The Drummer Drives Table of Contents

Table of Contents

The Drummer Drives! Everybody Else Rides
The Musical Life and Times of Harry Brabec, 
Legendary Chicago Symphony
Percussionist and Humorist

by Barbara Brabec



 Chapter 1: Beginning Again
A Whirlwind  Courtship • Ready to Roll • Feast or Famine

Chapter 2: Melody Top Summer Theater
Amusing Reviews for 1962 Shows • A Rip in Time • First Vacation and Other Work • The 1963 Melody Top Season • Melody Top’s Last Season • “The Rain in Spain” • Backstage with Pete Fountain • End of an Era

Chapter 3: Divinely Connected by the Marimba
Better Marimbas and Music Lessons in Chicago • “Get an Act, Honey”  •  Supper Club Debut and Musician’s Union Surprise • Entertaining Women’s Clubs

Chapter 4: On Being Czech
Czech History and the “Bohemian Sausage Cheer” • Louis M. Blaha and J. Sterling Morton High School • “Blaha’s Blasting Bohemians” • Courting Girls in the Forties • Trekking to Berwyn for Goodies • “Food, Glorious Food!”

Chapter 5: The Shubert Theatre Days
How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying • “I Hope You Boys Don’t Play Too Loud” • Harry’s Meat Baster Stunt in Oliver • Funny Girl Hello, Dolly! • A Very Personal Shubert Theatre Story • Harry’s 1966 Percussion Recital • So You Want to Leave Show Biz?

Chapter 6: Flashback to the Forties & Harry’s Big Band Days
Jobbing in High School • Two Years with Wayne King • Touring and Recording with Chuck Foster • Foster and Band Personnel Stories • Recordings, Transcriptions, V-Disks, and Soundies • Musicians in Glenn Miller's Band • The “Sweet Bands”

Chapter 7: Chicago’s Radio/TV Orchestras & Recording Studios
The NBC Studio Orchestra • Chicago’s Jingle Business • Making Recordings and Commercials • Booking Agents, Contractors, and Recording Studios • Hotel Jobs, Night Clubs, and Chicago Gangsters • A Tale of Two Drum Shops

Chapter 8: The Chicago Symphony Years
The National Symphony Orchestra • Rafael Kubelik and Harry • Legendary Brabec-Reiner Stories • A Shotgun Confrontation • The Story Behind the Story • A Mentor to Many • More Stories from Fellow Musicians • Recordings Made with Fritz Reiner • Other Fritz Reiner Stories • The Painful Aftermath • Three Punches to the Gut

Chapter 9: Taking another Chance on Love and Music
Bad Habits Broken • Touring with the Symphony • Ring Dem Bells! • Onward to Alaska • Back with the Symphony Full Time • Chicago’s “Killer Storm of ’67” • Memorable Music Moments of 1967 • Trouble Ahead

Chapter 10: The Lure of Disney World
The Walt Disney World Marching Band • Disney World’s Grand Opening • The “76 Trombones” Recording • The Life of a Disney Musician • Cinderella Castle • All That Glitters is Not Gold • Leaving on a High Note

Chapter 11: A Man of Many Interests and Talents
“Smarter than the Average Bear” • Brabec the Bibliophile • Trivia and the English Language • Word Play • An Amazing Collection of Music • Amusing Surprises in the Cassette Tape Boxes • Seeing Harry through His Files, Notebooks, and Scrapbooks • The Drummer’s Workshop and Pack Rat Tendencies

Chapter 12: Playing Life by Ear
The Silver Dollar City Crafts Festival • Music in the Ozarks • The International Crafts Exposition • Dining on the Way to Germany • Forced to Move Again

Chapter 13: Dark Days in Brabecland
Harry’s Deepening Depression • Situation Desperate • Hitting Bottom Once Again • More Disappointment in the Eighties • A Symphony Fiasco • Back to Chicago Again • “But at least we ain’t got locusts” • Lifestyle and Attitude Changes

Chapter 14: Nostalgic Music Remembrances
Joe Sperry and Harry’s Old Drum Set • Ollie Zinsmeister, Xylophonist Extraordinaire • Five Famous Russian Composers • A Twenty-Year Correspondence with Doug MacLeod  •  Harry's Most Amusing Letter

Chapter 15: Winding Down a Long Musical Career
Chicago’s Music Business Then and Now • Playing A Chorus Line • The Bensenville Concert Band • The Windjammers Circus Band • Masonic Musicians • Sitting in with the Carson & Barnes Circus

Chapter 16: The Last Difficult Decade
Nine Days that Changed Our Lives • Talking to God • A New Perspective on Life • A Hard Row to Hoe • Dancing with Death • Is That Jimmy Stewart I See There? • Special Blessings and Small Miracles • Going Home

Chapter 17: A Widow's Ponderings and Regrets
“No Fanfare, Please” • Harry’s Estranged Daughter • A Widow’s “Busy Work” • No Ordinary Joe • Thoughts about Love • Being a Witness to Someone’s Life

Encore, Encore!



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