Two Houston High teachers are hitting all the right notes

There’s the all too common stereotype that teachers are boring, spend their afternoons and weekends grading papers, have no life outside of school, and don’t have fun. Well, two Houston High School teachers are putting that myth to rest. Houston teachers Jason Middlekauff and Candace Plaisance have their own band.

Their band, called “Short in the Sleeve” (named from a line in "Out of Time" by Jason Collett, a Canadian singer-songwriter: "When you're long in the tooth and short in the sleeve, there's nowhere left to hide.") started in 2007 with Middlekauff’s best friend and college bandmate, Chris Mirante. Kyle Reed, the bass player, has been in the band from its inception, and Kevin Jenkins, the band’s drummer, joined in 2008. Plaisance, their secret sauce vocal powerhouse, joined in 2014.

“Chris and I formed a band in college called Shoebox.  We laugh now that we should apologize to our friends who came to our shows back then. But nonetheless we didn't lack for enthusiasm. We loved writing songs, and we loved performing. I didn't take up the guitar until I graduated college. I wanted to continue writing songs, and with Chris a couple states away at the time, the only way I was going to be able to was by learning an instrument,” remarked Middlekauff when speaking on the uniqueness of his group.

When Middlekauff writes a song, he says he usually writes it with the band in mind. Some of their songs are spare acoustic tunes, but most have “oomph”, which he says is hard to come by with just a vocal and an acoustic guitar. Moreover, the other band members add facets to songs Middlekauff said he would never think of. “In other words, the songs reach their potential with the full band. Last of all, it's a genuine joy to play music with other people.”

Their new album, A Message Lost Down the Wire, has some up tempo toe-tappers, some spare ballads, and a couple quirkier tunes. It's easily the fullest, most polished recording Middlekauff says they’ve ever done. A lot of credit for that goes to Pete Matthews and Toby Vest, who co-engineered and mixed the album at their studio, High/Low Recording, and Leo Goff, who mastered it. Of the 11 songs, they’ve routinely played eight of them for at least a year in live shows.
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