When I was 9 years old, I remember sitting in a cold hard plastic chair inside a frigid shopping mall during the winter of Chicago, IL. There were about a hundred other 9 year old kids sitting around me in our school orchestra. I was in the woodwind section playing my black wooden clarinet. My younger brother Tim was in the percussion section playing the snare drum. My parents, grandparents, and other brother and sister were there too.
We were all just kids learning our instruments, and we probably sounded awful, lots of squeaking, wrong notes, coming in too soon or too late, basically a train wreck. But when all of us played together, and we got it right occasionally, it was the most beautiful sound I had even heard. Melodies, and counter melodies weaving in and out, call and response from different sections, and everyone creating harmony together was the MOST BEAUTIFUL sound and experience I’ve ever had. My favorite were the sections of the song (classical) when everyone would hold their different/specific note together to create harmony, usually swelling in volume to an emotinally-powerful ending. That moment penetrated down to my core, and had a profound affect on my young heart and mind as an artist. That was the moment I knew I was going to be a musician for the rest of my life. Yep we were terrible, and parents clapped and told us we were great because they loved us…lol. But to me I found my life’s mission and my ultimate passion.
I was bullied a lot in grade school and in high school too. I wasn’t a popular kid. I had coke bottle glasses, a bowl haircut, silver braces and headgear for my terrible overbite. I got picked on and bullied a lot because I was so small for my age and looked so different. I remember sticking my head in my locker to cry until the bell rang while all the kids walked away to their class. Needless to say, I was always late to class and usually got detention because of it. The teachers thought I was a bad kid, but I was just protecting myself. I was misunderstood for sure. My freshman and sophomore year of high school I was learning guitar and quietly playing in a Band that our youth leader at Church formed. I played lead guitar, my brother Tim was on drums, and my friend Jason was on Bass. Andrew (youth leader) wrote the songs and sang. We rehearsed in the church basement a few times a week for about 2 years so we were starting to sound kinda decent. Something beautiful happened my Junior year of high school, our school had a Battle of the Bands. Jason entered our band, and we got to play in our school gymnasium in front of the whole school, so all the kids and teachers that weren’t so nice to me suddenly became nicer to me. It was the weirdest experience ever. Everyone looked at me differently, and stopped picking on me (as much) which was a relief.
Around 16-17 yrs old I started writing my own original songs, and playing them at local coffee shops. People started asking if I had CDs they could buy, but being so naive I didn’t have any. So the next day I found a local studio and took my acoustic guitar and recorded 10 songs in 2 hours (the engineer changed per 2 hours) so I had to nail each song in 1 or 2 takes like how my idol Ray Charles does it. It was an unforgettable experience for me as a totally naive baby artist, making my first record in a studio vs a tape recorder in my bedroom. The next weekend I performed at the same coffee shop and sold almost 50 CDs and realized I could make a living as an Artist. Thats when I quit my crappy weekend job at the mall in a mens clothing store. That job sucked…lol. The pay sucked too. Plus I’m a terrible dresser so I’m the last guy you want to ask how to put an outfit together.
I’m a late bloomer in every way, so in College I finally mustered up the courage to ask a girl out on a date. Dating added so much inspiration to my songwriting craft. So I wrote more songs and played more coffee house gigs and taught guitar lessons during summer break so I was starting to live the life of a musician.
After College I moved to Los Angeles. Thats where things began to build. I got signed to 2 different world class Managers, a booking agent, and Toured all over the US (over 300 Colleges). I’ve been a full time working musician since 2002, and I’m grateful for how much Ive learned along the way. I’ve had some wonderful moments like playing to a crowd of 15,000 people and some extremely painful moments like losing my manager to a heroine overdose, losing my record deal, and losing my booking agent (all because the Manager died). So there are definitely ups and downs in this business. But I’m in this for the long haul, so I’m not giving up. I’ll keep writing, recording, and performing music, for myself, and for YOU.
Currently, I’m writing and enjoying life as a touring artist, still doing colleges, summer concerts and lots of charity work playing music for disabled-special needs kids in childrens hospitals all over Los Angeles with an org called The Art Of Elysium. It fills my heart and proves to me that music has a healing affect on all of us.
But perhaps even more importantly than everything I’ve just mentioned, it’s YOU, the listener, that makes all of this matter.
I look forward to many more sometimes-hard, sometimes-lonely, always-meaningful experiences along this musical journey. Here’s to hoping that you are part of that journey.
If you’d like to hear the most recent milestone of that journey, click here to listen to my most recent album, “Firefly”.
Thank you for being a listener and for making it all matter.