4. Was there a significant turning point in your affinity for or relationship with music, e.g. attending a concert, hearing a specific album, etc.
Truthfully, I’m not sure how to answer that question, because I have loved music since I was a little boy. It was always there and I loved clapping, skipping, humming and making up melodies. A weird event did happen though, when I was a little boy I remember hearing about the musical called Camelot and I was out singing and humming what I thought it would sound like. I never saw the movie in the theater, but many years later my friend and I rented the movie and the exact thing that I hummed was the exact music (that was kind of freaky, and I don’t mean to say there is anything, you know well whatever, but it happened and it was interesting.) I always knew I wanted to be involved with music for my life career, but sometimes the thing you love the most scares you most. I do have performance anxiety or stage fright real bad. As I get older it’s getting a little better.
There are a lot of moments of inspiration, rock bands that I loved growing up were either progressive in nature (they had a “classical” or were more musically complex, even though my music is not that way, I love instrumentation that takes me on a journey, or the band has to have some deep song with meaning, not just “love ya baby” commercial radio, nothing wrong with that, just wasn’t my thing) I feel the first album I ever heard that had a major impact on my life was Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells and when I heard it was an overnight platinum hit and all the instruments and tracks he played that blew my mind, I really wanted it, making music my life. That being said I have so many points of inspiration from concerts to artists that if I was to name them all it could be a book. I supported every band, I was a one-person promotor/street team for the bands I loved and I got all my friends to buy the albums I loved ☺ Not bad for an introvert.
5. How long did you try to make it with your band? What kind of music did you play and what instrument did you play in the band? Did you play mostly local gigs? Why did you give it up and go back to college?
How long did I try and make it with my band, about 8 years, back when I was starting, it was around 1978 or so and there were no independent musicians or independent CD’s a big way or only way was a major record deal. I spent a lot of time in the studio and my band recorded a lot on weekends. We did not have a following and we did not play any gigs. We were a little bit of everyone, a little bit like RUSH, a little bit like Genesis, a little bit like you name it and we were kind of it. We cut about 4 or 5 songs for the demo and put together the packages with our bios and everything and we either got rejection notices or no notice at all. My instrument was keyboards and piano.
Well, I was also a Lab Manager/Assistant Store Manager for a Ritz Camera One Hour Photo. Even though I had a “title” the money was terrible and I saw my future with no education. I didn’t like what I was seeing and the music was not moving forward, so I took a year to learn to be a PC technician and got all A’s. I actually loved it and the reason why I did it was to become what they called a TSM or technical supervising manager at Ritz camera (that’s like the lab version of a district manager). I was there for about 10 years. I really enjoyed Ritz and helping people with their photos. I was a really good Lab Manager (not from ego, but I was confident in what I did, but I saw nothing happening there). I wanted the TSM position, every tech I trained became a manager (they would take my people and promote them all the time, I loved to learn and teach, not bad for an introvert again) My lab won constant best color in the district and tired managers who wanted to give up and just be lab techs would come back to my lab. Anyway, I thought that it was time for my whole life to move on and because I did so well in my PC technician classes I decided I wanted to learn how to design computer chips. I got into Drexel part time and worked during the day, I then moved to become a full-time student. Music was still there though, I was just listening and being inspired.
I will have to admit one day I looked up and saw the advent of CD-R and that’s when it started to hit me again “The music dream or passion” I was actually thinking I did the wrong thing, but I continued with my schooling and ignored the feelings I was getting. When I was on co-op and working for Lockheed Martin, I went into a Sam Ash one day and I found myself buying a K2000 Kurzweil, which in its time was the best sampling keyboard.
6 When (at what age) did you commit yourself to music as something very important in your life? Not necessarily as a full-time musician, but as someone who knew he HAD to make music to fulfill himself?
I really feel I have known this since I was about 6 or 7. I keep ignoring my inner feelings sometimes, but when you come right down to it, I still have the passion for it. I still fight for it. I love music so much I can’t imagine my life without it. Music is in my blood and I can’t help that. I mean I go a year, maybe two and then it hits me again. As I’m writing this it hits me, because I’m remembering everything I promised myself and maybe I’m still sticking to it BUT taking a long way home. I know there are others out there who are probably hungrier than me for life with music but I have to tell ya I would be in the top 2 percent for someone who at least FEELS for it. As we all know, it takes more than feelings it takes action and getting people to relate to you, and I think that is the hardest thing for me, how do I relate to people (who would ultimately become a fan, and I have no answer for that)
7. How did you come to be interested in the type of music you now play?
Well like I said before, I grew up on Beethoven Piano Sonata’s, and many other classical piano works. I have always created a fake style of classical music, even in high school; I did that to exercise my creativity. It sounded classical but of course, it wasn’t, but I had fun with it and I did a lot of improvisation. I have to admit I really enjoy improvisation because it just is what I feel in that moment. The biggest problem with that type of music is the perfection or getting it tighter. I can’t do that with the type of music I do, because I don’t remember what I did and I can’t associate all the notes I play to a feeling and necessarily get that feeling back. So the type of music you hear (Gentle Beauty or Love’s Embrace), comes from my feelings at the moment.
8. Do you currently have a non-music job that helps to pay the bills?
Yes, I am a Senior FPGA Design Engineer for Westinghouse Electric Company. I verify and design special custom chips that go into protection systems for Nuclear Power Plants. In the past, I was also an FPGA design engineer for military communication systems and I did ASICs for Military satellite communication systems, and I did a battleship communication system on one job. So I have a job that is not musical ☹ however I’m still praying and hoping that one day that will shift.
10. What is your dream music project, one that you would love to do but haven't yet?
My biggest dream project would be a piano concerto with modern instruments and my dream has already been done with a variety of artists. People like Yanni, John Tesh, Mike Oldfield, David Arkenstone, and Sarah Brightman. People like that, people that can handle big projects and get them done on big budgets and the whole thing including playing live with it. It would have an intriguing story with lots of musical/character themes. Kind of like a live story soundtrack in a way and lots of collaborating musicians, have to have that ☺ and I would love to have that.
I would love to have Will Ackerman produce it and hire not just his great people, but a full symphony and at that level, it would be scored and written. I may not score it ☺ but I would have the themes done and have my friend score it ☺ My friend Gary loves to do full scores and he would probably have a field day with it (he did the harmonic work on Ashley’s Spirit (Love’s Embrace), his own work is really beautiful but I’m amazed he figured out where I was in my improvisation. For what I gave him, I was happy it came out and I wanted people to know that IS the direction I’m heading. I will start moving toward more planned compositions so I can go back and bring perfection in them. Practice and try to be as close to perfect as possible. Improvisation can be so fun but it can also be a label or style to hide behind and I realize this as an artist, if I want people to know I’m serious about my music (well serious in the sense that I love my art form and craft) then I need to start crafting. I want people to know this is my path and it’s mighty slow (sometimes I wish I could just get to the end game and stop being so insecure, taking little steps, if I’m not careful it will never be done). (Since the questions of this bio interview, I also have a met another orchestrator named Eamonn Karran. Amazing Celtic orchestrator and he did an amazing job on the new CD called "Innocence" and "All Sovereign God")