I was raised in a musical middle-class working family and came of age during the popular music explosion of the late Nineteen Sixties and Seventies. My father taught literature, poetry and languages in my high school and my mother played piano and sang at home. I remember singing folk songs like “Red River Valley”, “Molly Malone” and “Joe Hill” from the Fireside Book of Folk Songs while gathered around the piano with my mom, dad, brothers and sister. While we were still kids, my Dad built a home “Hi-Fi” record player and my parents listened to opera, Frank Sinatra, Nat “King” Cole, Tony Bennett and Broadway musicals on it on nights and weekends. As children, we were encouraged to sing (and in my case, write poetry), and we were required to take up a musical instrument of our own choosing to play in the school band or orchestra.
I recall hearing the Everly Brothers, Elvis, Marty Robbins, Ray Charles, Little Richard and so many more artists on the radio at home and around our neighborhood during my early grade school years. Looking back on it, I’m amazed at the diversity of the musical genres we could hear all over the radio dial. Of course, in 1963 here came The Beatles, and we were floored! The impact of the quality of their songs, their singing, production and instrumentation was huge and felt personal in a way that music had never felt before. We used to “play Beatles” at home by lining-up and mimicking them in the living room until Mom made us stop for dinner. In our house, we all wanted to be John Lennon, but we loved all of them, and I especially admired George Harrison.
I’ve played in bands and written and recorded songs my whole life. I played my Dad’s nylon-string Guild guitar to get started in the 6th grade and my first performing group was in the 9th grade playing for parties. I played and sang during my college years with my brothers and friends, forming a group with my brother Jim and our best friends Doug Wolf and Clark Freschi. We played original music we’d written along with “cover” tunes so we could play parties and night-clubs. We worked the clubs and got great coaching from Jim’s professional musician friends who were playing and recording in the San Francisco Bay area at the time. This kind of help set a high standard for the work we produced that I’ve tried to meet ever since. Jim has gone on to become a successful professional musician in California and has always been an inspiration to me. I played guitar and sang with him in our bands and I still love doing it today.
I feel very lucky to have been exposed to such a variety of high-quality musical talent in my life, including my wonderful friend Adam Puchalski, whom I met while working in Bellevue, WA. The son of Igon Puchalski, the well-known Seattle-area pianist, Adam is a gifted guitarist and can play almost any stringed instrument well. Adam plays, composes, engineers and produces like the professional he is and I owe him a great deal in helping me continue my interest and career. I’m thankful for all of the musical friends I’ve known and for all of the truly great music I heard. I try to bring that great music to every show.