From where came Tintern?

Before Tintern was a man, Tintern Abbey was a band.

It all started in 1992, during our senior year of high school at Cathedral. This was the era of MTV and 120 Minutes. Jason played bass, Sean was on guitar, Marc had the drums, and I sang and played some guitar. We always practiced in Marc’s basement, as his Neil Peart-inspired drum set wasn’t easily moved.

I think Jason proposed the name “Tintern Abbey”, while flipping through our English textbook. The Wordsworth poem, “Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey”, was part of our curriculum. The poem was accompanied by an image of the abbey, its structure consumed by nature. The scenery and words spoke to us; particularly to Jason.

Tintern Abbey had a short life, but our first performance was memorable.

Cathedral decided that they would let a couple of student bands perform in front of the whole school, just before the end of the year. This was a big deal for that relatively conservative institution. Tintern Abbey and Julie Sunflower. We played first.

We knew three songs. We started with Louie, Louie followed by Wild Thing. Rock & Roll standards. Three chords each. Basically the same song, played twice. Things were going well.

Then we started playing Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Did I mention that this was a lunchtime performance? The entire student body of Cathedral High School – well over a thousand kids – had bagged lunches. With oranges.

I wasn’t a great singer, but I was an even worse guitar player. As I started the solo to Smells Like Teen Spirit, the oranges started flying.

We all kept playing. All except Jason, who unstrapped his guitar, held it by its neck, and started batting oranges back towards the crowd. Smells like teen spirit, indeed!

Tintern Abbey played twice more, focusing more on originals than covers. There was a summer student retreat near Springfield (sadly, I can’t remember its name), and we performed in their talent show in the summers of 1992 and 1993. Marc bowed out after high school, with Chris doing most of the drumming. Jeff would sometimes play keyboards, and Beth occasionally sang.

Jason and I went to WPI together, and were roommates during our first year. One of the rituals at WPI at that time was signing up for an email address and Unix login account. On our first day on campus, Jason and I walked down to the CCC, filled out index card-sized forms, and received our accounts. I was, he was

As you can probably tell from our choices, Jason was far more “Internet savvy” than me - he had attended the WPI Frontiers program the previous summer and knew better than to use his name as his login. From that day forward, Jason was tintern.

Tintern Abbey only saw three performances, but “Tintern” saw many more. He would love the fact that he is being celebrated in music by those close to him, as tintern.