Aberdeen High grads keep on rockin'

Some Aberdeen High School graduates are keeping the glory days and the music of their younger days alive in a band they've been a part of since the 1960s.

"Back then, there weren't any DJs, there were local bands," Paul Ross, a 1967 Aberdeen High School graduate, said this week.

Ross is a member of State of Mind and Friends, the band with roots to their high school days.

"We play only '60s music," he said, "the music that was on the radio when we graduated."

That music will be rocking Rockfield Manor in Bel Air Saturday when State of Mind plays for the 50-year reunion of the Aberdeen High School Class of 1967.

The band reformed after decades and careers and families that have taken them across the country.

"They live all around," Ross said.

All around is from Aberdeen to Pennsylvania to Florida to Hawaii.

The State of Mind players include the four originals, who are Bruce Chapman on keyboards, Jeff Fiehler on guitar, Howard Latham on drums and Bill Sissom on lead guitar and bass.

Ross is one of the members of State of Mind and Friends who were with other bands in high school and the '60s. He was with Dr. Soul and the Interns and Harold Baker, another keyboard player, was with The Notations.

William Kussmaul, a retired heart surgeon and president of the Class of 1967, is a relative newcomer, as is Margot Gibson, one of the singers, and Tara Sissom, another singer and Bill Sissom's daughter. Mike Hiob, the former Aberdeen City Councilman and one of Bill Sissom's cousins, is also with State of Mind.

"It's like a big family thing," Ross said.

That family thing hits the road this weekend in Bel Air not only to entertain friends and former classmates, but also to raise money for two good causes.

Ross said the band members incur all the expenses and donate all proceeds, mostly from donations and T-shirt sales, to worthy causes whenever they play. They generally play about once a year, he said.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Harford County and the committee raising money to erect a memorial in Havre de Grace in honor of the late Ernest Burke, a former Negro Leagues baseball player and Havre de Grace native, are this year's beneficiaries.

State of Mind and Friends started playing again for the 40-year reunion of the Aberdeen High School Class of 1969. That was also a fundraiser for a scholarship fund to honor James B. King, their school's popular music teacher.

"We chose to honor this outstanding teacher," Sue Rollins, who helped organize that 40-year reunion, told The Record in an interview at the time. "He taught us more than just music. He was a gentleman, a man of character and instilled in his students the love of music."

That initial reunion for State of Mind and Friends turned into an annual event.

"We get together once a year," Ross said. "It's a great thing."

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