Musical Autobiography

The latest things in my musical life are:

Interests in music should be eclectic. Mine could be moreso, but here's the history.

My early days had me listening to my dad's record collection ranging from Jamaican Steel Band music to Swing and Big Band. Then came my interest in the Beatles, Jimi, Cream, Dead (back when they were a band and not a cult), Doors, Jefferson Airplane, and so on. My brother introduced me to Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Cisco Houston and when I was in high school, picked up some simple guitar. Listening to Pete Seeger, got me interested in the banjo. If it weren't for Pete Seeger, I probably wouldn't be a musician. I practiced my frailing. Then I listened to Earl Scruggs and got hooked on Bluegrass. Lots of bluegrass banjo practice. From there it was a bit of a stretch to the country music of the 1970s. Merle, George, Dolly, Loretta, Tanya, but also Jerry Reed, Johnny Gimble, Buddy Emmons, Hal Rugg, Weldon Myrick. Even the likes of Ronny Milsap, Micky Gilley, and so on. As far as these latter ones go, it was more a matter of listening to arrangements, pedal steelists, electric guitarists that played on the records. Also in high school were the all times spent listening to some not quite "peggable" music like Commander Cody. Bobby Black's steel, and even Jerry Garcia's steel with the Riders, added to my fantasy of one day playing the steel.

Got to college (Rutgers University in "lovely" New Brunswick, New Jersey) where I soon met up with Peter Anick, now playing with WayStation and the father of Jason Anick (destined for fame) and Steve Brown. The band Once Over Lightly played ragtime and blues. Steve Brown, a great harmonica player... where is he now? Peter was and is a great musician, and it was an honor to learn, hang out and play music with him. I played banjo. We had great arrangements of tunes like the San Francisco Bay Blues, Rock Island Line, many straight ragtime tunes, and even a few originals. Ragtime guitar, harmonica and banjo or dobro.

Peter and I were in some other groups (who could forget, or wouldn't want to The Other Ten Percent, The Raritan Mud Stompers, The Anonymous Arts Recovery Society ?), but when we met Kathy DeAngelo, we knew we were there. Kathy ran the famous Mine Street Coffeehouse (back when it was still on Mine Street!) and was the music director for the first New Jersey Folk Festival held every year on the Douglas Campus in New Brunswick, NJ. Kathy soon had us playing standards, country, folk, Irish music. Never a problem for me since I loved (and still love) the old standards, swing music, Celtic, country, etc.

One day at a party, we met someone who said, "You like Swing? You like country? Have you ever heard of Bob Wills?" Talk about revelations. Just a handful of notes from an old Bob Wills tune and off we went on a journey from which we never returned.

The group Kathy D and the Lentil Soup Boys was born. Great times those. Playing at folk festivals, playing in the parking lots and post-festival parties of those folk festivals. Gigs here, gigs there. Nearly every get together was an excuse to play and playing was an excuse to get together. By this time, I was playing banjo, some guitar, some mandolin, but mostly dobro and some old electric hollow-body guitar of Peter's turned on its back, nut raised, and played like an electric lap steel. Whoa. Later, in 1975 came my first pedal steel guitar, the instrument I knew I was destined to play since way back in my Long Island High School country-music-listening days.

These days were filled with music. We helped run the Tuesday night concerts at the Rutgers Student Union (meeting Roy Bookbinder, Doris Abrams, Utah Phillips, Rosalie Sorrels, Leon Redbone, John Hartford, ...). We played every chance we got. Listened and learned from the records of Django Reinhart, Buddy Emmons, Bill Monroe, Tony Trishka, Stephane Grappelli, ....

Off I went to grad school in what was still a reasonably hip Ann Arbor, Michigan where I met up with Mike Smith and the Country Volunteers. I hooked up with these guys and was asked to play along. Still going after 30 years for me (and, remember, I joined up with them already in progress!) More country swing, country, some 50's rock, some folk, etc. For all the info on this on-going phenomenon, check the Cadillac Cowboys web site.

A few years ago, I also played steel with Corndaddy, an alt-Country/Americana/Roots/Pop band.

In 2003, a gift of a tenor saxophone led me back into the world of single-note instruments. Fun, but I'm wondering if I have the time for steel and sax....

In 2002, a new pedal steel guitar. The MSA Millennium.

Try out some of these links: