I came into consciousness bouncing on the couch for hours to "Meet the Beatles," "Calypso," "Mother Goose with a Beatle Beat," "Tonight: In Person The Limelighters," and many more.
After failed attempts at violin and trumpet and countless hours in my rocking chair listening to Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Rolling Stones,The Ramones, Sex Pistols, Clash, Television, Johnny Thunders, The Jam and much, much more, I started playing drums in college. That branched out to harmonica and guitar. I started writing so-called songs. Punk rock was a real catalyst. It was something I could understand. It was something that I could do.
Fresh out of college I got into my first band: Plate of Shrimp. I had just moved down to the Washington, DC Area. My friend, Ed Schuster, also a recent transplant from Western Pennsylvania, played drums. We had talked about putting something together. Then I met Dana Cann in the Mt. Pleasant section of DC. We both dug Jonathan Richman and hit it off. The three of us started practicing together. Soon we played gigs at places like DC Space, the Safari Club, Ft. Reno Park, The Grog and Tankard, The Back Alley Cafe and even the Electric Banana in Pittsburgh. Along the way, our name changed to something a more macho: the Stallones. (No one had gotten the "Repo Man" reference anyway.) Our rotating cast of bassists featured Rob Bayne, Joe Marencic, Luis Harris, and Jeff Cross. Unlike Spinal Tap no one spontaneously combusted. Dana's amp did catch fire at DC Space though--really!!!
Late childhood led to early adulthood and the band broke up. I spent years in the basement (and later upstairs) writing and recording. Some of the results can be heard here:
And here: Justice G-Men .
I performed very little.
Teaching and Music
I became a middle school teacher and my students became my new audience. We wrote songs together. I wrote songs (and created dances) for them such as
and played historical songs, especially those about the settling of the American West. My students inspired me too. One young man, Randy, was very interested in UFOs. His obsession caused me to write in this song:
As a teacher I sponsored a club called the Open Mic Club. I took it over when the original sponsor, Sarah Kane, left our school. I appreciated the genius idea but must admit that my first feeling was, "Oh, no! Another distraction from MY music!" Nothing could have been further from the truth! Though requiring of time and effort, sponsoring the club was an inspiration. First and foremost, it gave kids who weren't served by other school activities a chance to develop their talents and confidence. The side effect, though, was that I grew as a performer. I grew more confident and comfortable on stage as I helped others to do so.
Getting More Involved in the Richmond Music Scene
Another inspiration: my membership in the Virginia Organization of Composers and Lyricists (VOCAL). Associating with Richmond's best songwriters and performers helped me to grow musically.
I came to an important realization as I started to perform more. Performing makes me a better musician. I also started to appreciate the connection that music makes between people. My favorite venues in the Richmond area are farmers markets: St. Stephen's, Birdhouse, Manakin, and Carytown among them. I love to sing outside on a beautiful spring or summer morning or afternoon, the dappled sun shining through the green leaves of the trees, children toddling about or bouncing in their parents' arms, vendors cheerfully connecting with folks as they talk about their passion for farming, baking, cooking, brewing kombucha, or making their crafts. Sometimes there are llamas, rabbits, or chickens in the audience. (I have a particularly active chicken fan club. :-D).
Busking and My New Home: Rotterdam
Carrying the connection idea further, I developed a love for busking. I found deep satisfaction in standing out on the sidewalk and singing my songs. I watch the people walk by: families, friends out for a fun evening, couples on a date, individuals headed somewhere or nowhere, cars and motorcycles revving their engines, a man carrying a sign saying something about Confederate money and yelling at the top of his lungs (I couldn't compete with him. I would just strum when he passed :-D). I enjoy being on the same level as my audience, exchanging smiles, talking, making new friends. I somehow feel more a part of the world when I busk, like I'm doing my part in helping the world to go about its daily business. When I busk, I often look up at the sky and think about how lucky I am to get to do it. My favorite spot for busking in Richmond was in Carytown. I've brought my love for busking across the Atlantic and enjoy playing here in Rotterdam. I love watching the sunset while I play at the Rijnhaven, pictured at the left.
Getting Established in Holland
I've found that diversity is the key to musical success. Thus I'm playing in all sorts of situations here in Rotterdam. I sing in church two Sundays a month. Guy G. Gorman and the G-Men play mostly 50's style rock n roll. Niemand Minder plays the best of rock music from the 60's to present. I've been playing with some awesome musician friends, and I jam with folks at the Kreileroord Inloop in Isselmonde. We practice every Thursday and have a jam session the last Friday of every month. I also sing every Monday with the Varya Groep at the Kreileroord. I've started giving music lessons too. You can also catch me solo by the Rijnhaven or at local venues: the Oogsmarkt on Noordplein or Huis der Zotheid by the Oude Haven.