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By Kate Daly
Special to the Almanac
What do middle-age guys do for fun? Some play golf every week while others may bike or play poker. Six dads in Menlo Park have found their weekly formula for fun: rocking and rolling in a garage on San Mateo Drive.
The Members is a garage band made up of men in their 40s and 50s who used to play in bands when they were younger, but went on to pursue careers in other fields.
They all have day jobs, are married, and had let music slide to the background for the most part.
Then, five years ago, after the original four dads met through their kids' activities and found they shared a mutual interest in playing music, they decided to form a band.
They called themselves The Shivering Members because it was so cold in February when they started to rotate around to each other's garages. Now that they have added two more musicians to the mix, they simply call themselves The Members and practice in the same garage every week.
They perform for free at about eight events a year. For the second year in a row, the band will be playing at the Sacred Heart Preparatory Booster Club's cioppino dinner for more than 250 people at the school on Jan. 29.
Two of the band members, Rod Scherba and Jeff Bird, have children at the school. The band's sound engineer, Steve Dunne of Portola Valley, is a former SHP parent and the only empty nester in the bunch.
Mr. Scherba estimated the band has raised about $100,000 over the years playing at various local charity events, parties, picnics, dances and dinners "for fun, charity and community."
"We don't charge because we want to help the community," he said, specifying the band does no weddings, bar mitzvahs, or funerals.
"We try to make sure events will raise a pretty substantial sum of money because while it's a labor of love for us, it can be very time consuming," he explained.
All of the band members sing and play instruments so their play list features some 90 titles with a lot of vocals and harmonies, including songs by The Eagles, Rolling Stones, and more contemporary groups such as Green Day, Counting Crows, Foo Fighters and Goo Goo Dolls.
When original band member Roger Inman described their repertoire as "eclectic," he could also be talking about himself. The band plays in his garage, which is filled with gear from Interweave Production Group, his audio and technical business for corporate clients and broadcast television. Right after the SHP gig he's dashing off to go work for Fox Sports on the Super Bowl.
Mr. Inman plays rhythm guitar and percussion in the band. He started playing piano when he was 9, the drums in high school, and then picked up the guitar later on, taking lessons when his kids went to school.
He met Mr. Scherba through their kids' kindergarten. Mr. Scherba plays lead guitar, an instrument he has been playing since he was 16. He works for Cornish & Carey in commercial real estate.
Rich Johnson works for California Mortgage and Realty. He has played the bass since he was 14 and now plays harmonica and pedal steel guitar, too. He met fellow founding band member, Allen Weiner, when their sons were soccer teammates on the Strikers.
Mr. Weiner is the drummer. He works at Stanford Law School and admitted he would play drums for a living "if you could guarantee a decent income." He has been playing drums since elementary school, but sold his drum set when he went off to college and didn't play for 20 years until joining this band of dads.
Both of Mr. Weiner's sons are musical and have jammed with the band on occasion. One son plays bassoon in the Peninsula Youth Orchestra and electric bass guitar. The other plays saxophone and does vocals.
Mr. Bird is The Members' lead vocalist and guitarist when he's not working as a venture capitalist for Sutter Hill Ventures. Mr. Johnson said he was attending a fundraiser and "Jeff Bird was there in his Tom Petty outfit, in top hat and tails, and I invited him in to the band."
The latest addition to the band is Dr. Scott Wachorst, a neurosurgeon at El Camino Hospital. He plays keyboards and does vocals but sometimes misses rehearsals because he has to make rounds at night, plus he has younger kids.
"It's getting harder to practice," Mr. Johnson observed, because there are so many conflicts. Halloween night would seem to be one, but The Members have turned it into a neighborhood event that includes their families. The band started out playing for the kids in the area three years ago, and now the concert has become a block party with a couple of hundred people milling around Oakdell Drive and Lemon Street.
Mr. Dunne works for Verizon Business and usually focuses on sound for the band, but he said he enjoyed singing and playing guitar at the most recent Halloween party.
When asked how the families feel about the band members spending so much time together, he joked, "Our wives are our groupies."
Mr. Johnson said one of the biggest benefits of playing with friends is "if I am grumpy from work, I go home happier. Playing music is a good stress reliever. … It's like being back in the frat boy days. It takes you back to simpler times."
Visit membersbandmenlopark.com for more information about the band and to hear some of their songs.