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Facilities staffers rock out in Artists Behind the Desk summer concert

Robert Cunkelman (left) and David Silverman of Facilities performed with the rock band O-Zone on the Stratton Student Center steps.
Robert Cunkelman (left) and David Silverman of Facilities performed with the rock band O-Zone on the Stratton Student Center steps.
Photo / Donna Coveney

O-Zone was a hit at high noon. The classic rock band led by Robert P. Cunkelman, a senior engineer in Facilities, played for an hour beneath a blazing sun in the second of the three-concert Artists Behind the Desk summer series on August 8.

Cunkelman, who has been at MIT for 16 years, is O-Zone's lead singer and guitarist. David J. Silverman, staff architect in Facilities, plays guitar and bongos. John Musacchio of Acton plays bass and guitar and Jerry Banks is on drums.

O-Zone, which also includes Musacchio's son, Jeff, on a new Ibanez bass, delivered songs by the Kinks, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Doors outside the Stratton Student Center. And they succeeded the way any rock band succeeds--by getting people in the audience to sing along, to participate in the music as if it were not a midday in the middle of a work week, but midnight in the middle of a terrific party. Their set included "Sympathy for the Devil" and "Mustang Sally" and "In the Midnight Hour" by Wilson Pickett.

O-Zone (its name is a tribute to the campus repair and maintenance zones) selected its set of upbeat rock classics with help from their MIT friends, said Cunkelman, whose personal favorites from the '60s and '70s are the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix.

"I circulated a long list among my workmates here and let them vote for their top 10. My favorite of the whole day was "Steppin' Stone," a minor hit for the Monkees. We slowed it down and made it 'heavier,' not quite Godsmack, but a little thicker," he said.

Of more recent music, Cunkelman said he enjoys the Stone Temple Pilots, Incubus, Dave Matthews and Eric Clapton's new CD "Reptile." His most exciting recent musical experience was "sitting in with the James Montgomery Band during a gig of theirs in Rhode Island, which was a big thrill for me."

Silverman listed the Doors, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton as his favorites among the elders of rock. Silverman, who designed and worked on MIT's Brad and Dorothea Endicott World Music Room, also enjoys world music, including African, reggae, Cuban and Indian genres. He works in an office next to Cunkelman's.

"My two newest discs are solo releases from Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro, both formerly of Jane's Addiction, one of my all-time favorite bands," Silverman said.


Cunkelman and Musacchio met when their children were in elementary school. Both live in Acton and are involved in music and in their local Boy Scout organization. Cunkelman's two sons play guitar and drums, while Musacchio's two sons both play bass. All four boys are in the same Scout troop.

"All in all, music is a great hobby to share with family and friends. For example, I just played with some people at a summer house party last weekend that happens once a year, and it's always a big treat to get that phone call," Cunkelman said.

While the two families play regularly for enjoyment, their lives do not revolve around practice. "When we put this MIT gig together, we used three rehearsals to work out arrangements and tighten things up," he said. "Thanks to Joyce Musacchio for letting us use her living room!"

The Artists Behind the Desk summer concerts began with Jama Jigi, performing traditional West African rhythms on July 25. It concluded on August 22 with a performance by Da Goods, a classic rock band featuring Don Anderson, a technician in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on August 29, 2001.

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