Musical tribute remembers club owner

Rock music and a spirit of caring for others filled the Underground Railroad nightclub at 123 Pleasant St. in Morgantown from 1982-88.

Then, in April 1988, the club’s energetic and nurturing owner Marsha Ferber mysteriously disappeared and apparently has not been heard from since by family and friends.

This weekend, a reunion/tribute is being held for the Underground Railroad and Ferber in Morgantown. Several musicians from Parkersburg who performed at the Underground Railroad in the 1980s will be participating with other bands in a weekend of music and reminiscing about UR as a music landmark in Morgantown and the positive effect Ferber had on others.

Scheduled to perform tonight at the 123 Pleasant St. club, the former location of the Underground Railroad, are former Parkersburg bands The Larries and 63 Eyes. The Larries band members are Mark Poole, Wesley Poole, Jimmy Clinton and Todd Burge. The Pooles and Burge also are members of 63 Eyes.

Proceeds will go to the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in Charleston and West Virginia projects of the Appalachian Community Fund.

Burge of Parkersburg has happy memories of playing music at the Underground Railroad and associating with Ferber in the 1980s while a student at West Virginia University.

“Marsha encouraged me to go on tour,” Burge said. “She cared about people and the community and encouraged artists. Marsha was like a mother to many of the Morgantown bands.”

Ferber later opened the Dry House next to the Underground Railroad where youth could listen to nationally known bands in an alcohol-free environment.

Mark Poole, who grew up in Parkersburg and now lives in Morgantown, remembers Ferber as being a “super nice” person who gave younger kids a safe place to go by opening the Dry House.

Poole recalls Morgantown provided lots of opportunities for young musicians in the 1980s – at least in part through Ferber’s efforts. The Underground Railroad, which remained open for a year after Ferber’s disappearance, offered an outlet for original music and had a good sound system, he said.

Poole said he is excited about playing music again at the UR and talking to people he hasn’t seen in 20 years.

Wesley Poole of Vienna said it will be interesting to talk to fellow musicians who performed at the Underground Railroad in the 1980s. Musicians who played at the UR helped each other, creating a “nurturing family of creativity,” Poole said.

The Facebook page for the Underground Railroad reunion and Marsha Ferber tribute states the weekend event “shows how much she (Ferber) meant to so many and how she is missed.”

Ferber’s spirit lives on, Burge said.

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Roger Crowley’s hole-in-one on the par 3 16th hole at Worthington Golf Course last Friday proved to be the difference for the Class of 1958 as it won the sixth annual Parkersburg Area School Boy Golf Challenge.

The 1958 team – Parkersburg Catholic High School graduates Crowley and Dick Wildt and Parkersburg High School graduates Buzzie Dils and John Pfalzgraf – shot 13-under par to defeat the Class of 1968 team – Henry Trout, Barry Louden, Jim Murphy and Tom Davies – by one stroke.

The golfers were graduates of PHS or PCHS from 1955-75. Tournament spokesman Tom Longmire, from the PHS Class of 1963, said plans call for teams from the classes of 1976-80 to be added next year. Crowley’s hole-in-one was the first ever at the school boy challenge, which raises money for local schools.

Proceeds this year are going to the Stadium Field reconstruction project, the Parkersburg Catholic High School athletic department in honor of Bob Jones and the Sam Mandich Scholarship Fund through the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation in honor of Steve Daugherty.

A steak dinner at Dils Riverfront Park in Vienna followed the golf outing.

Contact Paul LaPann at plapann@newsandsentinel.com