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Spotlight on St. John's Prospect Street Band

Three years ago, the Prospect Street Band formed at St. John's Episcopal Church. They've gone from playing at mass to looking to cut a CD.

The Prospect Street Band, 's resident Christian and folk rock music group, has been a part of the church and Huntington community for the past three years, ever since some of the members' children volunteered them to Father John Morrison, then rector of St. John's.

"Father Morrison wanted to start a folk service," member David Hubelbank said. "The service is mostly hymns, and some people don't find that readily accessible. They wanted more family-friendly music. So Tim's son and my daughter volunteered us."

The band quickly grew in size. It currently consists of Tim Sullivan, who plays guitar, dobro, harmonica and mandolin, Joel Snodgrass, who plays djembe and percussion, Rob Wheeler, Alice Weiser and Eileen Boyd, who all provide vocals, Phill Lofaso, guitar and vocals, MaryKate Brennan, fiddle, and David Hubelbank, guitar and vocals.

The band's name came later, after weeks of deliberation. Finally, Lofaso suggested that since they all met on Prospect Street, why not call themselves the Prospect Street Band? Lofaso then penned a song in honor of the band's namesake.

While Lofaso wrote "Prospect Street" as a religious piece, the band insists that the majority of their music is secular.

"We branched out from just playing music for the church. We started playing non-churchy music as well," Lofaso said. "In the beginning, we all brought in songs we liked."

Indeed, the band has a varied repertoire, consisting of approximately 40 songs. While some of the songs are religious, others are older rock music, such as The Band's "The Weight" or Crosby, Stills and Nash's "Teach Your Children." Many of these 40 songs are also originals, such as Lofaso's "Prospect Street," Hubelbank's "Consider the Lilies" or vocalist Weiser's "Please Abide Me."

Although one member of the band may initially write a song, they all agree that their music is a collaborative process. Often, someone will come in with the lyrics and their part for a song, and each individual will contribute their individual instrument's part to the piece.

Perhaps one the most impressive features of the Prospect Street Band is that almost all the members are self-taught. Except for Brennan, who received viola training in school, every other member has picked up their instrument on their own. The majority of the members are also unable to read music and communicate their pieces to one another primarily by ear.

The band hopes to branch out from its St. John's roots and record a CD. The CD, which they anticipate will be out by February or March, will include a mix of some original pieces and some cover songs. The band is currently searching for its next gig.

Overall, while the band hopes to expand with a CD and additional gigs, they also acknowledge that the primary reason they are there is their love of music.

"It's a music therapy session," Lofaso acknowledges of their practice time, stating that the band has been through some rough times, including periods of unemployment for various band members. "But no matter how bad life is, music makes it go away for the three hours that we're here."

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