The master had passed the instrument to his student as the student later passed it on to his great-grandson some eighty years later. A hand-crafted violin that had been brought to Brooklyn from Austria in the early 1920’s and was masterfully played by the Juilliard School protege. From a concert performance in Carnegie Hall at the age of thirteen to his own small band touring the Catskill Circuit, Joe was the consummate musician.
King Arthur, based in Philadelphia, was one of the nation’s first supermarket chains. King Arthur himself was an entrepreneur hungry for more and set his sights on New Jersey for his expansion. Arthur’s wife just so happened to be Joe’s older sister and it was she who first dangled the carrot. At the time, Joe was young and in love, but also a struggling artist at a time when playing violin in the orchestra pits of silent movie theaters proved hardly enough to get by on one’s own, no less to get married and start a family.
In the 1930’s, in Brooklyn in particular, that supermarket carrot was a golden ticket. King Arthur made an offer to Joe that was difficult to turn down. “Give up this crazy idea of being a musician for a living and come work for me”, he said. At twenty-five, Joe became the Regional Manager of King Arthur Supermarkets’ New Jersey Operations. He didn’t pick up that violin again for another forty years.
Fast forward to 1992. Mr. Phil was a promising techno-musician and producer in his early twenties when his father dangled that carrot in front of him to come join their family’s flooring business and abandon his passion. Duncan (see RockDove) dabbled in congas and other percussions while Wino, Little Jimmy, and the Barry brothers covered bass, guitar and even the banjo. On violin, Joe’s violin, was his great-grandson, Doodles. As a band, they only played together in front of a live audience for one performance. It was their first and their last show. Those Carpet Nights were made up of six young talented guys who were bought out of following their bliss by family members offering the world for a song.
“Fecundity” is that song. Their only song.