You may know him better as Mr. Monti, science teacher, sponsor of the Eco-Club, chess team, and former coach at Riverside-Brookfield High School, but he is also known as “Surly Dave” of Surly Dave and the Wallabies.
If that sounds like the name of a band, that’s because it is. To see how one man is able to indulge his love of music and science, we go back to his childhood.
A Brookfield resident, Dave Monti says that music was always a part of his life whether listening to it or playing an instrument. In grade school that meant playing the cello and piano.
He didn’t play while in high school, but as a college junior he picked up an acoustic guitar and taught himself to play it. He was influenced by some of the best, including Eric Clapton, and has written music since he was a pre-teen. He wrote his first song at age 11, following the death of his sister.
Surly Dave and the Wallabies formed as Monti began playing weekly with former students Frankie Monacella and Jason Gelband and his neighbor, who’s known as Fast Eddie S.
The name of the band? That happened when Monti’s wife, Brenda, asked him a question to which he replied in a surly manner. The name Surly Dave (he really isn’t) stuck, and the band members were named the wallabies after the peaceful animal.
In the fall of 2015 the band released its first CD, “Available” which also features Monti’s two children, 16-year-old Aaron on drums and 14-year-old daughter Alyssa on the saxophone. The CD, which features original songs, was recorded at Monti’s home with the help of a professional engineer.
The teacher/songwriter/musician says he has four new songs in the works, which could lead to another CD.
Monti’s life includes many of his favorite things family, teaching, science, animals, music, traveling and being Surly Dave. Oh did I mention he also has a collection of guitar picks? Add that to his list.
To learn more about Surly Dave and the Wallabies or how to purchase a copy of the CD go to sdatw.weebly.com/about.html.
Sometimes students only see their teachers only as their teachers and not as people with interests and hobbies; sometimes they can be surprised.