Any organization is only as good as its people, and SFAS is fortunate to have Leslie’s rare combination of unending energy, leadership, and the graciousness and generosity in developing, planning and hosting many of our large events in her home. If that’s not enough, she’s also a dedicated audiophile with great ears; a consummate and relentless tweaker; and a live music lover with an unquenchable thirst for discovering new music and talented, up-and-coming artists. We are all so grateful for all that Leslie brings to SFAS (which may mean that we’re not so bad after all)! Here’s part one of Leslie’s abbreviated memoir of her lifetime of music. Enjoy! ~ Alón
Ever since I can remember there was music. Those sweet sounds wrapped me up like a warm blanket on a cold night. Born in Chicago in the 60’s, living steps from the Playboy Mansion, life was exciting. My dad drove me to school up LSD (Lake Shore Drive for those of you not from the Windy City) in his Porsche Speedster. Music playing, wind blowing off Lake Michigan, absolute nirvana. Then came 1968 and according to my parents, State Street was no place for children. So off we went to Whitewater Lake Wisconsin and a far less glamorous and “safer” life. The lake house was often compared to Fallingwater. Similar architecture, cold, vast and terribly impractical for the living. Wisconsin weather was inhospitable at times. Living in the middle of Kettle Moraine State Park, far away from our friends, at the end of a Peninsula that oftentimes would require a 4WD to navigate in the winter, we got really good at making do indoors. Music became the arbiter of our lives. It filled the otherwise desolate house and brought the outside world to our remote enclave. Every morning we had classical music for breakfast, a bit of blue grass for lunch and of course jazz for dinner and then Beatles or Simon and Garfunkel for after dinner dancing while my parents had their Old Fashions.
Got my first system, an all in one turntable, at around age 12 from a local rummage sale along with a nice collection of show tunes and classics like Billy Holiday and Nat King Cole. I was first exposed to typical teenage music at around 14 by my older brother who was a big David Bowie fan (although Bowie was not typical). I too fell in love with Bowie and to this day, he’s one of my favorite artists. Desperate to get out of the house, at age 15, I decided to go to college in Madison Wisconsin and live with my older brother and sister. I cut a deal with my parents and in exchange for doing well in school, they agreed to buy me a new stereo system and give me an allowance. My parents lived off their real estate and found that student housing was a great investment. Come 1979, I was the beneficiary of spacious Madison Wisconsin digs offering ample freedom at a very young age under the not so watchful eyes of my older siblings. Having a good system was a critical part of the equation. (to be continued)