Born in Pittsburgh, PA, I spent my early childhood watching my uncles play music. I thought they were so cool, and I wanted to be just like them. They had me listening to some great music at such an early age.
I started piano lessons at age 6. I bought my first guitar at age 10. My uncles donated an old amp and electric guitar when I was eleven. It all snowballed from there.
By age 13, I was in a band that covered songs by Rush, King Crimson, Genesis and Yes. We were kind of outcasts because we spurned the mainstream pop/rock in favor of the “art rock”. I learned a lot during those early years.
In October 1984, Guitar Player magazine (to which I subscribed at the time) started including “flexi-disc” vinyl records with the magazine. The very first one was a song by Steve Vai called the “Attitude Song”. It was even transcribed in the magazine. I spent weeks learning that song, and even gouged a hole in my guitar because my “whammy-bar” wouldn’t pull up as far as Steve’s, and I needed to hit those notes. This started my quest to become a “shredder”.
I practiced and studied, and even went away to “guitar school”, where one of my teachers (Jimmy Herring) once said to me during an exam, “What are you doing here man? You should be out there playing.” Another (Paul Gilbert) said during a private jam session, “Finally, a guy who can play.”
I went on to play in a few bands (including Valhalla, Whichever God, Schmuck, The Willys, Some Odd Reason, Evick and Junkfood), putting my skills to good use.
Somewhere along the way though, I noticed something was missing. (It was probably when I looked out into the crowd and noticed there were mostly dudes watching). I could play fast, and emulate other people, but I wasn’t playing stuff that I wrote, and the songs I would write were simple 3 or 4 chord love songs. I realized that the majority of the people interested in what I was doing on the guitar were just people who wanted to be like me (and mostly dudes), and it really wasn’t a majority, it was more like a minority. I wanted people to hear the music I was writing (the love songs) but that was definitely the wrong audience.
I tried to turn it around, but I always got labelled “that guitar guy”.
I’m older now (ok, much older) and I guess I consider myself now more of a singer/songwriter. My guitar chops have faded a little, but that’s not really what matters to me. I really like telling a story with music.
I hope you enjoy my musical stories.
Well… now you are surrounded by non-dudes.