Belfast band reunites after 45-year hiatus

By Ben Holbrook | Aug 02, 2012
Courtesy of: Arthur Abbott From left: Roustabout band members Dennis Jackson, guitar, Arthur Abbott, drums, Tom Nickerson, guitar and John Jackson, bass guitar.

Belfast — Belfast High School classes of 1966, 1967 and 1968 are in for a treat as the band The Roundabouts reunites after 45 years to play at the class reunion Saturday, August 4.

Arthur Abbott, bass player for The Roustabouts, said he and his band-mates have been rehearsing for their performance at the 45th class reunion at Belfast Area High School. Abbott, who is a 1967 graduate, said he’s nervous, but excited to get on the stage and play.

“It’s a rush. It’s sort of like a runner who loves to run and gets that rush. We love to perform,” Abbott said.

Abbott will be joined by guitarist and lead vocalist Tom Nickerson, guitarist Dennis Jackson, Judson Stanley on keyboard and drummer Barry Way. The band will perform a selection of cover songs by the Beatles and Creedence Clearwater Revival, as well as a few original songs written by Nickerson.

The chance to reunite as a band and play at the class reunion is a special moment for Abbott, who said the last time he played with Nickerson, Way and Jackson was in high school, even though the friends told each other they would stay together and continue to play.

One of the more memorable moments for the band members was in 1965 when they competed in the Spotlight on Youth contest, which aired before the Channel 2 news, Abbott said. The Roustabouts ended up winning the band portion of the overall competition.

“We played a couple of events in high school — mainly to make a little money — but then the service got us,” Abbott said.

The band was put on hold as Abbott and Jackson served during the Vietnam War, but as soon as he got out, Abbott said, he started calling everybody to see if they could start playing again. Unfortunately, he said, life got in the way and many of them ended up getting married and taking jobs and hopes of reuniting the band were put on the back burner.

“Now that we’re retired, we’re committed to staying together,” Abbott said.

Over the course of playing music, Abbott has gone from percussion instruments to the bass guitar, which he said he fell in love with the first time he picked one up.

Abbot said the idea of reuniting was first broached when the class reunion committee contacted Nickerson, who continued to pursue music after high school, about possibly playing during the event. Nickerson then contacted Abbott, who jokingly agreed to play as long as Jackson said he would play, too.

“I didn’t think Dennis would say yes,” Abbott said, laughing. “I think it will be a great time.”

Once the band members agreed to perform, Abbott said, everybody selected about half a dozen songs to practice. However, it wasn’t until everybody gathered together to play that Abbott realized how special it was to have the band together again.

“When we started playing, it was like 45 years hadn’t even passed,” he said.

Although Abbott acknowledges he is nervous about the performance, he said the band had the chance to play at his mother-in-law’s 80th birthday party, and they received an overwhelmingly positive response from everyone.

“That was a relief,” Abbott said. “We hadn’t played together in 45 years.”

As the day of the class reunion draws nearer, Abbott said the thing he is most looking forward to is seeing his old classmates and experiencing “the camaraderie of the class.”

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at bholbrook@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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