Mossman is all about living in the moment
Living in the moment is what George Mossman is all about. His two professions, teaching middle school English and playing drums in (currently) three bands, keep him in the moment. Loving life and living it to the fullest.
George is the youngest of 10 in a “very musical family.” His mother was a music major and his father paid his way through Harvard Medical School playing drums for a swing band. He played into his 60s.
All of his older siblings, including his twin brother, Peter, were musically inclined and trained. George tried to follow suit. However, after his first year in band in fourth grade, he quit. His music teacher said he had to learn to play the bells before he could play the drums.
“I didn’t think that was right, so I quit.”
In middle school George attended a Junior Naval Academy and was in the drum corps. He rose to company commander of the Bugle Corps in eighth grade.
In high school he started his first band, Bad Reality. They were mostly a cult and Billy Idol cover band.
“I sorta played guitar in that band, but I was mostly faking it. I didn’t know how to play.”
While attending Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina, he met fellow Salida musician Chris Nasca. After the first year there, he transferred to the University of Maryland, where he studied pharmacy, microbiology and eventually graduated with a degree in American Literature.
A year later he returned to finish his pre-med requirements, with the plan of becoming a physician’s assistant.
A year later, in 1995, George moved to Colorado and gave up the physician plan. His friend, Nasca, needed a percussionist for his Summit County-based band, Area 39.
“I packed up my van, quit my job and I’ve been here ever since.”
George moved straight to Granite and would commute to Summit County for gigs. He said granite was the only place he could find to rent. Eight months later he moved to Salida.
Aside from an open mic once, Mossman’s first real gig was playing with his twin for their father’s memorial service in 1993.
“I thought, wow. If I can play that gig and get through it, I can play any gig there is. I knew performing and making music had to be part of my life from that day on.”
Shortly after George moved to Colorado, Nasca started another band, The Critters.
They couldn’t find a drummer, so George offered to play drums until they found someone, and then he would go back to hand percussion.
Well, they never found a drummer, and George never went back.
He bought a drum kit to play with The Critters.
“I really enjoyed it. It’s what my dad played. It started out of convenience, but I found I really enjoyed it. I live in the moment (when I play). When I’m singing and playing drums, that’s my bliss for sure.”
George added, in a stage whisper, “I mean, besides my family and my wife – but you know that.”
Eight months after moving to Colorado, George moved to Salida because a friend had an affordable rental.
He had a few different careers in Salida, one was owning a drum store in town called Cosmic Echo. Through the shop he met many local musicians, like Poppa J. He played percussion for him and would pick up other gigs. After nine months in the shop, he decided he’d rather play in bands than lead drum circles. He closed the shop.
He also worked as a real estate agent for seven years, or as he calls it, “pimping the Motherland.” George was able to help some of his siblings buy homes and sold the house across the street from his house to his mother. After she died, George’s brother Peter inherited it. George said he loves having his brother steps away.
In between the variety of careers, George mentored his nephew, David. He said that experience led him to his eventual career as a teacher.
He got his master’s in education from Adams State College in 2004.
The plan was to teach high school English. George’s first job was at South Park High School in 2004. Then he worked at Buena Vista High School for six or seven years before getting a job in Salida in 2012 at the middle school.
His first thought was, “Oh my gosh, I don’t even know what an 11-year-old looks like.”
But he quickly found he liked it.
“(To be a middle school teacher) you have to have a sense of humor, and you can’t take yourself too seriously. It’s refreshing to be around young people with so much energy. It’s a really fun age. They are still pretty excited about school and even more excited about connecting with their teacher.”
George said he believes teaching is a lot about building relationships.
“You can’t teach anything if you’re not connecting.”
He related the connection he tries to cultivate with his students to the connection he tries to share with people through his music performances.
“It’s the ability to, in the moment, share something with people that you can’t put into words. What I love about teaching and music is that you live in the moment.”
He did concede that getting to that place in both areas, takes a lot of practice.
George is a full-time musician in the summer. Last summer he played roughly 30 gigs, between his three bands. He is a drummer and vocalist in The Groove Farmers, Roundhouse Assembly and Mo’Champipple.
The Groove Farmers have been together the longest, seven years. But Nasca is also in Roundhouse Assembly, making him George’s longest running (occasional) bandmate. They’ve been playing together, on and off, since 1995.
George credited his wife, Andrea and their kids, Ruby, 11, and George, 9, for being so supportive of his gig-life.
“I really appreciate it because it does take me away from them.”
George said they often talk about starting a family band.
“We’ve got a set list. We just haven’t found time to rehearse.”
In February last year, “Team Mossman” performed together for the first time. They did a tap dance routine for Calliope’s Vaudeville show.
“I felt like I could’ve been struck by lightning right then and I’d be fine. Then I thought, oh no, how am I going to beat this? I’ve always wanted to be right here, doing this, what will I do next?”
What he did next was to be on the dream team that brought Salida’s Last Waltz to fruition last year. And they are doing it again Nov. 21 and 23 at the Salida SteamPlant.
George’s parting advice for budding musicians: “Play it all. Play everything, every genre, instrument, gig. Soak it all in.”