A live collaboration from the fourth floor

Students come together to create Mac Guy and the Holy Rollers

Feature's Editor, Michael Blickstein

New Trier has a vibrant music scene – a building full of artists and musicians that rivals some small cities. Seniors David Snower and Mandy Watson are part of this scene, and they love it.
The duo started playing together a little over a year ago.
“We met in IGSS because Mandy was quietly singing some song I knew,” Snower said.
“Eventually I also heard David doing the same thing with a Pearl Jam song,” Watson said, “and then we became really good friends.”
Being in IGSS has led them to improve their creative expression and has even led them to name their band (Mac Guy and the Holy Rollers) after their English teacher in the program.
Watson and Snower play shows around twice a month, including lots of open mics. Each of them play at least two instruments along with vocals. Their band uses guitars, drums, mandolins, harmonicas and many other obscure instruments to produce their unique sound. Snower is particularly enthusiastic about his musical repertoire, listing a thunder tube, a dulcimer and a one sided triangle.
“Neil Young and Pearl Jam are huge musical influences for us,” Snower said. “We love old school musicians like Grateful Dead, John Lennon, Cat Stevens and Pink Floyd,” Watson said.
The duo incorporates songs from all of their influences into their set.
The band plays mostly local shows, such as Band Together, No Screens Attached and a charity show at Winnetka Youth Organization. They said that the biggest crowd to date was 70 people at a Rotary Club function.
The duo also plays with other musicians from New Trier. These include Seniors Will Sommer, Ella Harris, Nikki Lamagno, Nicky Kacena and Carly Maisel, as well as Junior Sofie Way, Cam Schiller (class of 2015) and English teacher Jeff Markham.
“The Winnetka Youth show was actually the first show we played as Mac Guy and the Holy Rollers,” said Sommer, who played with the band often. “The other artists were really talented and the gig was a lot of fun.”
Sommer has taken a hiatus playing with the band to record a solo album and focus on other projects.
“The most fun we’ve ever had playing was when everything was just a total trainwreck,” Watson said. “We were playing during Band Together and there was a point in the show where everything just completely fell apart.”
“We don’t really know what even happened,” Snower said. “But we just smiled and kept playing the rest of our set.”
Watson and Snower participate in other extracurricular activities as well.
“I’ve been sailing all four years of high school,” Watson said. “I’m the captain of the team this year and I even lived on a boat sophomore year.” Watson spent her second semester of sophomore year sailing from Trinidad to the northeast coast of Canada and ending in Maine.
Snower, on the other hand, considers himself to be an environmental activist. “In environmental club, we raise money for environmental charities, have river cleanups, and try to get keynote speakers to talk about environmental problems.” Snower mentioned that he also ran cross country and is somewhat active in meditation club.
Snower and Watson firmly believe that live music is less about raw talent and more about a passion and enthusiasm for what you’re playing. They believe that music is a right, not a luxury.
The duo invites anyone who wants to jam with them to come and play. They feel that the more people they can play with, the more people they can immerse in great music and a great time.
“I mean, look at all the greats,” said Watson. “You have bands like the Clash and other amazing, popular musicians who just couldn’t play at all, but just loved it.”