News Column

Retired Hamden teacher's Twilight Nuages in comeback concert

July 10, 2014

By Joe Amarante, New Haven Register, Conn.



July 10--HAMDEN -- Thirty-seven years later, Bill Last's musical gamble is paying off.

"If you told me any of this would be happening a year ago, I would have said you were crazy," said Last, whose given surname is Lastomirsky. (He is "Mr. L" to generations of students he taught in the Hamden school system.)

In 1977, Last was a music-education major in college, student-teaching at Hamden High School, who formed a pop music group with three friends and four female Hamden High students, paid to produce an LP record of the group's songs and shipped the only 200 copies to music publishers and record companies (but mostly to friends and family).

The group, called Twilight Nuages, played about 20 concerts before calling it a day sometime in 1980.

"The style of music, and I'm not ashamed to say it, is it's pop music," said Last, 59. "They're happy little 3-minute songs that take you to another place."

Friday night, after the group's "rediscovery" by fans in places far from Hamden, six of the eight original members will be the opening act for storied group The 5th Dimension at the outdoor gazebo in Town Center Park as part of the summer concert series.

The 5th Dimension with Florence LaRue had easily recognizable hits in the 1960s and early 1970s such as "Up, Up and Away," "Stoned Soul Picnic," "Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In" and "One Less Bell to Answer." Not so much for Twilight Nuages.

Without a major label behind them, the Nuages slipped from obscure to defunct, like most music groups. But then a spark of life came in 2009, when a college student in Boston named Jack Fleisher, also the program director at his school's radio station, discovered the Nuages' album.

"He's a big indie-music fan and found a copy -- one of the original 200 copies -- in a used-record store in Boston," Last said. "And he fell in love with the record and contacted me, and I sold him some extra copies that I had because he wanted to give 'em out as Christmas gifts."

One thing led to another, said Last, and word spread on the Internet about the album, recorded live in Bill's parents' basement straight to 1/4 -inch stereo tape with no overdubs. Fans emerged in America, Canada and Europe, Last said. Copies were trading at more than $200 on the Internet.

"All of this is going on for two or three years, and I had absolutely no idea any of this was going on," Last said.

He was tipped off by German interest about reissuing the album. He ended up going with a "pop underground" niche label from Philadelphia, Folk Evaluations, which has put out an edition of 500 copies on "midnight blue splatter vinyl." Jordan Burgis of Folk Evaluations writes of the nine-song album: "From sunshine pop to country swing to devastatingly sincere piano ballads, the amount of heart and pop ingenuity on display is simply staggering."

The Nuages will do a 40-minute set of eight or nine songs Friday night, said Last, who went on to teach 34 years in Hamden, mostly on the elementary level at places such as Church Street School, before retiring in 2011.

Two of the four female singers are unavailable, one to ill health and the other is out of the country on vacation. Most of the band is still local, but one is coming up from Florida.

And Last is hoping you haven't heard the, uh, last of Twilight Nuages, which also includes Ann Pearlin, Ellen (Freiler) Unger, Bobby Genovese, Jane Talbot, Barry Mott, Robyn Waldman and Pat Gregor.

"The status of the group is ... we are enjoying doing it so much we'd like to find representation and go out there and play an hour set in clubs or a shorter set as an opening band," he said. "It's pop music, and I think pairing us with The 5th Dimension, which is also great pop music, is a good match."

___

(c)2014 the New Haven Register (New Haven, Conn.)

Visit the New Haven Register (New Haven, Conn.) at www.nhregister.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel



Source: New Haven Register (CT)


Story Tools






HispanicBusiness.com Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters