Words of wisdom from many remain firm with musical Monongahela native Frederick
Everyone has had a mentor in his (or her) life – someone whose words of wisdom and guidance influenced them and remained strong throughout their lives.
Role models of that ilk are plentiful for Paul Frederick, a 1965 graduate of Monongahela High School who now lives in the Salt Lake City suburb of Sandy, Utah.
“There were so many people who steered me in the right directions and I remain deeply grateful to all of them,” said Frederick, whose career as a talented musician, vocalist and songwriter spans more than 50 years. “They affected me in different ways but their lessons, support and encouragement are still with me every day.”
Although his first public appearance as a musician evolved as a seventh-grader at Monongahela Junior High School, Frederick's formal career in entertainment began in 1965 with the Air Force Band.His ledger of success also includes studies at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he worked with bands directed by Herb Pomeroy and Phil Wilson; touring with the Glenn Miller and Dorsey Brothers orchestras, and backing such entertainers as Tony Bennet, Lou Rawls, the Pointer Sisters, Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis, Bob Hope and Bobby Vinton. He worked with the Dorsey Band in 1972 prior to touring with the Miller Orchestra in 1973. He performed with both of those vintage Big Band Era groups at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh. And during his time in Boston he played in the orchestra at Schubert Theater and did Broadway shows that included working with such stars as Carol Channing, Kay Ballard and Jane Powell.
He also has worked at such venues as the Roseland Ballroom in New York City, the London Palladium in England, the Twin Coaches in Rostraver Township and the Holiday House in Monroeville.
Frederick works today as a trombonist and euphonium (baritone-voice brass instrument), keeps busy as a vocalist and enjoys writing and arranging for myriad ensembles.
He leads The Top Brass Quintet, a group formed in 1992 and which recorded an album, “The Season of Christmas,” in 1998. Frederick wrote the title song for the album and arranged 10 of the other pieces. He also formed a tuba quartet, Basses Loaded, and enjoys playing with and arranging for this unique group.
Among those who helped instill a love of music with Frederick was Harold Weaver, a longtime musician who owned and operated a music studio on Main Street in Monongahela and gave guitar lessons for decades.
“Mr. Weaver was a talented guitarist, a great teacher and a nice man,” Frederick said. “He would talk about jazz with me and listening to him was a true education.”
Paul Dolinar, George Watkinson and Paul Scandrol also were excellent teachers.
“Paul Dolinst was my teacher in elementary school and junior high,” Frederick recalled. “He started me on the trumpet and later got me to play euphonium. George Watkinson was the band teacher at the high school and asked me to join the MHS band when I was in eighth grade. Paul Scandrol started me on the trombone.
“He gave me a horn and an instruction book, told me to go home over the summer and learn how to play it because he needed me to play lead in the jazz band in the fall.”
Katherine Youngst, the choral director at Monongahela High School, also played a key role in Frederick's career.
“She encouraged me as a vocalist and I was selected to be a member of the All Eastern Chorus,” he said.
“This was quite an honor as those who are chosen are considered to be the best high school vocalists in 10 Eastern states. Mrs. Youngst accompanied me to Buffalo, N.Y., where we rehearsed for a week and presented a concert before a capacity crowd at Kleinhan's Music Hall. The concert was recorded and each member of the chorus received a copy.”
Frederick also lauded John Conte, the principal at Monongahela High School.
“(Conte) was always encouraging me to pursue my desire to be a musician,” he said.
“When I came home from the Air Force with an album we had recorded, I took it to show him. John was so eager to hear it that he had his secretary bring in record player on the spot and he listened to the entire album. And he took no phone calls while the music was playing.”
George “Bud” Johnson also made a lasting impression on Frederick.
“I met Bud when I was driving for Monongahela City Taxi during the time I came home from the military and before I left to attend Berklee College of Music,” Frederick said. “He was an interesting man and was interested in what other people had to say. He always encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do. He was a great friend. I stayed in touch with him until his passing a couple of years ago.”
Frederick, the son of the late Paul George Frederick Sr. and Anne McDonald Frederick, was elected student director of the Monongahela High School band as a senior.
But he didn't limit his musical talents to MHS.
He began playing trumpet with the Monongahela Community Band at age 13 under the direction of Rotillio Rotilli.
Among the other older musicians with him when he performed at parades and concerts in the community were Sam Bavuso, Henry Day, Ira Day and Howard Fawcett.
“They welcomed the younger musicians into the band and we learned so much from them,” Frederick said.
He also formed a band, The Midnighters, with John Matthews when they were 15.
Other members of the group were Ed Fleischer, George Gregory, Dan Smith, Chuck Pizzutelli, Daryl Hodgson and Mark Peterson.
He also performed with a band led by Jay Chattaway, a Monongahela High graduate who has gained acclaim as an Emmy Award-winning composer of film and television scores.
Other activities in high school were limited, Frederick said, because “I was totally involved with music and all my friends were musicians.”
“My Mom would make a fuss because she said I needed to get out and play baseball and be like other kids,” Frederick said.
“But I spent all my time practicing my horn. And I was busy playing gigs at places like Mineral Beach with another little band.”
His closest friends during those years were Earl Bugaile, John Fisher, Tom Williams, Howard “Gippy” Anders, John Matthews, Kenny Jackson, Ron Toothman, Frank Podroskey, Bill Stewart, David Jaynes, Jay Chattaway, Dan Smith, James (Daryl) Hodgson, Ed Fleischer and Bill Boyles.
Frederick had a part-time job while attending junior high school.
“I worked at the Liberty Shoe Shine Shop every Saturday,” he recalled. “I worked 13 hours for $1.10 but usually brought home $10 because of tips.
“The business was owned by Lou Pagonis and I worked there with Sonny Metcalf and Jon Fisher. Lou frequently fired us but always rehired us the next day.
“We all admired the car that Lou and his wife Ann drove. It was a classic blue and white 1955 Ford Thunderbird convertible. You could see it coming from a mile away.”
Frederick also worked a few seasons as a caddy at Monongahela Valley Country Club.
Those memories have remained strong with Frederick, who has lived in Utah since 1976.
And they were rekindled when he recently returned to his hometown to perform with Paul Dolinar's band, Too Many Tubas, at a concert that was part of the 150th anniversary of the Monongahela Cemetery.
“The concert was at the cemetery,” Frederick said. “I've performed all around the country and on international stages but I'm pretty sure this was the first time I've ever played at a cemetery.
“But it was great working again with Paul Dolinar and those excellent musicians in his band and seeing family and old friends.”
There wasn't a shortage of memories to share when Frederick and his friends got together.
They talked about the proverbial “good old days” and “had a lot to laugh about.”
They also recounted the long and successful career that Frederick has enjoyed as a musician - a journey that began with an inauspicious debut in seventh grade.
“In the 1963 high school yearbook is a picture of Jay Chattaway, Frank Podroskey and me playing ‘Bugler's Holiday' with the MHS band,” Frederick said.
“Maybe I wasn't so hopeless on trumpet after all,” he added.
Ron Paglia is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.