Saturday Night’s Alright

NACA teacher Mr. Geibel is the star of his own one-man band.

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photo by Matthew Little

Mr. Geibel’s music is a representation of his own personality.

Strobe lights, fog machines, electric guitars, and friends gather together in a small basement in Bellevue on a Saturday night– eating, drinking, and singing along to their favorite tunes performed by none other than NACA English teacher Mr. Greg Geibel.

Despite the cancellation of many concerts since last spring, Geibel has found creative ways to keep his music alive, whether via livestream or the socially distant downstairs at Grille 565. This one-man band has brought much joy and laughter back into the lives of many through the power of music.

Grille 565 is a local bar and grill located in Bellevue, doubling as an entertainment venue for local performers.  Geibel, who taught English and Yearbook at NAI for 25 years before signing on with NACA this year, has hosted many Saturday night shows, where family and friends can come together to enjoy snacks and live entertainment under one roof — complete with Geibel’s own stage lights and smoke machine.  He reports that he will soon be adding flamethrowers to his performer’s toolbox.

photo by Maddie Harris

Geibel’s interest in music began at a young age.

“My whole family is musical, so it was just part of living in the house,” he said. “My high school friends would come over and we would practice in the basement. I realize now how tolerant my parents were because we were so loud. They were saints.”

Geibel played many instruments throughout his years in school, but one in particular became his mainstay once he reached high school.

Greg Geibel

“In ninth grade, my friends and I wanted to start a rock band,” he said. “I convinced my parents that if they allowed me to buy a bass guitar, I’d continue to play the trombone. My friends and I started a band and played at school dances and local hang-out spots.”

Though the high school rock band went the way of most high school rock bands, Geibel’s group never went through the dramatic breakup that brings an end to most others.

“What’s cool is that I’m still friends with them and we have all continued to play in bands in one way or another,” Geibel said. “We still talk about the ‘good old days’ where it all started. My friends Brian and Mike have gone on to some pretty successful bands.”

All these years later, Geibel and his former bandmates remember certain shows in vivid detail.

“Our first gig in high school was at the Clearview Mall in Butler,” Geibel recalled. “It was ‘Education Week’  and we somehow got tapped to play in the middle of the mall. It was a disaster. My friend Brian never even had time to plug in his guitar, so the whole time he was just faking it.” 

After high school, Geibel enrolled at Penn State and, upon graduation, began his career in the English Department at NAI.  But he never let go entirely of his musical aspirations.

“I’ve been in other bands since then, but life makes it hard to stay involved with so many different life responsibilities,” he said. “I have found it easier to just be a solo guy.”

Thus, a new one-man-band was born — Greg Geibel Avalon.

“In a way, it started out of boredom,” Geibel said. “I was sitting around one day and thought how funny it would be if I had my own merch, and it started from there. I created the logo and realized the bottom area was empty, so I added my town, Avalon, to the bottom to fill the space. My wife just rolled her eyes and said, ‘But you’re nobody. Why would anybody buy a shirt?’ I said, ‘That’s what makes it funny. When you’re nobody, make ‘em think you’re somebody!’”

When you’re nobody, make ‘em think you’re somebody!”

— Mr. Geibel, NACA

Due to the pandemic, Geibel’s live performances came to a halt for a while, but he quickly found a way to keep up with his music and perform for an audience.

“When we first went into quarantine,” he said, “I did a Saturday night show every week from my garage and streamed it live on Facebook. It started out pretty simple, but then I kept adding something every week—lights, smoke machine, lasers. It started to get really involved. I did a sidewalk show in May when we were starting to come out of quarantine for a bit.”

Grille 565 has now reopened, following social distancing guidelines and the mask mandate, allowing Geibel to return to the stage. Gathered together with family and friends, Geibel said he performs “everything from Chris Stapleton to The Ramones” on his acoustic guitar. 

“I play what I like, and I think people enjoy the range of songs. Everything sounds good on an acoustic guitar,” he said.

For Geibel, ther stage has beckoned since high school, and his final show is nowhere in sight.

“It’s a lifelong hobby.  I’ll always be doing something with it somehow,” he said.