Musician Larry Carney to receive ARTSNCT music award

7 months ago 1591

For Larry Carney, winner of the 2022 Manuel Yingling Music Award from Arts Center of Newcomerstown, being able to drop the names above is proof his decades-long musical career has sent him to sites around the United States.

Carney, a graduate of Newcomerstown High School, will receive the prize at an award ceremony and reception at 2 p.m. Oct. 22 at ARTSNCT, 304 S. College St. The event is free and open to the public.

The award first went to Dixie Hayes Heck in 2018, presented by Manuel Yingling’s granddaughter, Karin Rathbun, and her family. Other winners have been Mike Hoskins in 2019, BJ McFadden in 2020 and Ron Little in 2021.

Nominations for the award are submitted by peers, teachers, clergy, and arts and education professionals. Graduating high school seniors and local adults are eligible to receive the award. Winners are chosen based on performance skills, musical participation in groups and events, volunteerism, community involvement, and the selfless sharing and promotion of music to future generations of musicians.

Carney started as a trumpet player as a freshman in 1959, but he once admitted that he became so hooked on the string bass that “the trumpet stayed in the closet.”

Carney, son of Dallas and Marian Carney, said he bought the bass at the Charlie Leiser Music Store on Main Street and began his musical career as a member of Paul Hammersley and the Musical Knights after playing in the NHS Jazz Band.

“We played square and ‘round’ dances,” Carney said. “I was only 14 but Larry Groff, who was in the band, was 16, and had a car to drive us to dances. He also got the sheet music. He would transpose his part, give me the music, and I would transpose it to my part.

“We each got $5 a night and we played at schools around the area, mostly the Guernsey School, but also Plainfield School had regular dances on the weekend. The furthest we played was in Walhonding or at the Westland School near New Concord.”

Carney later took bass lessons at what's now known as Muskingum University, under John Kendle, and was invited to play with the Muskingum College Orchestra. His next stop was Baldwin-Wallace College, where he was able to attend performances by the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra.

“The location was a big advantage,” Carney said. “One of my teachers was able to get us seats in the nosebleed section for, I think, 25 cents.”

He also began playing for an agency representing 10 different jazz bands and would play wherever he was sent.

“Every band had the same outfit − gray jackets − and were just given the location, the time and the name of the bandleader,” Carney said. “They told us not to shake hands with other members of the band because it would give the impression that we didn’t know each other and hadn’t played together before.”

Carney said the bands played what was called the “Businessman’s Bounce,” which meant playing dance numbers like “Manhattan,” “Crazy Rhythm,” “If I Had You,” “Penthouse Serenade” and “Blue Skies.”

“There wasn’t any music so you just played by ear,” Carney said. “There wasn’t any time between songs, either.”

Carney’s next stop was teaching at Van Wert School District in northwestern Ohio. There, he got an offer to teach in the Cleveland City School District, where he would travel to several different schools to teach orchestral music, working closely with the district’s band directors.

Carney left there to spend three years in Fort Wayne, where he played in its Philharmonic Orchestra, and also played in the Lima Symphony Orchestra. He went on to graduate school at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, but dropped out after one quarter due to frustration with a professor.

Carney then went on the road with the Ted Weems Ghost Band, whose big hit was “Heartache.” He went back to Chicago after that and joined Wayne King, who was known as The Waltz King. Following the Blizzard of 1967 in Chicago, Carney’s next show was in Indianapolis, followed by a welcome plane ride to the warm weather of Miami, for a month of shows. The band then went to Atlanta, followed by Kansas City, Phoenix and Tucson before heading back to Chicago.

Carney then took a job as a graduate assistant at Ball State University in Indiana, where he said he was “treated like royalty” before taking a full-time position in the Indianapolis Symphony. While on a west coast tour, Carney met renowned trumpet player Herb Albert, whom he said was “congenial beyond measure, as warm and friendly as anyone I could remember.”

During a spring tour to New England, including playing at Carnegie Hall, the symphony performed with such standouts as Dave Brubeck and Kelly Green, whom Carney called “kind of a prodigy.”

Carney left and headed to Columbus, where he played one season with the Columbus Symphony. In that timeframe the symphony played with violinist Isaac Stern. Then, deciding to pursue teaching, Carney moved to Mt. Vernon, which gave him input from Kenyon College and the Nazarene College in Gambier.

Later, Carney headed back to Colorado, and traveled to play in a band in Las Vegas. Carney called Colorado a "mecca" for musicians, and while teaching in Englewood, a suburb of Denver, and Littleton, he played at the Brown Palace and worked with such stars as Cab Calloway, Dianne Carroll, Barbara McNair, Leslie Uggams, Billy Eckstein and Keeley Smith.

After a few more moves, Carney took a position with Ohio Northern University in Ada, playing with several musical ensembles and two jazz bands. From there, he and his wife moved back to the Columbus area, where he finished the last nine years of his teaching career in the Dublin City Schools, calling it the best teaching position of his life.

Later, while playing with several symphonies, he got a chance to perform with Henry Mancini while with the Welsh Hills Symphony.

Now 70 years old, Carney said he decided to not lug the string bass around anymore, but did accompany his son, Sean, a noted blues guitarist, on a European tour that only emphasized his desire to not spend time on the road.

When Carney's wife died in 2016, Carney moved back to his hometown, and now says he's happy to be living again in Newcomerstown.