The latest things in my musical life are:
- getting into playing jazz and bop on the pedal steel, working with Brian Delaney (most recently of Royal Garden Trio fame)
- my 5 year old lovely, shiny, jet black, polished aluminum, woven carbon fiber-bodied,
titanium rodded, high-tech marvel of a pedal steel guitar. Built
it's the Millennium. My first new steel purchase in 23 years and
my first new pedal steel ever. Very nice. See
Interests in music should be eclectic. Mine could be moreso, but here's the
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
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
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
Try out some of these links: