Former UCSB lecturer Doug Folsom had daydreamed of partying like a rock star since he was a kid – but unlike most faculty members, he eventually decided to trade grades for groupies.
Folsom, a former College of Creative Studies physics lecturer, left his job at UCSB last year to join a rock band. Yesterday, he returned to Santa Barbara, not only to perform, but also to help his old students with their homework.
After working for three years at the university, Folsom left in October 2006 to assume the position of lead vocalist and bassist in the band Echoburn.
The band, a self-described “powerful new rock four-piece” based in Harrisburg, Penn., was touring clubs in the northeastern United States for seven months before arriving in downtown SB last night to perform at the popular club SOhO.
The band, which thus far has established itself as a classic rock cover band, is planning to release an album within the next two months.
Folsom said his life-altering decision to pursue a career as a musician arose from a childhood fantasy that he decided to pursue when his brother Greg offered him a position in his band.
“It was always a dream of mine,” Folsom said. “My older brother called me up with an opportunity when a member of his band left and I jumped on it. We had been playing together since we were young and it was our childhood dream to play in a band together.”
Folsom returned to Santa Barbara to do more that just perform, holding office hours on campus to visit his former students and assist them with their schoolwork.
“I set up office hours in the College of Creative Studies and helped some old students with their physics homework,” Folsom said. “They definitely had an opportunity to bounce some questions off me.”
Sean Haney, a former student of Folsom’s, was among approximately 15 others who attended the office hours yesterday. Haney said he thought Folsom was an impressive instructor.
“He was a lecturer for the CCS physics series and was scheduled to teach the entire thing, but then he left to play in his band,” Haney, a second-year CCS physics major, said. “He was a phenomenal teacher and he came back [to UCSB] and worked with us on quantum physics; it was extremely helpful.”
Haney said the absence of his former instructor was saddening, but that he and his classmates were supportive of Folsom’s decision to follow his passion.
“When he sent us all an e-mail over the summer explaining that he was leaving, it was really devastating,” Haney said. “It was a really depressing day for all of us to lose such an amazing teacher, but we are happy that he is pursuing his dream.”
As for the future, Folsom said he would consider returning to his former profession one day, but in the meantime, he is simply enjoying the journey.
“[Playing in a band] is not something I can do forever, but it is really exciting always being in different towns and seeing different faces,” Folsom said. “It is an incredible way to make a living. I would definitely consider going back to education, but I am going to ride this train as long as it goes.”