and Schneider.
Jam participants played Grateful Dead and classic rock covers.
“Scarsdale has a long legacy of Deadheads and Deadhead musicians so it just seemed right to get this group together,” said Schneider.
Although the jam was spontaneous, the alumni rehearsed together a few days before to create some structure.
Rothberg, a professional singer-songwriter, sang and played tambourine during the jam. It was appropriate, she said, for an SHS alumni event to be focused on music.
“The music [during high school] transformed people’s entire personalities, let’s put it that way,” she said.
Jon Rubin, the guitar player in his band Skyfactor, said he and his brother, Cliff, the band’s bassist, have been playing together “since we were in the halls of Scarsdale High School many, many moons ago.” They formed Skyfactor, which has an acoustic-based rock and pop sound, more than 10 years ago on a rooftop in New York City. Their music has been featured on MTV’s “Teen Mom” and the band has played in several New York City venues, according to the band’s website. They released a new album, “A Thousand Sounds,” this year.
Jon Rubin said when he attended SHS there were always concerts sponsored by the high school, he said.
“One band would be playing Grateful Dead songs, and the next band would be playing Metallica songs, and then my band would be playing Led Zeppelin songs,” he said. “Everyone was friends, but everyone had different interests. But it was all very connected through this support and love of music.”
Greetings from Anywhere came together over a decade ago in Dobbs Ferry. The band’s country sound is fostered by many SHS alumni, including bassist Adam Friedman, acoustic guitarist/banjoist Andrew Schriever and Schneider. Lead vocalist Sheila Noonan-Gorham is married to an SHS alumnus.
Sarah Haimowitz-Schriever, who lives in Dobbs Ferry, came to see her husband, the guitarist and banjoist in Greetings from Anywhere, perform.
“It’s exciting to see him,” she said. “It’s exciting … to have these two parts of my life come together — growing up in Scarsdale and now living in Dobbs Ferry.”
Vocalist Noonan-Gorham said she feels like she is “homegrown Scarsdale” despite not attending SHS. When she and her husband moved to Dobbs Ferry, she was looking for a musical group to play in for fun. One morning at his child’s bus stop, Noonan-Gorham’s husband saw Schneider and remembered him from SHS.
“It turns out they [had a] whole conversation and Doug mentions to my husband that he’s in a band — a local band — and the lead singer has just quit and they are looking for another singer,” she said.
She has been in the band for almost 10 years and members of Greetings from Anywhere have turned into her best friends.
The event’s organizer, Prem Hira, ’88, and Schneider reached out to Skyfactor to play at the alumni event due to the history between the two bands, according to Jon Rubin. Five years ago, Greetings from Anywhere and Skyfactor played at Garcia’s together for the first time.
“It was cool to hear Greetings from Anywhere had such deep Scarsdale ties, as do we. It just seemed logical to start doing some shows together and over the years we have,” Jon Rubin said.
Hira, who is not a musician but is an avid music fan, told the Inquirer when he heard of the alumni association’s daytime event, he immediately thought “who’s having the after party?” The alumni association encouraged him to organize an event afterward to keep the fun going.
“I love bringing people together, whether it’s parents and kids hanging out on a ballfield or bringing a bunch of friends to go out to play music,” said Hira, who is an Edgewood resident and devoted member of the Scarsdale community. “They both give me great joy.”
While the band members all have families and day jobs, Jon Rubin said their bands’ longevity shows how important music is to them and their peers.
“Since we all write our own music and we really are pursuing some level of success with that to supplement our normal lives [and] the fact that we do that all these years later — you can’t really do that without some sort of support system from your fans and friends,” he said.