Since I see myself as a singer more than I do a “player” this becomes a two-pronged answer for me.
The Singer: Somewhere is a photo of me at about age 5 in a wonderful coonskin cap singing Davey, Davey Crocket (King of the Wild Frontier). My passion for singing probably came from standing next to my paternal grandmother in church each Sunday. I can occasionally hear her perfect alto harmonies in my head when I’m singing. In 7th grade I auditioned and made the Lincoln Boys Choir along with my friends Jim Gogela and Randy Dotson. It was during these years that I learned to hear harmonies and my love for singing grew and grew. Jon Peterson at East High helped me discover a critical ear and lead to me becoming a short-lived voice major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. But…. Probably the single most influential experience in my life was being a part of Christ Temple Church back in the 70s. I got to witness and be a part of a type of music I’d never imagined before – it was liberating!!!
Getting to sing with the Wheezetones has been one of the best experiences of my life. I LOVE being a part of the mix.
The Guitar Player: My first guitar was a rental from Walt’s Music that came with 6 or 8 weeks of lessons. I think I was 9 or 10. It was a bust. A couple years later because of a life change (see below) I took my tip money from a paper route and bought my first guitar. Probably a Harmony Sovereign – or Kaye (Can’t remember)
Why did you first start playing?
In the summer of 1965 my dad died suddenly – and I was floundering, looking for a place that felt safe. Around that time, my older sister had a boyfriend who was hanging around, Craig, who was playing guitar, a family friend Steve was playing, and my friend “Johnny” Ballew was appearing on the Wayne West Juvenile Hour TV Show. All three of these people epitomized the essence of “cool” to me – and being a boy who had just lost his dad – I needed someplace to “land” that made me feel better about myself. My neighborhood friend Randy and I started playing guitars together – and I recall that our (my) very first public performance was in the basement “social hall” of his church. We did a duo of “Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley” – with me doing harmonies. I remember writing my first song in Junior High – a secret love song for the girl down the street. The song was totally AWFUL! (And the girl down the street never got to hear it – thank God!)
During the formative years of my singing I listened to folk music and R&B. As a suburban boy in Nebraska it was easier to play and connect with Peter, Paul & Mary, John Denver, Dan Fogelberg and the like – but my real love was the Four Tops, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and anybody doing great harmonies and steps. (MOTOWN!!!!!!) Thanks to Jimmy Gogela’s older brothers who were playing this stuff mostly at his Capitol Beach home.
First Album Purchased:
I’m really not sure – but it may have been either a Bill Cosby comedy album – or The Association. Let’s just say it was The Association to save embarrassment.
What bands have you played with?
As mentioned, in Jr. High and High School I was playing my guitar fairly often with my friend Randy – and we added a 3rd voice Kathy G. to do some Peter, Paul and Mary music. We played at least one talent show at East High.
In the early 70s I was working at Westminster Presbyterian Church, getting to be friends with Rob Palmer and few other guys. We started a sarcastic gospel band called “The Good Gnus”. We really didn’t play gospel music – but that’s what we called ourselves. It was from there that the band Fragile evolved. This band included Rob Palmer, Kevin Moore (Soul Dawg), Rick Hamann, Chuck McCracken and in the early days, Craig Lowe on guitar. Later Kent Hamilton replaced Craig. We played Little Bo’s and the Royal Grove – and had a great time. I moved to Colorado in the late 70s and Fragile went on to become Keystone and traveled the Midwest.
I moved back from Colorado and did duo work with Kevin Moore as BD Roads and also did a lot of single shows at places like Reubens, The Boars Head, Cornhusker, The Open Latch – it was a GREAT era for singles and duos.
I took an extended break when my daughter was born – and didn’t play other than church until I ran into John Ballew at our 20th High School reunion – and the rest is known
What is your best gig horror story- remembering of course, that it’s family friendly.
I played in a duo in the early 70s with Pam Garrett. We did a lot of Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Carpenter music for her voice and some Dan Fogelburg, America, John Denver stuff for me. We played at The Boars Head and were set up to do a short summer tour to a couple places. One of the stops was Casper Wyoming. Unknown to us was this was more of a local “biker bar” than the lounges we had been playing. We played 1 night – and I had a pizza “accidentally” thrown my way and hit my classical guitar. I remember having chunks of cheese falling out of it for months. The club owner apologized profusely and gave us a check for a couple extra nights and asked us to leave and not finish out the week.
What gear are you using?
6-String Acoustic: I am lucky enough to be able to play a guitar I built back in May 2008. This, and another guitar were built by my son and me, and the experience has lead us to building guitars as a hobby/business. (www.burnerguitars.com). The guitar has a Sitka Spruce top and Amazon rosewood sides and back. The pickup is a LR Baggs LB6 run through a LR Baggs Para DI.
12-String Acoustic: Taylor Summer Strummer (655CE). Expression System pickup run direct to the mixing board.
Electric Setup: Ibanez AS103 semi-hollowbody through a Vox Valvetronix VT15 Amp. No effects pedals.
Stage Monitors: JBL PRX612M
Loggins and Messina – Sitting In Again Tour – Stir Cover 2008.
Earth Wind and Fire –2009 I think.
Billy Joel (early years) opening for Melissa Manchester
Most Disappointing Concerts:
Crosby Stills & Nash – Stir Cove – 2008? (less than 1 hour???)
Jackson Browne – ages ago at the Devaney Center (boring!)