Former NLS band teacher spends pandemic writing and recording new music

Carolyn Lange, West Central Tribune, Willmar, Minn.
·6 min read

Mar. 31—NEW LONDON — A quirky sense of humor, combined with the ability to write music, sing and play multiple instruments, has kept Brian Pearson busy over the past year.

A well-worn thesaurus and new recording equipment in the basement studio of his New London home didn't hurt either.

The former New London-Spicer band teacher, who put out a CD of his original music in March of 2020, has written the music and lyrics to four new songs since then and just last month he made 18 of his original tunes available on multiple music streaming services.

Last week he recorded the Litchfield High School band as they played his original score for a catchy tune called "Mistletoe for Christmas" that will be included in the annual holiday music and light show put on by the Litchfield band director. He's working on blending the band music with his vocals and his other instrumental segments for the finished recording.

"This is what you do during a pandemic. You just stay in your basement," said Pearson during an interview last week in that very same basement recording studio.

Hardly one to be contained below ground, Pearson is also gearing up for doing live performances this summer now that COVID restrictions are slowly lifting.

He currently plans to perform as a musician in the pit orchestra at St. John's Preparatory School's spring musical and he'll be performing as a singer and musician in local groups, including the Green Lake Bluegrass Band and 1060 West Addison Blues, during community events.

"A month or two ago, the gigs just kicked in and all in one week we got all sorts of different gigs," he said.

Pearson, who retired five years ago as a band instructor, has always written music.

His former students grew up singing his "School Bus" song and he and his wife, Sherry, also a musician and former NLS elementary music teacher, played his original music at area church services and youth events. Pearson also has a gift for writing parodies of popular songs, much like Weird Al, that — prior to the pandemic — were a big hit with the Friday night beer choir at Goat Ridge Brewery in New London.

See related:

Beer choir in New London: 'It's not weird at all'

New London-Spicer music teachers Sherry and Brian Pearson to retire

The COVID shutdown, when Pearson spent less time performing and more time writing and recording, helped him realize he doesn't want to be as busy post-pandemic and he was pre-pandemic.

Pearson said he's decided to not be involved with some of the community music groups that had taken considerable time in the past and, instead, focus on his music-writing and recording, as well as performing with the Green Lake Bluegrass Band and the 1060 West Addison Blues, which is a Blues Brothers tribute band.

Goofy lyrics

Inspiration for Pearson's songs come from a variety of places.

One of his most recent songs came from the message on a foil wrapper from a piece of Dove chocolate that said "Laugh it off."

He doesn't remember where he was when he ate the chocolate, but he immediately thought the message would make a great title for a song.

After an idea is launched, Pearson said his typical writing process includes going for a walk to put the lyrics together and then heading to his studio full of instruments and recording equipment.

"You start working the details in your head when you're walking and then I get home, and put it on music and tweak it, then you start the recording process and putting the parts in and sometimes it evolves into something totally different," he said.

Sometimes it takes a couple months to finish a song and sometimes it takes a week.

"Laugh it Off" is a light-hearted song describing some potential problems like, "When you don't know who to blame, 'cuz your team just lost the game" with the advice to just "laugh it off."

Despite the happy-go-lucky ukulele Pearson plays in the recording, he acknowledges there are some "questionable lyrics" in the song.

One line of a verse says, "When you've had it up to here, and your fridge is out of beer, laugh it off."

"I do some other goofy stuff," said Pearson.

Pearson loves a good play on words, which is why he set out specifically to write a song with spoonerisms, which takes a common phrase and, by flipping some of the letters of key words, creates an entirely different meaning.

His spoonerism song is called "Hope in my Soul" set to the music of an Irish jig.

Part of the chorus goes "Right from the start I must follow my heart, I have hope, hope in my soul."

When it's flipped, the chorus is, "Right from the start I must hollow my fart, I have soap, soap in my hole."

"It sounds kind of potty-mouthish, but it's really just good clean fun, which is the funny part," said Pearson, who sings 11 parts in the song. "There's nothing dirty about it, it just sounds like it.

It's one of his songs that's available online.

"I don't know if anyone will buy it, but I think they'll think it's funny," Pearson said with a typical self-deprecating laugh. "I thought it turned out way better than I thought it would, although people might disagree."

Pearson paid a $20 annual fee to a digital distribution company called DistroKid that sends his songs to streaming services like iTunes, Spotify and Pandora.

To find his music, a listener has to search for "Brian Dale Pearson" because there's another Brian Pearson who also writes music.

Christmastime tunes

Although he said it's a little odd to be working on a Christmas song in March, Pearson is clearly excited about this latest tune that he's fine-tuning in the studio.

His friend, Dave Caesar, is the band instructor in the Litchfield School District who puts on an elaborate music and light show during the Christmas holiday.

Pearson was invited to write a song for the 2021 show as long as Caesar's high school band was included.

"Dave is a genius and he's a musician, so he really knows how to orchestrate everything," said Pearson.

The lyrics, set to upbeat, peppy music, tell the story of someone buying mistletoe for their significant other for Christmas.

"Is this present for you or me?" the song asks.

"It seems like there is an ulterior motive there," said Pearson, who's hoping to talk his wife into a kiss to provide a sound-effect for the recording.

Pearson said he doesn't have an idea yet for his next new song.

A piece of candy and a walk could change that.