Professors perform in local band

Rachel Baggett, Staff Writer

By day, several professors teach students at Francis Marion University, but by night, they join together to form the local Florence band, The Woody’s.

The Woody’s began over 10 years ago by supervisor of the physical science program Joe Mehaffey and former director of the computing center Jon Baltzell. The Woody’s plays covers of classic rock and R&B songs in venues around the Florence area.

“I have been playing music just for myself at home forever and then you finally meet some people form a band with and play with for a hobby,” Mehaffey said. “That was the motivation, just to play with some folks as a hobby.”

Currently, The Woody’s is an eight piece band whose members include professor of English Phillip Gardner at vocals, Mehaffey on guitar, Baltzell playing bass, Eddie Glass on drums and Rusty Henderson at keyboards. A few years ago, the band added a horn section with associate professor of Physics Dr. Derek Jokisch on trombone, his wife, Kelly Jokisch, on trumpet and FMU graduate Chris Brown on saxophone.

“It is a big band with a big sound, and I say that we mostly play music by dead guys; which means we play the kind of stuff your parents listen to,” Gardener said.

Some of the music The Woody’s play comes from artists and bands such as Chicago, Otis Redding, Motown and The Beatles.

While the band has been playing together for more than a decade, all three professors were in agreement that The Woody’s is not a serious band, but more of a fun hobby.

“Nobody is trying to take this band and make something big happen with it, if you will,” Jokisch said. “The Woody’s have obtained their goal, which was to be a local, or at most, regional group that played out from time to time. We don’t play every week. . . . it stays fun that way; it never becomes work, and it doesn’t have those kind of stresses with it.”

Mehaffey said that students are often shocked to find out that he plays guitar in a band.

Jokisch said that he found his students to be surprised as well because many of them have a hard time believing professors can have such hobbies.

“There is probably an aspect where students have professors kind of stereo-typed, and then they find out a professor has this interest, and they are like ‘Oh really?’,” Jokisch said. “In that way, The Woody’s is not that different from the things that many professors do off campus.”

While students may be surprised to see their professors performing in addition to teaching, Gardner said that he has found that some of the lessons he learned while touring after graduate school can be applied to the way he looks at teaching.

“These people have worked at their lousy jobs all week, and they’re going to come out and spend some of that money to hear us play, so suck it up and do it, because it’s not about you, it’s about them and I feel that way about my teaching,” Gardener said. “It doesn’t matter whether I feel like it or not, it’s about them.”

The Woody’s next performance will take place at the Southern Hops Brewing Company, located off of Palmetto Street, on Friday, Feb. 17 at 8:30 p.m.