SONG OF THE SAX
1989 University of Kentucky Yearbook
On campus in the afternoon, or around midnight, one might have heard the faint weeping of a saxophone. The music blended so well with the rich autumn atmosphere that it might not have been noticed at first.
Then, as the notes became clearer, the musician became visible. He was standing on the fountain wall in front of the 18-story Patterson Office Tower. He played for no specific audience, but welcomed passersby. He was quick to converse with listeners during his breaks.
There was no music stand before him. Everything he played was produced by either memory or improvisation. His music was smooth and familiar. However, the familiarity seemed to fade as his concentration drifted to and from the objects and people which surrounded him.
The saxophonist was Dominic Eardley, a UK senior. At first glance, he did not look like a "Dominic," but rather, a "Tom" or "Bob." Everything about him seemed peaceful and ordinary.
In actuality, Dominic was somewhat of an eccentric. He attended a boarding school in New England while his father taught at Princeton University. In 1972, his father began lecturing at UK. He and his family have lived in Lexington since that time. Indecision on a major had led him to his sixth year at UK, and he hoped to graduate as a history major at the end of the 1988 fall semester. Although Dominic admittedly flaunted poor study habits and procrastination, he was a member of the Honors Program.
One reason for his procrastination was his saxophone. No matter how much he had to do, if he looked at his saxophone propped against the wall long enough, he would give in and play until he was satisfied. For Dominic, playing his sax, indoors or out, was comparable to "scratching an itch."
Dominic was seen and heard at a number of locations throughout campus. Two of his favorite places, depending on the weather, were in front of Patterson Office Tower and under the skywalk connecting the old and new student centers.
When asked why he liked to play outdoors, he said, "Because I enjoy it, and I think it sounds nice." Aside from enjoyment, there was a practical reason. Dominic did not practice in his apartment because both of his roommates work. Out of consideration, he practiced elsewhere.
Dominic taught himself to play the saxophone two years ago. When he was young, his mother pushed him to play the piano. He would often practice six hours each day. At age 11, he performed in recitals at Transylvania University. His experience with the piano helped him learn to play the saxophone, as he simply applied his knowledge of music to another instrument.
Since he has never had formal training, he was concerned with technical skills that he might not be able to develop correctly. For this reason, he planned to take a music theory class.
Dominic had always been interested in all types of music and instruments. He listened to everything from Bruce Springsteen's rock'n'roll to Benny Goodman's big band swing. To explain his varied musical tastes, Dominic offered an analogy. "It's like walking through a flower garden. When you see a flower you like, you pick it up and take it with you."
His latest musical interest, the saxophone, evolved from a Halloween party. He went dressed as Clarence Clemmons, a popular saxophonist in the music industry who played for Bruce Springsteen. He borrowed a saxophone from a girlfriend, and later purchased it for $200.
After playing the saxophone for only two years, he moved outdoors last summer. He loved for people to gather when he played. The largest crowd he ever entertained was in downtown Lexington in front of the neon-tipped Bank of Lexington, when 25 gathered.
For Dominic, each outdoor playing session was a "semiperformance." He believed music was meant to be performed and that more musicians should share their talent in this way.
He had learned to expect any of five reactions from audience members or people walking by. If they were interested, they would smile and stop to listen. Some looked at him confusedly, while others seem alarmed. Then, there were the "smart alecks" who might ask if he knew anything by Del Leppard. However, the ones that Dominic could not figure out were those who do not react at all. "How can anyone just ignore the music?" he asked.
Dominic liked to know that his music touched people. If his music helped someone to relax, or if someone simply thought his music sounded nice, then he was satisfied. The greatest compliment he recalled was a woman's saying that his music helped her get through a rough day.
Dominic planned to play outdoors as long as the weather permitted and as long as he enjoyed it. On Monday nights, he could be heard at the King's Arm Pub, where he performed with an old jazz trumpeter, George Gentry. Continuing to concentrate on completing his major in history, he hoped to break into the movie production business when he attained his master's. He hoped to be out of school by age thirty.