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Marble Falls High School reunion celebrates the ’80s, reunites Next Exit

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

MARBLE FALLS — When Steve Waller first began organizing the Marble Falls High School ’80s “and More” Reunion last year, he expected maybe 80 or 85 people.

“Yeah, I thought I’d be lucky to just break even otherwise I’d be paying some of it out of my own pocket,” said Waller, a member of the MFHS Class of 1983. “Ticket sales started pretty steady, but then just took off. We’ve had 325 people who have already bought tickets.”

The reunion — scheduled for Aug. 17 at the Lakeside Pavilion, 307 Buena Vista Drive in Marble Falls — promises to be the biggest thing to hit the city since the boat races.

“OK, the boat races were just the week before,” Waller said with a laugh. “But we’ll still be the biggest thing since the races.”

The event gets started at 5 p.m. and features barbecue, drinks and live music. Local musician john Arthur martinez will take the stage around 7 p.m., but at 9 p.m. Next Exit gets back together for the band’s first performance in about 29 and a half years.

“Everybody back then in (MFHS) knew who Next Exit was,” Waller said.

In a way, it’s Next Exit who may have triggered the MFHS 80s “and More” Reunion. One of the band members, Virgil Brown, posted on his Facebook page that Next Exit would entertain if somebody coordinated a class reunion.

“Nobody else stepped up, so I took it on,” Waller said.

Next Exit began performing as a group when they were in eighth grade. They stayed together and performed through the members’ high school years. Next Exit consists of Greg Woodcock, Rex Schnelle, Brown and Joe Tharp. Ricky Carr managed the group.

“Our first concert was our eighth grade graduation,” said Tharp, the drummer and a vocalist. “I think we played ‘Ice Cream Man’ by Van Halen, ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ by Ted Nugent, ‘More Than a Feeling,’ by Boston and then ‘Eruption’ by Van Halen. That’s all we played and we played them three or four times each.”

Next Exit, a heavy metal group, played together for the next four and a half years at parties, churches, sock hops, clubs and other events. Though they covered other groups songs, the members penned between 15 and 20 original pieces.

“We’ll probably play a couple of those (at the reunion),” Tharp said.

The band eventually split in 1984, but all the members kept their hand in music at some level. Schnelle lives in Tennessee where he’s a Christian musician while Tharp and Woodcock lead praise bands at their respective churches.

Tharp laughed at the transformation of the members going from covering Judas Priest songs to leading praise bands.

He said the band members have held a few rehearsals in preparation for the class reunion and are excited about taking the stage one more time in front of friends, many that they haven’t seen in several decades.

While most class reunions focus on one graduating year, Waller said it just made sense to open it up to several classes.

“When you’re in high school, your friends aren’t just the ones in your class,” he said. “You’re friends with kids in the other (graduating) classes.”

The MFHS 80s “and More” Reunion isn’t just about the students. The former MFHS students are taking the time to honor a former Marble Falls school superintendent, Charles Hundley.

“He was the superintendent for the district back in the eighties,” Waller said. “He probably did more for this district than any other superintendent. He was an interesting guy. If you ask anybody from back then, they’ll all smile when you mention Mr. Hundley.”

There will be a reception for Hundley at the pavilion from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 17.

While the number of people who have already bought tickets is well over 300, Waller said there is always room for more Mustangs.

“We’ll sell tickets right up to the night of the reunion,” he said, then added with a laugh, “We’ll sell them right up to the end of the event if somebody still wants them.”

For more information on the reunion, go to www.marblefallsreunion.com or go to Facebook and do a search for the Marble Falls reunion.

daniel@thepicayune.com