ROCK IN THE LWV – Orange County Register


By David Dearing

Laguna Woods Globe Special

It’s been a dozen years since rock music took over Laguna Woods Village.

In 2010, The Village Midiots struck the first chords, and there has been an evolution and proliferation of rock bands ever since. One group, the Woods Combo, added a new element to classic rock standards.

In this first two-part article on rock music in the Village, we start with The Village Midiots, the band that may have started it all.

  • David Dearing was the frontman of The Village Midiots, a band that started in 2010. In a two-part series, he writes about the evolution of rock music in Laguna Woods. (Courtesy picture)

  • A reconfiguration of the Laguna Woods Midiots Village in...

    A 2015 reconfiguration of the Laguna Woods Midiots Village, featuring David Anderman, left, David Dearing, Pamela Waizenegger, Bill Farinacci and Mark Hochberg. (Courtesy picture)

  • The Woods Combo brought jazz and R&B flair to...

    The Woods Combo brought a jazz and R&B twist to rock songs when they formed in 2017. In 2019, the band members were bassist Dutch Fisser, vocalist Moqui Lund, keyboardist Mark Hochberg and drummer Bill Hemberger. (Courtesy picture)

  • Moqui Lund sings with the Woods Combo at Laguna...

    Moqui Lund performs with the Woods Combo at the Laguna Woodstock Festival on Saturday, September 18. (Photo by Mark Rabinowitch)

  • The Dutch from Fiz have joined the evolution of rock in...

    The Dutch from Fiz joined the rock evolution at Laguna Woods Village in 2017 and have become regulars at Boomers Club parties. Here, Jeff Sinclair, left, Bill Hemberger and Dutch Fisser play at Laguna Woodstock in 2018. (Photo courtesy)

  • Dressed for the role, drummer Bill Hemberger plays with Dutch...

    Dressed for the role, drummer Bill Hemberger performs with Dutch of Fiz at Laguna Woodstock in 2018. (Photo courtesy)

  • Rock of Ages was formed in 2017, but the lead singer...

    Rock of Ages was formed in 2017, but lead singer Jeff Sinclair, center, recently joined the band. Alongside Sinclair are Lyle Sanders and Mark Hardy on the left and Ron Gagnon and Bob Mazzola on the right. (Courtesy picture)

  • Rock of Ages, with Lyle Sanders, left, Mark Hardy and...

    Rock of Ages, with Lyle Sanders, left, Mark Hardy and Jeff Sinclair at Laguna Woodstock in 2019. Sanders is in high demand in Laguna Woods, playing regularly in four village bands. (Courtesy picture)

  • The Village Midiots of Laguna Woods are rehearsing for a concert...

    The Village Midiots of Laguna Woods rehearse for a concert at Clubhouse 1 gazebo in 2012. Left to right are David Anderman, David Dearing, Linda Nearing, Bill Farinacci. The band was founded in 2010 and was the first rock band to form in the Village. (Courtesy picture)

The Village Midiots

I was in a show for Theater Guild called “From Aquarius to Woodstock”, co-written by John Perak, Sheila Bialka and me. Most of the music was recorded, but I sang two Rolling Stones songs.

A few days later, Linda Nearing asked me if I would like to be part of a rock band because she knew two guitarists and she was into percussion. “Sure!” I answered, and the village Midiots were gone and rocking.

We were The Midiots because we played midi files, a kind of glorified karaoke. David Anderman, who is indeed a rocket scientist, was our lead guitarist and arranger, and provided the backing. Bill Farinacci played rhythm guitar and we all sang.

After four years, we added the incomparable Mark Hochberg on keyboard and Pamela Waizenegger, who brought her wonderful voice and creative imagination to the band. The addition of Mark and Pamela changed the dialogue from “You’re better” to “You’re really good!”

We have played for several years at the clubhouses, at the closing ceremonies of the Village Games, at the grand opening of Clubhouse 2 and several times at Boomers’ Laguna Woodstock.

Our last gig was in 2018. It was where we opened our career, the gazebo at Clubhouse 1.

I never knew I could sing until I was 13 and was asked to join our church choir. I realized how much fun singing was and I loved putting on my choir robe.

Fast forward 25 years to when I taught high school English and drama in upstate New York. I did musical theater with my students, then I started acting and singing with our community theatre.

Fast forward to 2006 when my wife, Susan, and I moved to Laguna Woods so she could be with her mother.

In my golden years of retirement, I wanted to get involved in theatre. But I never imagined that life would be so interesting.

The wood combo

The Woods Combo, founded in 2017, is another band that has played at Laguna Woodstock. The Combo has brought a touch of jazz and rhythm and blues to many rock and popular hits.

Drummer Bill Hemberger recently explained how The Woods Combo was created, and the names of Dutch Fisser and Mark Hochberg came up.

“Dutch, Mark and I played as a trio, and Moqui Lund came to sing with us. When asked if she wanted to join the group, her immediate response was, “Yes!”

Moqui has spent her entire life making a living from her music, she told me. She has already sung jingles for several well-known multinationals.

One of the highlights of his illustrious career was supporting Grammy-winning artist Deneice Williams. Touring with Williams took Moqui all over the world, and she was sometimes on the road for weeks.

I asked Bill and Mark if they wanted to make music their career.

Bill’s response: “I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a professional musician. So after high school, on my father’s advice, I traveled with a band playing gigs in upstate New York. After about a year, I decided to go to college to study radio and broadcasting. It turned out to be a good decision.

Mark, who started playing the piano at age 5, had a similar response. “I wanted a pension and all those other perks our parents hoped for us, so as a morning person, a career as a professional keyboard player wasn’t for me.”

Eventually Dutch decided to steer his music in a different direction and focused on his own band, The Dutch of Fiz.

Fortunately, Alan Levin was available to play bass for The Woods Combo. He comes from a musical family and has been a musician most of his life. He is currently a professor for the string orchestra class emeritus. He particularly enjoys singing and playing music with his son.

The Dutch of Fiz

The Dutch from Fiz joined the evolution of rock at the Village in 2017.

Dutch Fisser is the band’s bassist. He was born in the Netherlands and emigrated to the United States at age 17. He was trained as an electrician and spent much of his life earning a living in the field. He grew tired of this job and became a flight instructor pilot. The events of 9/11 slowed that down, so he returned to work as an electrician.

I recently asked him, “Dutch, have you ever wanted to be a rock star?

He replied, “I thought about it. When I was in fourth grade in the Netherlands, my teacher, Mr. Dongen, asked me if I wanted to perform in front of the class, so I did. All the girls said you’ll have so many girls when you’re older.

“How did it work? ” I asked.

“Pretty good. Since then, I’ve been making music.”

The Dutch from Fiz have become regulars at Boomers parties, providing excellent rock rhythm for the dancers.

Dutch’s favorite gig: “Playing for Woodstock Boomers in 2018.”

There is a group of musicians in the village who know everyone’s musical talents. So when The Nomads needed a bassist, Dutch also became a loyal member of that band.

rock of ages

Rock of Ages, formed in 2017, have become a Boomer favorite, playing multiple Boomer functions, including several times at Laguna Woodstock. The band features Lyle Sanders on guitar and vocals.

Lyle’s musical skills are in high demand in the Village. He plays in four groups: The Dutch of Fiz, Rock of Ages, Band X and The Nomads.

“I guess whatever band was chosen for Boomers Woodstock 2022, I would play,” he said.

I asked him how it felt to be in four bands. He laughed and said, “It keeps me very, very busy.”

Did he ever want to be a rock star? He laughed again and said, “Yeah, when I was 18, and that was 50 years ago!”

In his pre-Village days, Lyle served his community by delivering the mail.

Ron Gagnon keeps Rock of Ages in time with his steady rhythm on drums. I asked him how he started music.

To my surprise he said: “When I was 15 I used to play in bars and the idea of ​​rocking out with strippers was something I had to get used to but I did. .”

Ron’s favorite place in the village is Clubhouse 5. Due to its size, it is ideal for dancing. He wanted to share how grateful he and the band are for the loyalty of ROA fans: “When we see all these people dancing, we feel really good.”

Rock of Ages guitarist and vocalist Mark Hardy first held a guitar at the age of 10, when his neighbor taught him to play a C chord. As a teenager, Mark played in a band that performed at the Pomona County Fair. Thirty-five years ago he played with a band called Foolish Pleasure.

I asked him how he connected with Rock of Ages.

“While I was with the OC Blues Players, I met Lyle,” he said. “We just clicked. A few months later, Ron called me and asked me to interview for a guitar and vocals opening.

It turned out they were all “very good”, he said.

Mark particularly enjoys playing in the Village. “I love Laguna Woods. I love the crowd and I love rocking out at Boomers Woodstock.

Bassist Bob Mazzola, originally from Queens, New York, started playing music at age 16. While playing with the band Third Rail Connection at Queens College, he was offered a recording contract with Buddha Records.

It was a tough decision, but Bob decided to stay in school, where he earned degrees in math and radiology. He hasn’t given up on music, however, and rocks at every opportunity.

The latest rocker to join Rock of Ages is Jeff Sinclair. Jeff has sung with many bands in the Village, starting with The Dutch of Fiz.

What are some of his favorite songs to sing?

“Paint It Black”, by the Rolling Stones, and “Ain’t No Sunshine”, by Bill Withers, he replied immediately.

Part 2 of rock in the Village features The RetroFits Band, Band X and The Nomads.

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