Punk Rock Professors

A stereotypical college professor is the picture of wisdom, precision, and hard work. With a tweed coat with elbow pads, they drag through their many classes Ben Stein style, without ever learning anybody’s name, and leaving no room in class for discussions or debate. There’s no way a college professor could be cool, right? Wrong!

Meet New Paltz’s own Questionable Authorities, the best all-faculty punk rock cover band on the entire SUNY New Paltz campus. They are made up of psychology professor Glenn Geher on lead guitar, sociology professor Brian Obach on rhythm guitar, biology professor Maureen Morrow on bass, and sociology professors Peter Kaufman on drums and Anne Roschelle on flute.

Questionable Authorities takes a fun, light approach to rock n’ roll. You won’t find angry guitar smashing, expensive cocaine habits, spandex and hairspray, or one-night stand babes in this band.

The lack of tension could be due to the fact that they play mostly cover songs. Since the music has already been written and performed by other bands, there is no room for lyrical or musical discrepancies. Unless of course they want to pick a fight with Joan Jett, which probably isn’t a good idea considering Joan’s rebellious temper.

“We’re a tribute to cover bands everywhere and we like to imitate them imitating others,” said Obach. “Cover bands are really the heart and soul of rock n’ roll.”

Questionable Authorities formed about eight years ago. All the members took a liking to music at a relatively young age, listening to fundamental rock bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, The Ramones, The Clash, and The Who.

Obach and Morrow had been learning the basics of guitar when they decided to get together, and they got wind that Kaufman used to play drums throughout his high school years. Unfortunately for Kaufman, he sold his drum set a few years before he met Obach and Morrow, so they talked him into buying a new one.

The band’s first gig took place in Kaufman’s basement during a Superbowl halftime. It was a short acoustic set, consisting of Obach and Morrow playing guitar and Kaufman on drums. They played in front of a 12 person audience.

Shortly after their first gig, Roschelle started playing the flute again, after taking a 20-year break from it. She was quickly recruited by the band along with their original bassist.

The original bassist moved to California a year or so after the band’s formation and Geher was brought in to fill the spot. Geher is the most experienced musician in the band — he learned how to play guitar at the age of 13 with his Fender Stratocaster, which was bought for him by his parents. Morrow decided to take over on bass, allowing Geher to take the lead guitarist position.

Despite having very busy teaching schedules and family duties, the band still manages to practice about once a week. They practice in Magnolia Studios. It may sound like a prestigious, five star studio, but it’s actually just Kaufman’s basement. It’s named after his dog, Maggie, who comes down to dance when the band is playing.

You can bet that Maggie has been doing a lot of dancing this October, as Questionable Authorities kicked off their grueling fall 2010 tour on Saturday, Oct. 16 at SUNY New Paltz’s College Terrace. I decided to check it out, and you can read the review [here.]

Andrew Mercer

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