Technician Finds His Groove in Music

October 31, 2006

By Pamela McLaren

Jeff Newell, an Information Technology staff member, has a story to tell, and pieces of it have undoubtedly found their way into the music he plays.
But it wasn’t always so. In high school, he was “the geeky looking kid that no one liked,” he remembers. “I looked strange, I felt strange.”
One day a student named Larry — who Newell thought was kinda cool — walked up to him and asked if Newell was a bass player.
Newell was dumbfounded. “I told him I didn’t even know what a bass was.”
The admission — far from sending Larry away — led to the guy asking Newell to join his band, if he could find himself a bass and amplifier.
Fat chance that’s going to happen, said Newell to himself. Except that when he got to his after school job at McDonalds, he discovered that the manager was getting married and selling some of his possessions — including a bass and amplifier.
“It seemed kind of a sign,” remembers Newell, who slapped down the total of two-weeks salary, still feeling “like a fish out of water.”
For two days he practiced at Larry’s house, getting a feel for the bass. “Then Larry said that he was going to get the whole band together for a practice and told me that they were going to set up on Sunday at the local VFW. When I got there I discovered it was not practice, but a gig.
“I somehow managed to not embarrass myself and even got some compliments — after only two days of practice!” Such is the stuff of legend, or in Newell’s case, a brief fling in the musical limelight.
He was a member of a rock band that toured the western United States in the ’70s before returning to his home town in the San Gabriel Valley, getting married and having kids. For a while, he didn’t play at all. Then in 1991, he slowly got his feet wet, playing with several local groups — a practice he continues to this day. One Foot In was already a group but had lost a member when they asked Newell to join them for a concert at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. He’s been with them ever since.


Jeff Newell
Jeff Newell