The first music I liked a lot was the commercial folk of the late 50's
and early 60's. Kingston Trio, the Limeliters and so forth. From that
I was drawn to the Leadbelly Woody Guthrie Pete Seeger Lomax Songbook
level. There was a realness to the music and the words actually said things.
So when I first learned guitar that was the music I tried to play.
Of course the Folk Era ended abruptly with the assassination of JFK and
the arrival of the Beatles. In the mid to late 60's and on into the early
70's I played bass in bands a little and did a few recording projects
but I was more a songwriter than a performer until in the mid 70's and
on into the early 80's I was a solo act and bass player in the Cleveland
In the early 80's I was also in charge of the Red Horse Hollow, a very
basic little good-sounding acoustic performance space in Lakewood, Ohio.
Fondly remembered. My running it was actually an instance of voters not
always choosing wisely. Anyhow I had some money at the time and I used
some of it to keep the place going. Also, I bought a Green Ford Bronco.
When I noticed the money diminishing I thought I'd be better off already
in motion than stuck in Ohio.
In 1984 I moved to Portland Maine where I did a bit of random club playing.
The Bronco got me back to Ohio from Maine a couple of times for summer
gigs, playing bass with Richard Greer at the Casino on Kelley's Island.
The Bronco finally became non-operational with transmission issues in
the winter of '87 in a parking lot at Wellesley College, near Boston.
I had a friend there. Deborah. Then in the summer of '87 I got into street
playing. Exchange Street in the Old Port. That fall I headed down to New
York and got acclimated to playing in subway stations and sleeping in
parks. Spent a few years there. When I was fully acclimated a typical
day would involve playing a morning set at Astor Place, spending the afternoon
in Central Park, playing a couple of evening sets somewhere, then hanging
out at the International Bar on 1st Avenue (East Village) until it closed.
Then crashing a couple of hours in Tompkins Square Park. Worked for me.
At the International Bar I met a friend who had money and liked to go
to Grateful Dead shows. He took me along to the New Years '92 show in
Oakland. So then I was in San Francisco for most of the 90's, playing
the sidewalks and BART stations. I made a series of cassettes at my buddy
Mike Coykendall's very nice home studio to sell when I played. The first
one was all traditional, them old folk tunes, but the subsequent ones
had more and more originals. I kind of got into a nice writing groove
for a while out there. Those were the days.
So come 2000 I was back in Ohio and it turned out that my Mom had a nice
apartment on the lake with a spare room and she needed someone to drive
the car and take the trash to the dumpster and so forth. Worked for me.
I kind of got out of playing music. Delivered pizzas for a few years.
Eventually though I started doing open mics again, first just the Enclave
in downtown Willoughby, but later Gary Hall's open mics and Rider's and
some others. Got me back into writing songs. Also evenutally I got back
into street playing on the strip in downtown Willoughby. Which got me
back into playing banjo.