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Two bands well known by local teenagers in the '60s reunited for Hendersonville High School's Class of '68 reunion on Saturday. The bands are playing a benefit concert today at the HHS Auditorium.
The Casuals rehearsed a set of beach music and Motown hits Saturday morning, followed by the Mandarin Caste, a British invasion band that plays the Beatles, Rolling Stones and other rock'n'roll bands.
The Class of '68 event is not open to the public. It was put together by Carey O'Cain and the reunion committee. The benefit concert for the HHS Alumni Association is open to the public. It's at 2:30 p.m. today at the HHS Auditorium.
Formed in 1966 at East Henderson High School, the Mandarin Caste was made up of Tom Eizonas, Mike Carlisle and Sammy Milner. It added others later, including bass player Adrian Kerley, who will join the band tonight. Three members — Eizonas, Carlisle and Philip Gaeser — went on to lifelong careers in music in Tennessee.
Music was so much part of Eizonas's life that he remembers the day his music pursuit begin.
"I started playing guitar on March 5, 1963," he said. "I was 12 years old."
He had the requisite hairdo for a rock musician, and paid the price.
"I got thrown out of East Henderson High School in 1967 for having long hair," he said. "The football players tried to cut it. So I went to Hendersonville High School. When school started in 1967, Mr. (Hugh) Lockaby (the principal) made the speech he always made at the start of the year. The first thing he says is all you guys with hair covering your ears or over your collar must leave here."
Robin Farqhuar, the son of Playhouse founder Robroy Farquhar, also played with the band. Mandarin Caste went on to form a successor band, All You Can Eat.
"I was out at the Playhouse all the time," Gaeser said. "Robroy and Leona were like my second parents.
The three Mandarin Caste alums who moved to Nashville continued to play over the year.
"Tom, Mike and I played in different configurations and different bands forever," said Gaeser, who is the drummer.
Led by Pat Corn, a professional musician and arranger for 40 years in Nashville, the Casuals featured Corn, Mary Ann Sumner Maitland, Ann Eudy Ferguson and David Drake on vocals, Mike Hall on drums, Jack Farris and Frank Todd on trumpet, Jimmy Sinclair on keyboards and Don Burts on keyboards and trombone.
READ MORE: Teenage bands the Casuals and Mandarin Caste bring beach music, Motown and British bands to Hendersonville in the Sixties. http://www.hendersonvillelightning.com/news/2108-renowned-town-bands-reunite-for-hhs-68-reunion.html
The Casuals and The Mandarin Caste
2:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday
Suggested donation: $5 each
Proceeds support HHS Alumni Association