Posted by: boromax | November 22, 2019

New Wrinkles Journal #5


These days apparently “mentor” is effectively an official title. Mentors are selected and assigned; sometimes even paid.

When I was young, a mentor was anyone who freely helped you learn, grow, and develop skills.  It was more or less an organic thing.  I don’t mean it was accidental, per se; but that the circumstances of one’s life led naturally to encountering and spending time with people who could (and would) impart knowledge, demonstrate behavior patterns, and patiently share their expertise.

I have only ever had one person in my life who was specifically assigned to be my mentor.  That was (is!) Richard Wayne.  His “job” was to help me learn the ropes of being a New Wrinkles cast member. Our Director assigns a mentor to each newbie every year.  Richard is mine.  Richard is a terrific mentor (and friend; and fellow tenor).  I can’t say whether I have made his job as a mentor easy or maddening.  Perhaps the full story is yet to be told.

I dare say most, if not all, New Wrinkles cast members arrive with at least SOME interest, experience, education, background, desire, inkling, hint, talent, curiosity – you know, something that drew them to join us.  In a few cases it may have been the persistent badgering of a friend or spouse, but hey.

The point is: New Wrinkles is a different kind of animal. We all need a little guidance when we step into it.  I was glad to have a guru to guide me.

So, Richard is the only person who has ever been formally labeled ‘mentor’ for me.

Nevertheless, over the years, there have been many – MANY – people whom I would consider mentors along my way. In fact, there are way too many to name them all; or even remember their names for that matter. Still, what the heck, I am going to give it a whirl.

I have had mentorish people in several areas of my life. Since this blog is (supposed to be) about music, I am only going to mention folks who contributed in some way to who I became as a musician; although usually these people injected much more into my life than just musical knowledge and principles.  For the record, I am still becoming. That is why I still need mentors.

Brace yourself, this may start to sound like an “I’d like to thank…” speech.

I’ll start with my mom. It was her voice and her piano-playing that I was hearing while I was still in the womb. And she never stopped singing into my life. Her alto-ness contributed greatly to my tenor-ness. She went to be with the Lord thirty years ago (November 19, 1989).  I love you, Mom!

Of course, I had several choir directors and music ministers who were also great vocal coaches and performance teachers. Among them were Jim Rountree, David Caress, Alex Chavez, AV Wall, Steve Collins, Joe Gilmore, Ron Shirey, Harry Gray, Jim Winchester, Sal Farentelli, Lou Sanders, Larry Warkentin, Becky Sarkisian, Terry Estabrook. That is by no means a complete list.  We are talking about 60+ years of input here, people.

Certain contemporaries also showed me how to be a better singer, team member, and just a better person in general.  For example, Dennis McFarling was ever and always a shining example of talent, humility, patience, and humor. I truly am a different person because of Dennis’ influence. Besides being together in choir and on stage, we shared a hall locker in high school, and we were roommates in college. He stood up with me at my wedding and I stood up with him at his wedding.

Plus, Dave Slaten, Gerald Steinsiek, Paul Mathis, Dave Ratzlaff, Tony Briseno, A.G. Black, Tom Cook… and on and on and on.

There is a long list of others with whom I sang in choirs and on stage and in worship and around the campfire and in various living rooms all over creation – all of them spoke/sang into my life with their actions, their attitudes, and their voices.

Well. I am a little overwhelmed right now. This list will be a really long list. Dozens of wonderful people have impacted my life in the pursuit of music and worship. I have a warm spot in my heart for each and every one!

I will mention Ann Schultz and Kate Snider, with whom Wendy and I sang and played at Har Adonai in Monterey for many years. We have seldom experienced the kind of glorious unity and harmony as we did with them – vocal, musical, spiritual – literally divine.  (Yes, Terry Estabrook – dih–vine, not dee-vine) (And yes, Darrell Yates, ‘literally.’)

And now among my New Wrinkles cast mates I am finding further indescribable growth and learning.

I love every one of you!

That is all.


[Exit Up Right]


  1. Great post. Here’s to mentors! 🍻

    • Right on! Cheers!

  2. my mentors are all in writing and I owe them much love and gratitude; sadly, as in your circle too, I’m sure. many have passed on 😦

    • Yes, more often than not we are the ones passing our hard-earned wisdom to the next generation(s). “Hard-earned” but most of the time seriously joyous.

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