I was born in the Appalachain mountains of Virgina near Tennessee and grew up in a loving home with one older brother. When I was six, Mike (my brother) begged, pleaded, whined and wheeled our father into buying a drum set. Since then, I have been involved in music at almost all times in my life. Granted, at six, I wasn't all that good a drummer, but the love affair with music was already starting.
Once my drumming started to be more than just banging around, I started to focus on hard rock and metal. My primary influences then were Neil Peart and Alex Van Halen. Most of the music that my brother and I listened to at that time was 70's rock 'n roll -- Rush, Boston, Kansas, Toto, Triumph. But my father had (and still has, as a matter of fact) a deep allegiance to honky-tonk country music. I still know all the words to 16 Tons, The Coward Of The County and Ring Of Fire. My mother was professionally trained as music educator, and she would listen to classical music when she had the chance. So things weren't all loud drum riffs and screaming guitars.
Right around my twelfth birthday, Mike got a bass guitar. He didn't stay with it for long, though, moving on to lead guitar. At 14, I picked up the bass from Mike as a hand-me-down (a Yakima P-bass knock off, which was soon traded for a Charvel P/J setup). Some of the first things I learned were afew Kool & The Gang songs (Emergency, Fresh) as well as some of the rock songs that I already knew on drums. Right about this same time, I also started to DJ in local establishments with friends, mostly spining dance music and Top 40.
Not too long after that time, Mike introduced me to Spyro Gyra. I already knew that there was a lot of interesting things that could be done on a bass (thank you, Geddy Lee), but this was my first exposure to any sort of jazz. A larger world opened up. Soon after that, I happened to find Stanley Clarke, and then Marcus Miller. My horizons continued to expand and then I was completely thrown for a loop one Sunday morning, when I was flipping around the channels. I happened to come across VH-1's Sunday Brunch, playing this really weird jazz video. Some strange band called Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. The video, of course, was Sinister Minister. I sat there completely dumbfounded, jaw hanging open, listening to Victor Lemonte Wooten play a simply astonishing song.
Soon after that, I started to work on my bass playing with a vengence. I focused on learning as much as I could about theory, structure, all the usual fundamentals (approached in a typical seventeen year old way). And, my enthusiasm carried me for a few years and a few bands (most of which came and went without disturbing anything other than the occasional neighbor).
College came along, and I went to Virginia Tech. There, I played in a few bands, DJed in several bars three of four nights a week, hung out with friends and somehow managed to scrape up a degree in Philosophy (a great education, but not the most practical of things). In college, I also discovered the wonderful universe of music from all over the world -- in particular African tribal music, Japanese Taiko drumming, DC go-go and Celtic music. With many, many balls in the air, playing bass started to take a lesser and lesser priority in my life.
After completing undergrad, I came to DC to work. There, my music pretty much stopped altogether; I didn't know all that many people in the area, and it was hard to get a break as a DJ (ten years of experience notwithstanding -- but ten years in small towns playing clubs that no one in DC had ever heard of). So, it was mostly nose to the grindstone, try to advance up the "real job" ladder, hang out with my girlfriend of the time, that sort of thing. Every so often, I'd get my bass out and fool around with it, but that was mostly so I could say to myself that I really could still play it if I really wanted to.
After living in DC for about five years or so, I was picking up my bass for another one of those "look-I-can-still-do-it" sessions, when I figured out how to do some things that I had heard many times before, but never quite got it right. That was the spark that I needed. I started playing more and more seriously, slowly getting back my chops and skills. I answered a few ads in the City Paper from time to time, playing for a while with one start-up after another. Then, I hooked up with a guy named Chris Patry. He was playing with one band out in Germantown, MD and they were looking for a bass player. I came out once or twice, but things didn't come together (to be honest, I don't remember why, though).
But, he hung on to my info and rang me up a few weeks later, saying that he had another band that was looking for a bass player. I came out, and then met Tommy Eicher and Tom Russell. These three guys were some of the best musicians with whom I've ever had the privilege of playing. They really pushed me to learn and improve so as to keep up with them; I'd like to think that I might have helped them as well. We played together for quite a few months, picking up a great singer (Nancy) along the way, but then I had to leave the band for various personal reasons.
I've been studying with Anthony Wellington for quite a while now. He's a very good instructor, making some of the more obscure things about music and music theory easy to grasp. Anthony has introduced me to a better approach to playing, as well as to some rather interesting people. On top of all his educational prowness, Anthony's also just a real quality guy. I would highly recommend him to anyone wanting a good instructor.
These days, I'm working on two or three different projects, as well as doing some solo writing. The writing is really starting to interest me. I'm drawing on elements of all the music with which I've ever been in contact: the groove and dancability from DJing, the esoteric nature of the world music, the straightforward head nod of well done hard rock, the interplay of chord progression and scales from jazz. It's a lot of fun to write, and I hope that other people will enjoy listening to it as much as I am enjoying writing and playing it.