Guys in the Neighborhood play for fun

Just close your eyes and listen. For a few moments, it's possible to forget where you are - the library of a genteel retirement home in a Grand Haven neighborhood. Instead, you could be in a night club - sans the cigarette smoke, to be sure - listening to a band led by a swinging clarinetist and fronted by a singer whose familiar-sounding gritty voice is belting out the "St. Louis Blues.'
Tribune Staff
Dec 2, 2011

Abruptly, though, the mood is demolished by a wholesome rendition of “White Christmas.” Singer Richard “Buzz” Hemwall shifts from his convincing Louis Armstrong vocals and edges closer toward Bing Crosby.

Such is a recent rehearsal for The Guys in the Neighborhood Band, as members ready for a Dec. 19 concert at Zeeland’s Creekside Middle School. A few residents of Christian Haven Home sit in for the rehearsal, appreciating every tune.

Founded in 2006, The Guys in the Neighborhood started out as a small group of musicians who lived “around the same neighborhood,” said drummer John Seylhower. Unlike ensembles that specialize in a particular genre or period, this group of nine veteran musicians plays all over the musical map, from 1920s jazz through more recent medleys from “Fiddler on the Roof” and the “Godfather” movies — with funny stories thrown in for good measure.

Albergo played clarinet with a number of concert bands. He formed The Guys in the Neighborhood with Seylhower, trumpeter Barry Rowland, bass guitarist Jim Blum and accordionist Gary Rupar.

After Blum left the group, baritone sax player Terry Hollar, who also does vocals, eventually was enlisted to fill in the lower registers. The saxophone section is rounded out by Jim Root on tenor and Larry Waters on alto. Walter Perry plays piano and keyboards.

“We play for the love of music,” Waters said. “Everyone’s real close and it’s always fun to play near the audience, to make eye contact and see their smiles. But mostly it’s the camaraderie, the friendship. It just keeps us going.”

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

— By Janet Tyson, Tribune correspondent

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