Arts & Culture / Mosaic / Music / September 23, 2009

Knox keeps rolling along: The Fulton County Boys uncovered?

As I entered President Roger Taylor’s office and questioned him about the video I’m sure we’ve all seen on either the Knox College website or YouTube, he simply stated that he couldn’t “either confirm or deny” the so-called leak in this media.

This video I am referring to is, of course, what “appears to be” President of the College Roger Taylor, Dean of the College and Vice President for Academic Affairs Lawrence Breitborde, and Vice President for Finance and Administrative Services Tom Axtell in a formulated group/band deemed Roger Taylor & the Fulton County Boys. That is, if I may use the words of President Taylor, “if there were such a thing.”

If there were such a thing, Dean Breitborde would be on accordion, Axtell would be on the spoons (which are, yes, two Dining Services spoons), and President Taylor would be “the lead” (as he calls himself, if there were such a thing). Dean Breitborde added in his interview that there was a rumor of a shortage of spoons in Dining Services, which Axtell supervises. But it is said that Dining Director Helmet Mayer graciously agreed to let Axtell keep the two-spoon inventory for an indefinite period of time—so no worries, Dean Breitborde.

And if there were such a thing, the group is said to have agreed on a “plausible deniability” of sorts, to keep the group a speculation. It is hard to keep plausible deniability when the proof of a group’s existence is all over the web.

In the video, the group performs at an all-faculty lunch, singing an original version of “The Caissons Go Rolling Along,” which they name “Knox College Keeps Rolling Along.” I was given the lyrics by an unnamed source, which are posted along with this article. It was noted that during the performance, the lead singer may or may not have fudged some of the lyrics.

So what is the history behind this mysterious group? How did it get started? The video has sparked many questions among the Knox College campus. Breathe easy, Knox College, for I have received some answers.

If there were such a thing, Roger Taylor & the Fulton County Boys would have started about five years ago. The idea would have stemmed from Dean Breitborde’s performance on accordion at the first faculty meeting years ago. The band began with a regular Wednesday morning breakfast for Dean Breitborde and Axtell.

“Everyone was asking Dean Breitborde if he would perform again,” Axtell said. “And he came to me and said, ‘we have to top it.’”

Therefore, if there were such a thing, Dean Breitborde would have asked Axtell to play the spoons and President Taylor to sing. And if there were such a thing, President Taylor would have agreed to sing “Sue City Sue” at their debut performance, which would have been in September of 2005 at the opening faculty meeting.

“Sue City Sue” was not just a random choice, according to Dean Breitborde. It is said that President Taylor used to sing the chorus of the song at inappropriate times and inappropriate situations. Breitborde went to great lengths to find two copies of the sheet music—one from a web source, and according to Breitborde one from “a person in Galesburg who wishes to remain anonymous.”

And so Roger Taylor & the Fulton County Boys was born, with only President Taylor actually from Fulton County. President Taylor explains that they chose the name because the other two band members “wish they were [from Fulton County].”

Before every performance, Dean Breitborde makes a few announcements to the audience. “I tell the audience there are two important things to remember,” Breitborde recalled. “One: that Knox has a terrific music program, and two: that we have nothing to do with it.” He also has a message for the employees before they perform. “I point out that there are brand new employees present and they may not understand,” he chuckled. “I reassure them that everything will be okay and urge the current employees to get them to remain calm and come back to work the next day.”

Breitborde recalled a strong response after every performance—two kinds. “One is of pure shock and the other is fear for the vitality of the institution,” he said jokingly.

They would go on to perform another year with an original song called “The Hot School Polka.”

Sadly, the group would separate for a year. According to Axtell, the separation was due to “artistic differences.” To President Taylor, “[if there were such a thing] it would have broken up due to artistic sensitivities.” However, it is said by President Taylor that the shocking truth of the group’s dismantle (if there were such a thing) was “due to the Dean being in a funk because he had to carry his own accordion, [aka] professional differences.” Dean Breitborde ironically explained the break-up as “just a bad year.” He also added that he “carries the equipment while the other two just kind of show-up.” (Word has it that the Dean insists on a roadie).

Due to an unfortunate debate amongst the campus regarding the Greek system, Roger Taylor & the Fulton County Boys decided to come back for a reunion tour to give the college “better spirited dialogue,” according to President Taylor. “That is, if such a group existed.” The Dean reportedly continued his funk, which got Axtell pouting about not having a solo on the spoons. He would later get his wish and can be seen giving such a solo in the video of, “Knox College Keeps Rolling Along.”

During the last performance, word allegedly leaked out about Dean Breitborde’s continuing funk. This may or may not be due to the fact that following rehearsal (which they only have one of) at the President’s house, Axtell put salt in the wounds of the Dean. It is said that while the Dean was carrying his accordion, Axtell cunningly asked, “By the way, can I put my spoons in your accordion case?” which in turned outraged the Dean. It could be a future problem.

Hopefully, the future problem will be avoided so Roger & the Fulton County Boys may go on. It is said that two brave volunteer roadies, Caleb Bennett, a programmer in the C & T Center, and Jason Helfer, an Educational Studies professor, have stepped up if needed. They will gladly carry the Dean’s accordion.

Rules of Roger Fulton & the Fulton County Boys

(according to it’s members, if there were such rules):

1. Only one rehearsal, a day or two before the performance.

2. At the rehearsal, the song is not rehearsed more than twice.

3. Only one suggested change is allowed.

These rules are said to make sure that the band peaks at their performance, and not before.

Knox College Keeps Rolling Along

Based on the original song by Edmund L. Gruber (1908), with words adapted by Axtell and Breitborde.

This version:

The following lyrics were added to the existing melody with no respect whatsoever for the intentions or the feelings of either a) the original author, or b) the United States Army. This effort was commissioned by Roger Taylor, for “Roger Taylor & The Fulton County Boys” (summer 2009).

1.

Pioneers settled here

And their fields they all held dear,

And Knox College starts rolling along.

Built a school, made it grand

Had the students work the land,

And Knox College kept rolling along.

For the liberal arts, we dedicate our hearts,

Keeping the Founder’s dream alive;

From then to now, we’ve set aside the plow,

But Knox College keeps rolling along.

2.

Teachers teach, students learn

‘Til their brains begin to churn,

And Knox College keeps rolling along.

If they pass every phase,

They will all get their B.A.’s,

And Knox College keeps rolling along

We will still prevail

In the light of Reverend Gale,

We’ll keep on transforming student lives;

Our grads will make the world a better place,

And Knox College keeps rolling along.

3.

Lots of bills, no more frills,

Facing economic ills,

But Knox College keeps rolling along.

CFO just says no

‘Til V.P.’s approve P.O.’s,

And Knox College keeps rolling along

And it might get worse, but still we’ll stay the course,

Fighting to raise our salaries.

We’ll always try to beat the CPI,

So Knox College keeps rolling along.

4.

With the world full of fear

There’s one thing that’s very clear,

That Knox College keeps rolling along.

To our values we’ll be true

And our goals we will pursue,

While Knox College keeps rolling along:

Academic excellence and more self-confidence,

Financial impregnability.

Where e’er we go, the world will always know,

That Knox College keeps rolling along.

Kylee Norville


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