“Songs in the Siesta Key of Life”
Q: You have reached some lofty accomplishments in the music business. Share with us some of the most significant.
A: “To answer this question is difficult because my involvement in the music industry has been very unique and varied as far as switching between studio work, being a guitar technician, and being a performer.
“I would have to say my favorite memories are the times I’ve spent working with Aerosmith. I started off with them 16 years ago as Brad Whitford’s guitar tech and ended up filling in for him on the 2009 tour when he had a serious injury. It’s definitely not the way you want to get a gig when your buddy is in the hospital, but I got in there and got the job done until he was able to return.
“After that I played with Slash from Guns N’ Roses for a couple of years and played with a couple of other artists on and off before going back to work for Aerosmith as Tom Hamilton’s bass technician.
“From the mid-1990s to around 2004 I was also working a lot in Los Angeles as a guitar tech for a lot of the biggest producers in the business on recording sessions. Basically, just coming into the sessions in the morning and making sure all of the stringed instruments were ready for the recording sessions as well as amplifiers and effects systems.
Those are what I remember as the salad days. That kind of work disappeared when people were able to start making records in their bedrooms, so the recording budgets dwindled away to almost nothing. That’s when I started going on the road a lot more, either as a musician or a guitar tech.”
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your musical background?
A: “There was always music playing in my house when I was growing up. My father loved jazz — he played trumpet and guitar — but my Mom and I connected more musically. My Mom and I used to hang out in the kitchen when I was real little, digging the same radio station where I grew up in Philadelphia. My Dad had bought her a guitar, but she never really picked it up, so he learned to play it and I learned by watching him and by watching my friends in high school as well.
“I entered the Air Force straight out of high school. When I got to my permanent base in North Dakota, I bought my first electric guitar at 18 and it was either uphill or downhill from there — whichever way you look at it!”
Q: How did it feel to return to the stage after the coronavirus shutdown?
A: “It was really freaking weird. I remember driving down to this gig somewhere near Sanibel on Fourth of July in 2020. It was a full-band gig with R.J. Howson and I singing and playing guitar, and it was one of the most bizarre gigs I’ve ever played in my life.
“We were playing on a boat dock in 96-degree heat to a bunch of boats that were floating around in the water. Believe me, it was really great, but I remember just feeling like it had been 100 years since I had done it.”
Q: You reside on the south end of Siesta Key. What makes this area for you a vibrant musical scene?
A: “First and foremost, what I immediately saw upon moving here is how not just musicians, but everybody, lift each other up. When you have a community of people who musically and spiritually lift each other up, the great music just comes naturally. The pool of artistic talent on Siesta Key and in the Sarasota area in general is just unbelievably deep.”
Q: Where can local music fans watch you perform?
A: “I’m at the Crescent Club at 7 p.m. every Wednesday night. I also play at Gilligan’s, the Sniki Tiki at Captain Curt’s, the Daiquiri Deck in the Village, and the Siesta Key Oyster Bar.
“Off the island, I play at the Big Top Brewing Company.”
(Community Spotlight each month features a resident who has an interesting occupation, activity, or story to tell. Please submit subjects you feel are worthy of some recognition to managing editor John Morton at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling or texting (941) 313-6992.)