I took my first guitar lessons at eight years old in Oxford, Mississippi. My father wanted me to be Johnny Cash and my teacher wanted me to be Chet Atkins. I would have preferred to be one of the Beatles. At ten, when the family was stationed at Ft. Bragg, I took lessons with Dave Brumble, himself a student of the great Andre Segovia. Dave had me learning everything from surf tunes to easy jazz standards. I lost interest in playing during my adolescence . . . distracted by sports, as well as by a move to Alaska. Music was still a passion during this time, listening voraciously and building a large collection of LPs in rock, blues, jazz, classical and world musics.
Soon after high school, I played my first electric guitar and bought it on the spot. Soon after that, I bought a used Martin copy and have been playing ever since.
My freshman year of college in Mississippi, I took a music appreciation course as a part of a general curriculum . . . it looked like an easy A. I moved back to Alaska and spent the next few years taking odd jobs to afford whatever music courses caught my attention: theory, jazz theory, arranging, 20th century composition classes and private study . . . all the while woodshedding fingerstyle blues and folk, and making the first attempts at playing in bands.
In the summer of 1983, went back to Mississippi with the intention of getting a degree and going to Musicians Institute the next fall. When it became apparent that a degree would take longer, I dumped the extraneous courses and took a full load of music, studying music history, counterpoint, arranging and advanced harmonic technique . . . anything, as long as it was music. During this time, there were a couple short-lived RnB/rock bands and the first few public performances.
Musicians Institute 1984-85: one year of comprehensive guitar study with some of the world’s best players: studied rock and jazz fusion.
1986-92: Played in a series of rock, RnB, and top40 bands, travelling the state of Alaska from Homer to Nome.
1991-95: taught guitar privately.
1995-98: Began playing solo acoustic at local watering holes, mostly popular rock tunes . . . strummin’, n’ hummin’. At this time, I started adding old blues and British folk tunes, especially the music of John Renbourn, to the sets. Living at the Java Joint at this time, I did the bookings, began playing festivals, and by 1997 was opening shows for bluesman John Hammond and comic Howie Mandel among many others. Also at this time, I collected a wide variety of fingerstyle intrumentals, classical, jazz, celtic and others to play at private dinners and other social functions. Adding Christmas tunes made this a popular seasonal set.
The last few years have been spent expanding and refining my fingerstyle abilities, including studies with Renbourn and Duck Baker. I began touring the west coast, with performances in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah and Nevada, and had the great pleasure of playing for my first national radio audience on West Coast – Live.
More recently, I’ve been writing and arranging tunes for a CD, putting together the Alaska Guitar Concert Series and teaching workshops.