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Music Does That For Me: The Doorsmen

By Jan Morgan-Swegle

We inherit many things from our parents. We look like them, we practice the values we learned from them and sometimes their passion becomes our passion — like music. Ask anyone in the band, “The Doorsmen,” and you will find that their love of music is rooted in their childhood and family memories.

“There was always music in my house,” said Mark Barca, drummer for the band. “My dad played upright bass in a small pop/jazz combo. My sister played piano. All my dad had to ask was, ‘Do you want to play an instrument?’, I said, Yes, DRUMS!”

Eric Schonher, bass player added, “I’ve been playing music since elementary school, first on drums, but then I switched to guitar in middle school. I realized that I wanted to be a music major in college, so I switched to bass. There are a lot of good guitar players, but good bass players are rare. Music was always in the house as my Mom played piano and several others in my extended family bass, keyboards and percussion.”

“Both of my parents were musicians,” said guitarist David Condon. “My father was a ‘doo wop’ singer and my mom loved show tunes. I started to play piano at the age of four and switched to playing bass at age eight. I went to seminary and was a pastor for many years, but music is my main focus now. I lived in Nashville when I decided to pursue music. I ended up in Chapel Hill during the music renaissance that took place there in the 1990s.”

David Pope is the man who “brings all of the bells and whistles to the sound mix.” He said, “I started banging on some form of keyboards when I was about seven. At first it was the pop organ, eventually I moved to piano and in college, to synthesizers. Musically, I began playing in church, but felt called beyond those walls into blues, which led to jazz and R&B and then Pop and Rock.”

Banding Together but Still going Solo

The band has been together for about a year and a half, but all of the members still perform individually. Eric explained, “The band has been around since October, 2021. The ‘Doorsmen’ was a result of an open mic sponsored by ‘Up Your Arts,’ held at the American Fish Company. There was a group of us who were pretty much regulars at the open mic events and we wanted to perform with Arthur, who was the doorman for American Fish. When we were asked what name this impromptu band wanted to be introduced by, we all decided on ‘The Doorsmen.’ That’s one of the great things about music. It gives you the opportunity to meet people on a very personal level without the formality of conversation. We continued to play and got along well and here we are.”

The band plays “songs with a good solid rhythm. Songs with a nice groove.” Eric said. “We play what we call ‘Groove Music.’ Songs with a journey that you feel. As a musician, I describe it as songs with backbeat. As a bassist, I approach it as playing a little behind the beat which allows the song, like the energy of a wave, to build upon itself. I believe that people may hear or listen to the instruments, but they move and are moved by the rhythm (the groove.)”

All of ‘The Doorsmen’ agreed that they all have a say in what they play. “Each of us bring in songs, but we all decide. This is a democracy, and as we are friends, this is very important to us,” Eric said.

As is typical of many musical groups, “The Doorsmen” have been influenced by other artists. While David Condon likeS the mellow sounds of Paul Simon, Mark is more into Steely Dan and is inspired by Brian Dunn of “Hall and Oats.” Eric has more eclectic tastes like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Steely Dan, Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins, Garth Brooks, Stanley Clark, Thelonious Monk, one of the pioneers of modern jazz, and Dizzy Gillespie. David Pope leans more toward jazz and follows American Jazz pianist, Chick Corea.

Connecting with the Crowd

The Doorsmen members said it’s not about what they see from the stage, but what they feel. David Condon said, “Playing at a place as background music is boring. If everyone is into the music, I feed off of the crowd. I read the audience. I see what kind of music they are responding to and that’s what I play.” Drummer Mark added, “Ha ha, the drummer is usually blocked from seeing the audience but I love performing and feel inspired when people are up dancing and grooving to our music.” Eric said he feels the same way, “I feed off of the energy of the crowd. I’m inspired when people dance and have a good time because we helped them do that. Plus, I just like performing with these guys. Who doesn’t want to do stuff they like to do with their friends? We feed on the understanding, respect and friendship of each other whether we’re practicing or whether we’re in front of the audience.”

While this group of talented musicians play for the love of music, the band is also a business. Musical equipment can cost thousands of dollars, add to that cost of the sound system, mixing boards and travel and you’re talking about some hefty expenses. The band markets themselves on their website, Facebook, social media, ads, promos and the promotional information created by the event managers where they are playing. They play at local clubs and events in the Southport area and neighboring towns. Eric and Mark get most of the bookings for the band.

“If you know someone who needs a warmup band for a stadium gig, call us immediately!” said Eric.

I am a child of the 70s and like so many teenagers back then, I wanted to be in a band. I wanted to stand out front and sing. David Condon’s advice for new performers is “Understand, there is no such thing as an overnight success. You work hard and sometimes play in places you don’t want to be in. Some people won’t like you or your music. You have to hone your craft; get comfortable on stage. Do open mic nights to get more comfortable. Meet people.”

Mark Barca added, “It’s so hard to truly ‘make it’ in the music business. I have recorded on CDs, played festivals and clubs. Once you realize that you’re not going to be a star, you have to be okay having a blast just playing music.”

Eric Schonher’s advice was, “First, there are a number of ways to have a career in music performance. You don’t have to be a ‘star.’ I have friends who are making a good living playing festivals and bars around the country and actually, the world. It’s about setting the appropriate expectation and being clear on what you want out of your life—both emotional and financial. The greater your expectation, the greater is your need for knowledge in performance, production, marketing, accounting, and basic business management. My friends who are making a living as performers are critical thinkers who practice and want to learn how to run their business. They are business managers and understand those principles as well as creative individuals who sing, compose and perform almost nightly.”

The band was adamant that young performers realize that music is like playing a sport. It takes time and dedication. You have to be patient and tolerant of others and yourself. Set expectations but realize that they change as your opportunities and experiences change. Find ways to ‘get out of yourself’ and touch others. It really isn’t all about you. Build relationships in music — stand on each other’s shoulders. Be open to helping and accepting help. And, as Eric said, “Look at what you want, most likely others have that, and be open to understand how they got there and learn from it. But you gotta get outside of yourself. Music does that for me.”

There’s an old saying that if you are doing something you love, you will never work a day in your life. The Doorsmen truly love what they do and I think you will, too. Get out and see them when they are performing. Let them know that “music does that” for you, too!


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