2003   MARCH 18   #077

Hi Hopes - La Cucaracha

Before there was the Kids of Widney High, there was Hi Hopes.

I came across this album at a church rummage sale with my friend up in La Habra, California (near Los Angeles). What caught my attention was the album cover. It had a really trippy psychedelic look to it. I picked up the album to inspect it closer and found that it was done by a group of mentally handicapped kids from Anaheim, California. Not only that but the album was autographed by the members of the band. It was a steal at just fifty cents!

The band comes from Hope School located in Anaheim, California. Hope School opened in September of 1969 to "serve the trainable mentally retarded of the Anaheim Union High School District" according to the liner notes. The music department of Hope School was headed by Doris Walker, who accompanied the band on piano. She also wrote several original songs for the album ("Label", a song written by Miss Walker, was offered as an MP3 on Show and Tell Music). Other songs on the album are "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head", "Candy Man", and "Everything Is Beautiful". "La Cucaracha" stands out as my favorite as lead singer Paul Kuehn tries to pronounce some of the Spanish lyrics but the real star of the song is Art Medina, the "Spanish solo".

According to my research, Hi Hopes released a total of four albums. Their first one is made up of Credence Clearwater Revival covers and a cover of "Wipe Out" (the album is also on the Activity Record label). I couldn't find any info on the two other album.

Hi Hopes is still up and performing today with current students of Hope School. The local Shriners club sponsored a concert for them. While researching this album I came into contact with several past members of Hi Hopes who all had fond memories of playing in the band and of Doris Walker.

One member who I had the fortune of corresponding with on many occasions was Tim Baley, who has cerebral palsy. He was a pianist for Hi Hopes for several years and has not let his handicap get in the way of his dreams. He is a successful pianist in his hometown of Carson City, Nevada and has toured the country playing for many groups and he even sells his own original artwork at his performances. But sadly his father, who has supported him for many years, passed away. Tim said that his performance at his father's memorial service was his best. Tim would like to hear from you or anyone who has enjoyed Hi Hopes, he can be reached via his mother rosebaley@juno.com or visit his website http://www.timbaley.com. They're very nice and approachable people. I'm quitting the radio world to become an elementary school teacher and Tim was a great reference for me for my term paper on how music can help the mentally handicapped physically, mentally, and emotionally. So do drop him or me a line and say hello!

Be sure to visit the official Hi Hopes website to see what's up with the current Hope School (now it's Hope University) students. The website also offers current Hi Hopes music!

- Zeb Navarro

TT-2:05 / 2.4MB / 160kbps 44.1khz
from album "Hi Hopes" (Activity Records #AR696)

(The Hi Hopes Band. Image courtesy of Zeb Navarro)