Blog

A "Wonder"ful Day....

Stevie WonderFinally meeting your all time music idol makes for a special day. Thank you Stevie. What more can I say?

Meeting a Jazz Idol

George Benson

April, 2012 I attended a concert at the MIM in Phoenix Az. Great concert with performances by Lewis Nash and Wynton Marsalis. Attending the concert, unfortunately not performing, was one of my musical idols. After the show I was able to meet George Benson. In my early days trying to teach myself jazz guitar, I spent countless hours trying to emulate the jazz licks of Mr. Benson. Meeting him was a real thrill. That is likely obvious from my huge grin in the photo. George was very nice and accomodating to a fan. Great musician. Nice man. We chatted, apparently looking like old friends from the comments of others. In a way, I did feel like we were old friends considering the amount of time I've spent enjoying and studying his music. George went so far as to suggest we should "hook up" sometime. In shock, that my idol was suggesting such a thing, I babbled on about something or the other. I regret to this day that I did not take him up on the offer. DOH!!

Herbie

HerbieMy wife and I were having our coffee one morning when I mentioned that I would love to hear Herbie Hancock live in concert. As for jazz pianist, he is at the top of my list. A quick check on the internet showed he would be performing in my home town of St. Louis in March. Reservations were made and the next thing I know I had tickets. Yay!

My longtime friends, Ernie and Susan Planck, offered to provide a place for me to stay. I was happy to get extra tickets so that they could attend the concert with me. Concert was great and hanging out with the Planck's was great fun. Herbie is truly an inspirational musician. At times he seems to approach the instrument very much as a precision instrument which, of course, is what it actually is! We attended the "meet and greet" after the concert hoping to meet Herbie. As shown in the photo, I almost got close enough to meet Mr. Hancock personally. After looking at the photo, my wife said it looked like I was "stalking" Herbie.

Hello Old Friend

Early PianoAfter a 25 year hiatus I've started playing the piano again. I didn't see that one coming!
I started dabbling after hiring a piano instructor for my daughter. I would often listen in as he was working with her and thought his technical approach to the instrument was interesting. He and I got along and started working together once a week. I enjoyed approaching the instrument with an entirely new mindset focusing on technique. This appealed to me because I always felt my technique was lacking, even when I was a regular performing musician. My goal was to keep it fun. For some reason, music theory always came naturally to me. Working on scales, chords, rhythms from a technical context was hard work. Also, having played mostly be ear most most of my life, sight reading music has always been a challenge. Classical music is a great way to build technique so I'll be focusing a lot there.
It took quite a while before I felt I had reached the point where I was comfortable performing in public again. Now I'm playing on a regular basis in variety places ranging from senior living facilities to a recent performance at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts. Not having to rely on music for financial support allows me to just do it for fun. Being a competitive person I have to be careful not to push myself to the point where I'm not enjoying the instrument. After all, music is to be enjoyed!!
I'm thinking it will provide a great retirement activity. I want to be the guy at the piano where people wander over and say "play it again Sam"…

A Musical Christmas

guitarA guitar showed up under the Christmas tree one year. Why my father decided to buy it, I have no idea. Did I like it? Well, it changed everything. I started playing... and playing... and playing. I practiced until my fingers bled. I wonder to this day if my Dad ever regretted the purchase. My focus became music. Not just, any music mind you. I wanted to play JAZZ! Not sure why. It was just always that way. Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Joe Pass, Grant Green, Melvin Sparks.... those cats could play! As often happens, things didn't work out as planned. "Paying" jazz gigs were far and few in-between and typically were held down by very accomplished musicians performing at a level I had not yet reached. So, as I worked on my "jazz chops", I started gigging around the St. Louis area in "funk" bands. As things turned out, I enjoyed playing funky music as well. You can read more about my early music career on my Bio page here.