I’ve been plying the craft of guitar playing for a good while. I got interested in the instrument as a boy, after my mother purchased a “cheapie” with Green Stamps. One thing led to another and a Fender Mustang and a Gibson LG1 and an Ibanez PF200 and many others. I spent some time in college studying theory and composition, which was a valuable learning experience. Ives, Copeland, Hindemith, Bach,Mozart, Beethoven, became composers that occupied my aural time. Ear training, vocalizing, inversions, rules of harmonization, atonality, polytonality, dueling perfect 5ths and polyrhythms occupied my imagination. A fertile ground for rethinking music.
My involvement in a progressive rock band called Tetelestai (see John 19:31) was an important milestone in my musical experience. Francis Schaeffer’s “Art and the Bible” and Hans Rookmaaker’s “Art Needs No Justification” helped form a basis for our musical creativity. We played in the Baltimore area from the late ’70s to the late ’80s, creating a quirky brand of prog-rock. A follow on band called Return from Exile occupied much of my time into the early ’90s. Between the two groups, a significant recorded body of work was produced, including a vinyl album, and several cassette albums.
At length, my growing family necessitated a change in priorities, a musical rhythm all its own. I managed to keep my musical passion alive, even through periods of little time availability. Have you ever analyzed a fugue’s passing tones in your head while changing a child’s soiled diaper? I have.
The drive never left. I’ve continued to compose, perform and record, and I continue to find that an “old dog” can learn new tricks.
Then there are the guitarists I count as influences (in no particular order): Norman Blake for his wondrous flat-picking, Peter Lang for opening up American Primitive Guitar vistas, Phil Keaggy for his volume swells, Steve Hackett for his ethereal lead playing, Michael Hedges for the unbelievable experience of “Aerial Boundaries”, Martin Simpson for his ability to create musical beauty in simplicity, Robert Fripp for Frippertronics and the angularism of his melodies, Allan Holdsworth for tone and melody and harmony. And everyone I’ve ever heard…