RISD 20 Years ago - Flashback Friday #3

Anyone who went to RISD with me can tell you I was a John Belushi fan. No, not just a fan, more like a geek for him.

I had his movie posters hung in my room, 3 out of my 4 halloween years in Providence I dressed as the SNL samurai character, Jake Blues and Wild Bill Kelso from 1941. At every party I would be the first on the dance floor for the song "SHOUT" (come on and shout now) from the toga party scene in Animal House, if I didn't put the song on myself.

I taught myself to cock/raise my eyebrow because ... Belushi could.

Hell, I even hurt myself in freshman year because of him. When a group of us where on our way to a party at nearby Brown University, I changed my mind and started home. Lois Theisen yelled out...

"Would John Belushi go home?"

I spun around and ran back. To catch up and be funny, I tried to jump down a staircase leading to my friends and landed dislocated my knee and giving my tibia a small fracture. I still feel it during long days on my feet today...thanks younger Dave...ya stupid idiot.

Junior year brought the 3rd annual RISD "AIR BAND" competition. It was a brief 80's craze just mouthing the words to songs before, ya know, what Britney, Christina, Janet and of course the Simpson sister does professionally in concert.

Of course the "Blues Brothers" had to make an appearance. It was a momentous event, it combined the first annual, first place winner-Dave LoCasio as Elwood and the past year's third place winners - Pete Whitehead on bass and me as Jake (we had done a Supreme's song as lumberjacks with friend, J.P. Terry as lead singer).

The full band was rounded out with Steve Miller, Mike O'Bierne, George Varga, John Rufo and (I'm sorry, feeble old man brain here) some freshman named Nick (I think, feel really guilty here over not remembering him).

We rehearsed in the basement of the Congdon house (campus housing) watching the Blues Brothers doing Soul Man from the Best of John Belushi on SNL video . We even slipped in the classic dance moves from the movie.

Sondae Ozark taught me how to do Jake's trademark cartwheel, well, she more spotted me than taught. Basically she showed me how and then just kept me from crashing into things as I tried to do one over and over.

The night of the competition, host Lee Wolf ( friend, resident campus stand up and fellow Belushi fan) gave us a great intro as we opened the show. Dave and I with the band playing walked from the back of the audience and did the whole bit pulling the harmonica from the hand cuffed briefcase once getting on stage.

Reality and stage fright hit as we took the stage. But then when I did my cartwheel hitting the last beat of the opening music before we started lip syncing our song, the audience cheered and I got a huge rush. The rest of the performance singing Soul Man was a blur but too much fun. We got second place. I can't remember who the first place winner was.

Dave LoCasio (Elwood) was an experienced skater and could dance. He easily picked up on the Blues Brothers ...left foot - hop, right foot - hop and kick... move from the concert scene in the movie. I just could not get it (or at least in sync with him). I finally nailed it in one of the practices. It was a nice moment, I felt really good about myself. Silly, I know but one of those recessed good feeling memories that you never forget. Pretty sure I screwed it up in the actual performance though.

As far as I know there is no video of the show. I'm glad because our performance was probably painfully lame, dated and amateur (despite foggy rose colored 20 year old memory) . I like the still pictures because if you squint a little... you might actually think we were good.

Ironic memory... being told afterwards I should of put a pillow in my shirt to look more like a fat Jake Blues. I thought the comment was crazy. I had always been fat and thought I was then (thinner than high school, yes, but still felt overweight). I look at these pictures now and wish I looked that thin again.

I know I have a wide picture including the whole band somewhere but I'm still looking for it. I'll update once I find it.

Read fellow 20 year alum and friend, Megan Jeffery's latest RISD Flashback Friday.


  1. Oh, yeah, I remember this! The photos are wonderful. The B&W shot of you is great: nice foot action you got goin' on there...

    And thanks for the memories of the prior year's talent show, too... the Lumberjack thing!

    Dave LoCasio was always such a good dancer, I remember trying to look like I was dancing like him at a party (i.e. doing the Moonwalk) and he 'caught me', lol. Whoopsies.

    Yeah, why was it that EVERY.SINGLE. Brown frat party played "Shout"? Not that I'm complaining, it was such a fun thing to dance to. I remember being with Mark Nayden and Sue Bennett and Nanci Van Slyke and others, and we'd form a circle with ourselves and dance to that. Good times. We are going to HAVE TO have that as a song for the reunion. I'm afraid I must insist, and there are no two ways about it. :-)

    (A big 'Amen' to looking back at your old photos and wondering why you were so self-conscious at that age.)

  2. I grew up in New Providence, NJ and many a young man went to bed dreaming about Nanci Van Slyke. She was hot !