When I was little I wanted to be drummer like Ringo. With my parents’ help at a local baby parade, including the borrowing of some friend’s wigs, I got to play Ringo while my sisters and a neighbor played John, Paul, and George. Years later I learned to keep a basic rock or jazz beat on a drum kit but never tried to pass myself off as a real drummer.
In my teens and twenties my goal was to eventually be the lead guitarist of a successful loud rock band. You can read about my limited success and follow links to recordings in Me as 80s New York lead guitarist.
I had always listened to a lot of jazz and played a bit of electric bass. When we moved from New York City to Charlottesville in 2003 I got an upright bass, started taking lessons from Pete Spaar, and eventually became a regular in the local minor league jazz scene. The longest regular gig was playing with Fellini’s Jazz Collective #9 every Mondays (eventually, Wednesdays) at Fellini’s Italian Restaurant in Charlottesville for several years. I also played for a bit with Acme Swing and various one-offs with friends.
You can also hear me playing with Haywood Giles in the background to this XML Summer School in Oxford 2009 video.
I may have worked on my bowing and reading a little more than other jazz bass players at my level, but it never occurred to me that I was qualified to play in a symphony orchestra until a friend convinced me that the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra was desperate enough for bass players that they would take me. They did, and I played with them from 2011 - 2017. This included Beethoven’s 9th and 5th symphonies, which are a real thrill to play.
After I got involved in the Charlottesville jazz scene I started writing some jazz tunes. When I accumulated enough for an album I picked out some friends to rehearse it, picked a cool name for the band, and recorded an album of the songs. You can read about it at Album “Gin & Heptatonic” by my band The Heptatonic Jazz Quintet and follow links to the album on Spotify, Apple Music, and all the big streaming services on heptatonic.com.
For 20 or so years I had thought it would be great to be in a string quartet, and the viola is such a cool instrument (as cool as John Cale and Jonny Greenwood), so I borrowed one and started lessons in 2017. I knew it would be a while before I was ready for the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra’s viola section, so I played with the Crozet Community Orchestra for a few concerts until the WSO’s announcement that they were doing Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite convinced me to jump into the deep end of that pool. I certainly faked parts of it, but overall it was a lot of fun and I have continued to play in their viola section. I’ve also been getting together with friends from those two orchestras to try out some string quartet and quintet pieces.