“Jerry is truly a man you don’t meet every day,” Mr. Michael Rosemond said, yet for most of Longmeadow High School’s students this isn’t true. Mr. Jerry Murphy is someone they see every day but never think twice about it.
For students, high school custodians tend to stay in the background. For many who have listened to him perform, though, Mr. Murphy doesn’t just stay in the background. When performing as a talented musician, he is very much in the foreground.
“He has played all over the world,” said Principal Landers. Mr. Murphy has indeed toured all over Ireland and has played an impressive amount of shows in New York City, all with different bands. When he was 11, he also competed in the Irish Step-Dancing Nationals in Canada and placed. “I went out and danced and played the accordion with the bands.”
Mr. Murphy, an accomplished accordion player, didn’t start with the instrument of his choice, however. “I started off with the flute,” he said, “[my mother’s] cousin was a famous flute player in Ireland.” Eventually, he did get his first accordion, and, from that point on, it was his main instrument. Mr. Murphy did not learn like everybody else typically does through books and painful lessons. Instead, he used his ears to figure out what was going on. “I did have a teacher, but he would just give me the stuff to learn by ear.”
Mr. Murphy will often play locally in Northhampton and down in Glastonbury, CT at the Irish American Home Society which, according to their website, is “A Society that brings together Irish and Irish American families and practices and preserves Irish traditions, culture, music, and friendship.”
Mr. Murphy also plays with the Stout Porters, a band made up of staff at LHS, namely Principal Thomas Landers and Mr. Rosemond. “The Stout Porters never play for money and we perform for non-profits,” said Principal Landers, “Over the last several years we’ve raised over $10,000 for charity.” The band predominantly performs in March due to Saint Patrick’s Day on the 17th. When asked what Mr. Murphy brings to the band Mr. Rosemand repeatedly mentioned Jerry as a “raw and incredible talent… [who] just blows us out of the water”
The spotlight doesn’t stray too far from Mr. Murphy. On Saint Patrick’s Day, he will come in and play in Mr. John Williams’ English classes. When asked why Mr. Murphy said that “[Mr. Williams] came up to me and asked if I could play since he was teaching about Ireland and the culture.”
Although Mr. Murphy performs every year, the general population at LHS is unaware either of his skill or even Mr. Murphy himself. However, the camaraderie he has found in his bandmates and colleagues has made LHS a special place. “I feel like I’m meant to be here,” was what Mr. Murphy said, “It’s fantastic.” Whether it’s the Red bulls or the coffees it certainly takes a lot to be Jerry Murphy, with or without the accordion.