Take some time to get to know this true talent!
Where did you grow up?
I was born in the state of Washington, but moved to the Kansas City area when I was very young. The house we lived in is actually the subject of a song called "Willow Creek" which is on my Changes CD. It was a special place for me because it's where I discovered my love for music and where I learned to play and write. Even though we no longer live there, I can still visit Willow Creek virtually and get the same feelings as when I was a kid. It was a special place for me, and will always be.
You started playing music pretty young, what was your influence?
I did start young, about 6 or so. My primary musical influence has been Dan Fogelberg. I really enjoy his guitar stylings and his lyrics are very expressive. I actually learned his first album, Home Free, note for note on both the guitar and piano. I followed his music my entire life, and listen to his music regularly today. We lost a great artist when he passed.
What is the music scene like in Missouri?
I would classify it as interesting. We have quite a variety of music ranging from Jazz and Blues, through Cover Rock and Country, to full acoustic stuff. Diverse would be yet another description. There are really fine players and entertainers in KC, and some talented songwriters as well. It seems in the southern part of the state, traditional country is quite popular
When writing a song, what is your process?
I am essentially a storyteller at heart. I always write the lyrics first. As the story comes to life in the lyrics, the music, melody and instrumentation are all matched to the story. I think the music is used to highlight the lyric, and certainly not the other way around. I know some folks come up with a cool lick or a guitar part, then write the lyrics to go along with it. That just does not work for me. I think an artist should have something to say, hence the reason I always write the lyrics first, then expand from there.
I love the song "Find A Way," is there a real life story behind it?
Thanks for the compliment. Find A Way is a story about the day my Dad passed away. I missed spending his last moments with him by about 5 minutes. Find A Way is based on something he taught me when I was young, "If you want something bad enough, and are willing to put in the blood, sweat, tears and toil, you can always Find A Way." I missed the chance to tell him how much I loved him one last time by 5 minutes. In the tune I explore some of the many lessons he taught me, the stories he would tell, and his way of teaching me life lessons through those stories. Dad was a really great man. He overcame many obstacles including the great depression, Oklahoma dust bowl, and as a Paratrooper and POW in WWII. He was very fortunate to live through the war and his injuries, but yet came home and built a great business career, positively affecting many lives along the way. He used to say he was a "fugitive from the law of averages". That's a great line! At the end of the song, I play a version of The Wild Wood Flower, his favorite song. That is my attempt to "Find A Way" to tell him I love him one more time.
Do you perform live often?
During the recording process of the Find A Way CD, I purposely did not play live. I wanted to use all my time focusing on the recording. Now that the CD is out, I am playing live again. I plan to play a show at least twice a month, and more if possible. I play both solo acoustic, with another guitar player, and occasionally with a full band. I enjoy all the configurations, but my favorite is solo. It gives me more freedom to dive into the songs, the stories, and explain what each tune means to me. I enjoy that and I've learned the audience enjoys it as well. I guess it goes back to my storytelling.
Where do you record at?
Find A Way was recorded at LA Audio in Olathe, Kansas. (http://www.la-audio.com) LA Audio is a boutique recording studio that has all the latest gear and technology, as well as the best acoustic room (in my opinion) in the Kansas City area. The owner, Lynn Allred did all the engineering on the project. Lynn does a great job and gets really clear acoustic guitar sounds, which is a priority for me. That said, we've also been known to have a pretty good time while we work. That really makes it special. LA Audio is also the home studio for Enneagram Records, (http://enneagramrecords.com) which is the label I signed with. There are many talented artists on the label, which is owned by Max Berry of Max Berry Music. (https://www.linkedin.com/in/max-berry-72bb431b) Max also played and sang on the Find A Way project. He is quite a talented man, and a really good guy, as well.
Tell us about your latest project.
Well, it's been quite an event. I decided to put 10 original songs on the CD, and added 3 Dan Fogelberg songs, and a John Denver song. As mentioned earlier, I am a big fan of Fogelberg and wanted to show my respect by recording some of my favorites of his. I really like the way they turned out. None of the covers are me trying to imitate, but rather my take on each of the songs. The John Denver song I actually performed when I was in school. We recorded it in what I call studio live. We just turned on the mikes and I played it. I think we replicated the school performance pretty well. The originals are quite diverse both lyrically and musically. They range from a Rock/Blues feel on "Walk Away", to really pretty acoustic feel on "Where I Need to Be". Lyrically I am really proud of all the tunes, but I think "Goodbye Will Never Come Again", "Close Calls", and "This I Know" are pretty special to me. I used 6 different alternate tunings and 8 different acoustics to get the songs to "feel" right.
An interesting element of the project is the cover art. I had it consigned to a German artist, Damijan Fric. (http://www.damijan-fric.de/) Though we have never met, we exchanged many emails and messages to get to know each other. The finished painting is really interesting, thought provoking, and just overall cool. He really captured the essence of the "Find A Way" journey to balance all the elements of our lives to reach "Where We Need To Be". Really outstanding work.
I hope as people hear the tunes, they can personalize the stories and the ideas, and have them meet them at a place in their lives. If this occurs, then we have reached success.
What can we expect from you in 2017?
Based on the first month, I think Find A Way will reach a large audience worldwide. I travel quite a bit which puts me in contact with many different people and cultures. This is quite inspiring to me and leads to new ideas and new songs. I have a little mantra I like to use. "If you hear a song that sounds like it was written about you, it may have been". This is where much of my inspiration comes from. I hope to have more interaction with different people and cultures, understand them as best I can, and hear their stories. I expect that 2017 will bring more interesting people, stories, and music into my life. And possibly more guitars. You can never have enough guitars.
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