About The Artist
A MODERN-DAY HOMER
I grew up in the hills and forests of western Pennsylvania and spent my summers at the New Jersey shore but have lived all over the world.
My childhood bedroom was a mix of solar system dioramas and Ancient Greek mythology, subjects that epitomize my fascination with where humanity fits into the Universe and my need to approach my albums with a large scope that sees the big picture (the epic) while simultaneously embracing an eye for detail. Consequently, each album has a larger thematic arc with the individual songs functioning as vignettes, stops along the way that form a cohesive journey (much like an Altman film).
In third grade, my parents acquired a vintage upright player piano from the 1890s, and for the next three years I studied piano eight months out of each year. My instructor, Minnie Watkins, was the old grandmother of one of my parents' friends. Already over ninety when I began studying under her, Minnie had been teaching music for seventy years and taught for the love of it. She charged me $2 an hour. She started me off with "Beautiful Dreamer" and "Somewhere, My Love (Theme from Dr Zhivago)" and eventually had me playing simplified arrangements of Mozart and Beethoven.
During the summer before seventh grade, my family moved to southern California, where I began to study writing in earnest under some amazing teachers (Ms. Joan Dann in seventh and eight grade, and Ms. Doris Blake in ninth grade). In Irvine, I also encountered several lifelong friends who have also been constant artistic inspirations, chief among them Bettina Joy de Guzman of Ancientlyric and Lyra.
When my family returned to western Pennsylvania, I began to merge my poetry with music. Some of my earliest songs written during this time — Endless Street, House of Cards, The Consecrated Mother (adapted from the Anne Sexton poem), In My Arms, and Fool's Lullabye — are still part of my recorded and live repertoire.
In 1989, I attended the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts, where I first played my original song "House of Cards" live. At Penn State, I continued to write songs that eventually became my first two self-produced and self-released albums, ENDLESS STREET: A SPIRITUAL TRAVELOGUE and SURVIVING THE JONESES. While those two albums are currently out of print, my band and I are re-recording those albums one track at a time in between our newer projects.
After college, I took a decade and a half hiatus from recording and performing original music. During part of that tenure I was providing full-time live-in eldercare to my grandmother, who suffered from age-related dementia and various physical ailments. When I began to write again in 2008, my efforts were at first curtailed by vocal issues: I ruptured vocal folds and my esophageal sphincter due to coughing fits caused by pneumonia. I have been slowing regaining my voice. Despite not having even half my range restored at the time, I began to record MEMOIRS OF A MANWHORE: THE REELING WALTZ OF A DRUNKEN LOTHARIO in late 2010 with Adam Silverstein in Derby, England. The rest is history.