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Charlie Mitchell #25

"I want to be a musician," said Mitchell, when he finished High School. He got his degree in music, but instead was hired as intramural sports coordinator at NOVA.

This was not too much of a digression, as Mitchell had been an active athlete all his life. Playing first-string halfback in his sophomore year at Hammond High School, he was caught up in the turmoil when Hammond and T.C. Williams combined. He ended up forgoing football for track and gymnastics and graduated from Annandale High School.

Music was still his love, however, so a few years later, he packed up and headed for California. He worked the circuit playing for 25-30 different bands in the San Diego area. With a house close to the beach, it was a nice lifestyle, yet in 1991, something told him he needed to head back East.

He moved home to find that he was indeed needed; his mother had pancreatic
cancer. He took care of her until she passed away.

After she died, he connected with an old music buddy, Bruce Middle, with whom he played with for about a year. When a group called Solar Circus came into town, he jumped at an offer to tour with it. "Exhilarating, fun and extremely trying" was how he described his five years on the road. He also said, "I wouldn't trade it for the world." Solar Circus, now defunct, opened for groups like Spencer Davis, Jefferson Starship and The Band and even played a set with Bruce Springstein.

Back in town again, Mitchell regrouped and started a blues band called "Deacons" with buddies John O'Connor, Jeff Holdridge and Bruce Middle. They play frequently in the area including once a month at Cowboy Cafe. He also plays with a jazz group called "Steps in Time" which can be seen at Club 219 in Old Town on Oct. 24, Nov. 21 and Dec. 5.

Mitchell was still trying to figure out what else to do when somebody suggested that he start teaching. With that recommendation, he hooked up with the Alexandria Music Store and became its certified drum teacher. A little over a year later, Mitchell has 35-40 students a week and a waiting list.

His students range in age from 6 to 56 and include a urologist and optometrist. One of his students, Mike DeCastro (whose brother Paul is top drummer at West Potomac) was recently accepted by the Duke Ellington School of Music. Nate Nash, who was also coached by Mitchell, was accepted by the University of Indiana, the number two music school in the country.

Special mention: Currently taking lessons from Horatio (El Negro) Hernandez, a famous drummer.

Hobbies: Mitchell is an avid athlete, and likes to work out, boogie board, water-ski, snow ski, play tennis and bike.


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