For the second year in a row, Mark Volman has taken 10 of his Belmont University students along to learn the ropes of the concert touring business.
The legendary Turtles vocalist and founding member, who lives near the Nashville college, is known as Professor Flo when not on the road, “Flo,” of course, being half of the Flo & Eddie duo he’s also part of, with longtime Turtles lead singer Howard (Eddie) Kaylan.
Volman serves at Belmont as a professor in the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business. He conducts formal and makeshift classes for his touring students at the venues on the current Northeastern leg of the Happy Together Tour 2013, which stars Mark Lindsay, Chuck Negron, Gary Puckett and Gary Lewis in addition to The Turtles.
Friday night at NYCB Theatre at Westbury in Long Island, he was eating dinner outside with a few of his kids prior to the show.
“It doesn’t get more hands-on than this!” said Sam Pauly, and nodding toward her teacher, she added: “It’s the most golden opportunity to decide if you want to spend your life in live touring or working in the music business in general–and you get to see the best of the best perform timeless music. I stand on the side of the stage and boogie all night! My father would be doing the same thing if he were here.”
Of course, the focus is on work for the Belmont students.
“Some of it I don’t love to do,” conceded Pauly. “I don’t exactly love winding cables, but I’m rewarded with a timeless piece of music history. And these guys are so much fun to hang out with at the end of the night.”
Volman pointed out that Mark Lindsay, for example, offered the students a particularly distinct take on stardom.
“He shows you how to deal with the specter of being a teen idol,” said Volman. “He was like Justin Bieber! Girls were chasing him everywhere and never left him alone. I wished it happened to me!”
Volman gave additional insight into his own experiences at his students’ age.
“I did what you’re doing,” he said, referencing his and Kaylan’s pre-Turtles’ stint with their surf-rock group The Crossfires.
“I turned 18, and thought everybody loved me!” he noted. “But we were doing two songs a show, and I knew nothing about life. It’s a learning process.”
Which is just fine by Stefan Ng.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be on the road with your professor, learning the tricks and trade of road life,” said Ng, who hails from Singapore.
“It’s more special as an international student,” Ng added. “Mark is so full of knowledge, and willing to impart that knowledge and mold us into something else.”
Which is why Ng came to America.
“I didn’t know Mark or The Turtles,” he admitted. “But I was listening to ‘Happy Together’ when I was young—and then I realized that the lead singer is my professor! It made me feel special and unique-and makes my parents proud and helps put Singapore on the map.”
Aware that The Turtles are now old enough to have been at it nearly 50 years, Pauly wondered whether they’ll even be around next year. Sure enough, Kaylan joked about their mortality during The Turtles’ set, when he gave the crowd the chance to snap a potential “last picture” of him and Volman together, suggesting that at their age, either or both might conceivably drop dead the following day.
“Will The Turtles be around next year?” Pauly asked. “I sure hope so!”
After the show, Volman expressed his hope that these class trips would be “part of my legacy.”
For the moment, at least, it’s a living legacy.
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