In 2010, Staples grad Fred Cantor co-wrote “Monbo Time.” It was a paean to pitcher Bill
Monbouqette Monbouquette, and 40 years of Red Sox history.
The legendary Remains — a band that got their start in Boston, but whose lead singer Barry Tashian and keyboardist Bill Briggs called Westport home — recorded the song. They donated half of all revenues from it to cancer research and treatment.
But Fred is not a Red Sox fan. He loves basketball, and has been a New York Knicks fanatic since before the championship days of Willis and Walt.
So for his encore sports-songwriting effort — again for charity — he’s gone to the hoop.
Fred — who in real life is an attorney — chose Tyson Chandler. The veteran center “epitomizes selfless team play,” Fred says. “I really appreciate that, not only as a longtime fan but also having played on successful soccer teams at Staples and Yale.”
If the Knicks win an NBA title for the 1st time in 4 decades — since Fred was young — Tyson will be key.
First, Fred wrote some lyrics that capture the essence of Tyson’s game. Then he decided to give him a nickname. “I feel he deserves even greater recognition than he’s gotten,” the songwriter says.
Which is how Tyson Chandler became “The Minister of D.”
Next, Fred called Charlie Karp and Michael Mugrage. Both are Staples classmates of Fred’s — and friends dating back to Coleytown Elementary and Coleytown Junior High, respectively.
They’re hugely talented musicians. Charlie left Staples to join Buddy Miles’ band. He played at Jimi Hendrix’s memorial service, and earned a devoted local following with bands like White Chocolate, Dirty Angels and Slo Leak.
Michael toured with Orleans, and composed music for Chaka Khan, Smokey Robinson and Terry Cashman’s classic “Talkin’ Baseball.”
“I wanted a song that combined different elements,” Fred explains. “The lyrics were to be rapped, but I also wanted a funk sound that evokes the era when the Knicks won their 2 titles. And I wanted the song to be part rock.”
“We wanted the music to harken back to the glory days of the Knicks of the early ’70s,” Michael told TheKnicksBlog. The site describes that “New York cool” time of Sly and the Family Stone, and Isaac Hayes, as “an era one imagines Tyson would have felt right at home in.”
Within minutes of getting together, Charlie and Michael nailed it. After a bit more work, they recorded it with sound engineer Tom Hawes.
They continued to improvise, taking turns on lead and bass guitar, and sharing vocals in different octaves to create harmonies (and a “big group” sound). At the end, they created crowd noise to mimic the Garden.
Tyson’s reps say he is honored by the song. He feels good too that 25% of the royalties go to the Garden of Dreams Foundation, benefiting kids facing obstacles.
And Fred no doubt feels good that he’s written a song about favorite team. Not the Red Sox.
(Click here to hear “The Minister of D.” Search “Charlie Karp & Mike Mugrage” on iTunes to buy it.)
Nice story. I remember “Monbo Time” and completely agree with Fred that Tyson Chandler is a flashback to the type of player that made the Knicks so compelling during the late 60s and early 70’s. Unfortunately, he is one of the few on the team like that these days. I have noted also that Fred is one of the rare contributers of comments to “06880” who does not comment unless he has something positive to say….something we need more of these days, as we also need more unselfish, team players such as the “Minister of D”
It’s Bill Monbouquette!!! I can’t comment on the Knicks, but would have rather had a song about a Celt!
Charlie–you’re absolutely right about the full spelling of Monbo’s name but, in Dan’s defense, even I somehow failed to notice it (and Dan did have the correct spelling in the original piece he wrote about “Monbo Time”). Bill and Isaac, thanks.
I loved the Song!! Congrats Fred, Charlie and Mike! I can see the team playing it when he does whatever he does. (ack.. don’t watch basketball)
Mary, thanks. I’ll pass that on to Charlie and Michael. Incidentally, I believe Tyson’s agency is the same one that expressed preliminary interest in your son a little while back. (They represent Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter, Blake Griffin, among others. It looks like it would be a great agency for your son to sign with–if it is the same agency that expressed interest.)