Luckily, I fell 30 feet out of a tree at age 9. Ouch! Up until then I cared only about hiking, skiing, and Little League baseball. Well... I got a 5 year break from all that, and so I tuned, instead, into the `folk boom'.
One of my dad's colleagues lent me a vintage Gibson and his Chet Atkins records, which got me fingerpicking my way through a maze of fancy chords in time to fathom the Beatles. And I proceeded to love and mimic just about everything that burst out of the radio in that fabulous era.
In the early `70s I followed my wanderlust through Europe and the Middle East, several times, and even spent 7 months teaching guitar in Beirut.
Settling in Atlanta, I took up carpentry, which is how I've supported myself for more than 25 years. At first, during a somewhat serious college phase, music took a back seat. Still, I occasionally played coffeehouses and parties around Emory University.
Awakened to politics, I soon found myself singing the likes of Phil Ochs and Malvina Reynolds for every damn cause you can imagine. And, in the process, I began to find my voice.
Back in Atlanta a bohemian spirit bubbled up in Little Five Points, and I was fortunate to include myself among the movers and shakers of a neighborhood where the currents of the Sixties found an actual home. In addition to my role as a `topical songwriter', I learned to play electric guitar in a band called `Muggles'. Many thanks to Janna and Scott for immersing me in the standards of Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington, etc., and for appearing on my CD.
When I directed the Mother Courage music again, at Seven Stages, the Atlanta Constitution's Helen C. Smith titled her review: "Music Highlights Production of Mother Courage".
Occasionally, we blow people's minds by playing out in the middle of fields or off the backs of our pick-ups, powered by a solar collector/converter!
In a whimsical effort to peer beyond the anti-nuclear heritage, yet still pay homage to it, we changed the name, awhile back, from `PAND Band' to the `ExPand Band'. `Merci beaucoups' to Bill, Bob, Ed and Rodger for the tracks they laid down on my CD, and, especially for a decade-and-a-half of inspired fun.
For me, celebrating `community' has always been as important as the music itself, so I've cultivated relationships with community-based singers needing accompaniment. I spent a decade with Joyce Brookshire (who writes textile mill-culture tunes). Amanda Perdew was a songwriter-leader of the Civil Rights Movement (who is featured on records issued by the Smithsonian), and she invited me into a marvelous culture. At a rally protesting the Presidential Parkway through our neighborhood, I found myself backing up Brenda Boozer (an opera singer at the New York Met), who then hired me to perform with her at her father's 50th college reunion (I also got to meet her husband, comedian Robert Klein).
Elise Witt and the Small Family Orchestra included me now and then. I learned some cajun from Pig Iron & the Back Bayou Band. And a once-a-week cabal of jazz enthusiasts guided me into the improvisational universes of Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, etc.
I've also kept a toe in the theatre. Played guitar in Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. Contributed songs to Faust For President, which played at the Alliance Studio during the 1988 Democratic Convention. Put a lyric to music for Theatre On The Prowl's Food Fright, and was `The Folksinger' in Banana Land. Portrayed Karl Marx in The American Supply and Demand Stand Show, a `battle of the bands' between "Karl and the Dialectics" and "Jimmy (Carter) and the Trilaterals".
As you can see, I'm eclectic. A true Gemini. The following gives you a sense of my quirky approach towards audiences. Please excuse the length of the list. It's just that I'd like to honor those I've enjoyed keeping various dreams alive with.
Along the way, in the Famous People Department, I've shared the bill and rubbed elbows with Jimmy Carter, Wavy Gravy, Andrew Young, the Indigo Girls, William Sloane Coffin, Congressman John Lewis, Stephen Gaskin, Dave Dellinger...
And I've performed at birthday parties, weddings, block parties, and so forth.
David, by the way, is a wizard, totally on top of the recording craft, and his easy-going, supportive personality creates an ideal climate for creativity. If you're in the market for a studio, A Sound Collective just might change your life.
Recently, David and his long-time friend, Randy Myers (thanks to him, too, for playing on the CD), formed Echo Lake Records and invited me to become their 3rd release. I am a lucky man, indeed. And we hope, of course, that y'all and your friends will buy, Buy, BUY!
I haven't inspired a lot of press yet, but Creative Loafing's Gregory Nicoll was quite nice to me recently, and I'd like to share his thoughts with you.
At the Red Light Cafe, Echo Lake Records is show-casing
another of its roster, Craig Rafuse, a new initiate to
the fretboard fraternity of Andy Irwin
and Ray Chesna. Rafuse is smaller in
physical stature than his labelmates but packs as much musical
muscle. His "Between The Lines" [actually a Steve
Goodman tune] is a telling chronicle of all the paperwork
between certificates--of birth,and of death--that begin and end
a human life. On other songs he shows he's quite a scat singer,
but his showcase tune is reworked Broadway. Plucking a few notes
from "The Sound of Music" songbook, he proffers politics
under the slightly reworked title: "How Do You Solve a Problem
Like Korea?" The number includes a needling Nixon impression,
a little punk-side story of his own.
Thanks for reading and listening. See you out on the road!