Professors rockin’ outside classroom

Brandon Zeris, Copy Editor

As many professors receive praise for their classroom efforts, some also have been applauded for their music contributions.

Psychology professor John Mullennix said he was in a punk band 30 years ago called The Cracked.

“We played around the time punk was just starting to become popular, and we played in these punk underground parties,” he said. “Our drummer was ‘born again’ and that was pretty much the end of our run.”

He said his inspiration was the band Black Sabbath.

“On my bucket list is to learn every riff of every Black Sabbath song.”

Mullennix said he has always played music, but lately he has dabbled in something different.

“I’ve gotten into playing the Conga drums,” he said. Natural Sciences Division Chair Steve Stern said he plays some rock and blues along with some originals, including a song about Chinese food.

And while geography professor Ola Johansson does not perform, he said he has found another way to contribute to the industry.

“I have been stage manager for the Flood City Music Festival for the past seven or eight years,” he said.

He said he worked with up-and-comers Grace Potter and Galactic, along with legend Gregg Allman who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with his band, The Allman Brothers Band.

“When they were in town, I even drove them from the airport,” he said.

Johansson also coauthored a book with his former professor, Tom Bell, titled “Sound, Society and the Geography of Popular Music.”

“I was looking for a new research topic and (Bell’s) interest came from his son’s music career and he wanted to fi nd how it could relate to geography,” he said.

“His son was Brian Bell, a member of the band Weezer.”

Physics professor Allan Walstad said he has played acoustic guitar since he was 9 years old and took lessons for four years.

“I thought I would be good at everything like in school, but I wasn’t. I stopped playing for a while and picked it up again later, and got better,” he said.

Walstad said The Beatles, especially George Harrison, inspired him and that he continues to play today.

“Every once in a while I hear a song and I will be tinkering around, play something, remember a song and think, ‘Hey, I can play that.’”

He said he has played at Dively’s “Jam Night” at 10 p.m. every Wednesday for the past 11 years. He said it is an acoustic open-microphone event with a turnout ranging from only a few people to around 100.

“That’s all I need to keep me playing.”