Bryan Brothers, doubles champs, rock the house


YOU MAY KNOW BOB AND MIKE BRYAN AS THE world's No. 1-ranked doubles team in tennis. But, who knew that they were dynamite on keyboards, guitar and drums in their own Bryan Brothers rock band?

Just ask any of the gang -- like Baltimore CEO Club president Doug Strouse, tennis champions Andrea Leand and Elise Burgin, Baltimore Tennis Patrons board member Gail Hagerty and tennis teaching pro Ronald Scott. They were all at the Rock-n-Racquets Reception and Auction shindig that Baltimore-born tennis champ Pam Shriver throws every year, the night before her annual Mercantile Tennis Challenge.

"They like music as much as they like tennis," their father, Wayne Bryan, explained, as his sons rocked the Hippodrome Theatre's reception hall. The elder Bryan apparently set the family standard, working as a tennis coach and performing in his own rock 'n' roll band for the last 30 years.

"We used to bring the boys to some of our gigs when they were small, and they'd sleep behind the stage," Wayne Bryan said. Those same band members continue to perform with the younger Bryans, who have apparently rebelled against playing just the old rock standards, according to their dad. "They play [songs by] U2, Dave Matthews, John Mayer. So, they've made the band learn them."

The rebellion certainly was a victory this particular night; the audience thoroughly enjoyed the show. How could you not, when Shriver and former doubles partner Martina Navratilova acted as the band's go-go dancers during its opening number, "Brown-Eyed Girl"?

"I think they missed their calling," noted Clinton Kelly, president of Baltimore Tennis Patrons, the night's top beneficiary. His friend Tom Wilcox, Baltimore Community Foundation president, heartily agreed.

"What a wonderful prelude to tomorrow night," said Sharon Perfetti, director of the Cool Kids Campaign, one of the party's other beneficiaries.


He's a scavenger, artist and thrill seeker

Baltimore native David Hess, 42, has gained a national reputation as a sculptor and furniture maker. He's best known for pieces he makes of found items, and for monumental public sculpture, like the staircase at the American Visionary Art Museum, and a 195-foot sculpture hanging in the rental-car facility at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. Hess lives in Phoenix -- where he has his studio in a barn -- with wife Sally Hess, daughter Sophie, 13, and son, Eli, 11.

You make both art and furniture.

I did filmmaking for a while. I produced a documentary that was on PBS in 1999. It was a film about a race-car driver, The Green Monster, about Art Arfons. He was 64 when he started trying to break the land speed record. He was 70 when [the film] aired. He didn't break the record, but he broke a couple other records in the 1960s. He holds the record for the world's fastest car crash. Was he hurt?

Oh, yeah, but he went back and did it a year later. I was interested in him because he was a version of Wile E. Coyote. And he [often builds his cars] with stuff he finds in junkyards, military junkyards. And I work with a lot of found objects in my work. Where do you find a "found object"?

Junkyards. In people's basements or attics. People ask me to clean out their attics. ... I work primarily with wood and metal and concrete and glass. How much time do you spend scavenging?

A lot less than I used to. I used to spend about one day a week. Now it's probably a couple of hours a week. But, now I've got so much stuff stashed in my barn because I've been doing this for 20 years. And a lot of my bigger pieces are fabricated, [like] my newer public sculpture. Are you also good at fixing things around the house?

I built our house, with a contractor's help. If it's a pretty major problem, I probably call the expert. But, I do fix things. Is creating your art fun?

Yeah. I have a great time. It's a lot of work, but I wouldn't want to do anything else. What else do you do to have fun?

We spend a lot of time together as a family. We eat a lot and cook a lot. We go to a lot of my son's soccer and lacrosse games. My daughter plays field hockey, and also plays the viola. So, what do you do in your down time?

Crossword puzzles. I do the Sunpaper and New York Times crosswords. [I spend] about an hour on them every day. It's satisfying to see one finished ... I really like Jon Stewart. I listen to him while I do crosswords. Do you read?

Not as much as I'd like. I read the newspaper and Harper's Magazine. ... We go to the movies a couple of times a month. ... My son and I watch football. I'm really into football. ... I like the Ravens. My wife and daughter get a little horrified with me. My daughter says, "Dad, you're not supposed to be into that. You're an artist." What's something people don't know about you?

I was in a fraternity at Dartmouth. My daughter's unhappy about that, too. I wear a beret. I'd like to be an astronaut. I really like to ride roller coasters, too. ... I'm a thrill seeker. I like to go fast. Skiing, driving. I would like to sky-dive. And bungee jump?

No. Have you ever seen a bolt sheared in half? It's too contingent on hardware failure. ... Metal is deceiving. Most people have this impression that it's this permanent thing. Steel. Stainless steel. But, it's very malleable.

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