The Ancient Mariners started when two (ancient) professors in MIT’s Ocean Engineering Department (mariners) were asked to play clarinet/piano duets for a special MIT event. They were soon joined by the aluminum bass fiddle wielding wife of the piano player (definitely not ancient and only a fair weather sailor). The group has grown in recent years to a full-strength Dixieland band which specializes in the happy sounds of traditional jazz and popular music from the period from 1890’s to the 1920’s. The band members have varied professional careers, ranging in acceptability from the ministry and college presidency to education, engineering, farming, display advertising, and even aluminum. But our common bond is a live-long love of music, and our joy is bringing this sometimes forgotten traditional jazz to a wide range of audiences.
Jake Kerwin was kissed by Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands in 1932 – this is true – there were witnesses. Nothing much happened until 1969, when he was kissed by the future bass player of the Ancient Mariners. In addition to maintaining his faculty position at MIT, he has somehow developed a honky-tonk/ragtime style of piano playing that is appropriate on some occasions.
Marilyn Kerwin started her career as a nurse practitioner at Massachusetts General Hospital, but switched to farm educator at Drumlin farm, where she often drove a mule team. She was actively playing classical flute until her physical therapist suggested that her muscle-to-brain ratio could be improved by switching to bass fiddle.
Bob MacInnis started his career as a paratrooper in the 82’nd Airborne Division, where he also played first chair trumpet. On a dark night practice parachute jump, he landed in a tree, and following strict orders, hung in there until daybreak … only to find that he was one foot off the ground. As a result, Barnum and Bailey circus offered him a (musical) job after his discharge, and all his Boston area musical colleagues and audiences are thankful that he turned them down.
Mort Speck is an orthodontist and teacher at Harvard Medical School. His clarinet playing covers a range of styles from traditional jazz (where he sounds like the legendary Johnny Dodds), to more modern music that he plays with his own trio. He claims that his musical ability is inherited from his son, Scott, who is the conductor of the Mobile Symphony Orchestra.
Tim Mahoney is a life-long banjo player that can be heard with several jazz bands. His day job was an engineer in electric power, and whenever the lights flickered, we were sure that Tim was experimenting with a new way to re-wire Boston. But he has now retired, banjo is his first priority, and flickering lights are somebody else’s problem.
Tom Ruggles entered Dartmouth College in 1946, and we are all cheered by unconfirmed reports that he has graduated. In addition to playing banjo and singing with numerous bands, he is a regular volunteer at Emerson Hospital, visiting and entertaining patients with his ukulele and distinctive voice. We understand that the average length of hospitalization has been significantly reduced as a result.