The Skylarks don’t make a lot of money performing the classic pop jazz standards they love, but they’re always looking for a place to play them.
“Why do we do it?” member Mac McCutchen replied to that very question. “Because we love it. We all enjoy playing, and we’ve really got a great group right now.”
McCutchen couldn’t nail down how many years The Skylarks have been performing across the Highland Lakes, just that it’s been a long time. In fact, the group can trace its start to around 1974 in Lago Vista, when a couple of musicians got together to play. That early group added more musicians and a few changed over the years. They became known as the Firehouse 5. (One of their earliest gigs was a fundraiser for the Lago Vista Volunteer Fire Department.)
In the 1980s, trumpeter Gene Markley joined the group and eventually became its leader. The Firehouse 5 continued to perform around the area, including the Highland Lakes as more local members joined. In 2000, the band members voted to change the name to The Skylarks.
“Gene, he was a big part of really getting the Skylarks going, and keeping it going,” McCutchen said.
Markley and his wife, LaHoma, moved to Friendswood in 2013 to be near their children. He passed away a year later.
The Skylarks play on with a strong group of musicians. The current lineup is McCutchen on trombone, John Eplen on drums, David Hargett on bass, Mike Kelly on keyboard, David Langford on trombone, Graham Avery on guitar and vocals, Bo Boshears on trumpet, and Martin Langford (not related to David) on saxophone and clarinet.
“This is a really great group of musicians, and Martin, he’s from the Houston area and probably one of the best saxophonists around there,” McCutchen said.
The Skylarks practice every Tuesday and perform whenever and wherever they can. They play at The Ragtime Oriole, recently opened in Marble Falls, as often as possible.
The group performs a wide selection of pop jazz and jazz standards from the 1940s through the 1960s, though if they like more modern pieces, they’ll add those in.
“Right now, we have a a group of musicians who can play a lot of the challenging and tough pieces,” McCutchen said. “We also play a lot of music people know.”
McCutchen said The Skylarks are always looking for more opportunities to bring their music to people. To schedule a performance, call McCutchen at 830-693-3922 or message him through The Flashbacks Facebook page. The Flashbacks are a big band group with which several of The Skylarks perform.
The jazz group often posts upcoming performances on that page.
“We have a lot of fun together, performing and even practicing,” McCutchen said. “You know, some people play golf to have fun. Well, we play music.”