The BIO page :
I returned to Steel and playing shows locally in Sept , 2001 from a 12 or 13 year self inflicted lay-off. My main axes were a 2004 / Double neck Carter, 9+8 and a 1989 Fender 52RI Telecaster. My primary amp was a 1971 Fender Twin reverb . I had been playing regularly from the early 70's thru the end of the 80's then for whatever reason stopped playing Steel, sold it and just played Guitar and Bass from that point on. What was I thinking . Today , 2016, I am playing Emmons and Sho Bud Pedal Steels , Fender Telecasters and a variety of different amps to match the show that I am playing.
It is also equally important to reflect back on my guitar playing and the influences that I have brought forward. I have always been a big fan of the Stones, the Beatles, the British Invasion bands , West Coast Country Rock bands , the Blues and the LA Fusion scene mixed in , which brings me to Robben Ford , I think that even now I play from a place that I have learned from listening to Robben, thanks Robben wherever you are. And of course listening to the two Erics, Clapton and Johnson, Larry Carlton, Brent Mason, and Bass players Roscoe Beck, Nathan East, Abe Laboriel, Leeland Sklar as well as Michael Rhodes. These are all very melodic players and can influence any genre of musician. Other mainstream influences, Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Poco, Ritchie Furay, the Eagles etc...
to all of them, I have a lot of music to fall back on today...
And now , for the rest of the story ... mid 60's to 2016
I grew up in Westport Ct. and have been playing guitar since around 1960. Started playing in bands around '62 or so. We played all the Ventures tunes and when we played all we knew we played 'em again! Thru most of the 60's I was fortunate to play in a few Rock Bands ( Beatles / Stones influence )with some good friends who just happen to be fine musicians as well , both then and now. Rick Castillo of Westport Ct. is currently fronting a group named the Responders . Rick is a real fine singer, Guitar player and Bass player and we still maintain our friendship . Chip Jackson, also a former Westporter was always a fine Bass player and it must have stuck because after touring with Woody Herman and Chuck Mangione he now plays upright for The Dr. Billy Taylor Trio. Not bad for a kid who started out on a Hagstrom Bass ! It wasn't until the very late 60's that my interest in the Country licks on guitar developed . Buffalo Springfield was my first influence. From there I became very familiar with the Country Rock groups which is where my early influence to Steel was. Poco, Pure Prarie League, New Riders etc.. I actually knew someone who had an Emmons D-10 ! It was Red and it was amazing ! All I could think was how could anyone actually play this thing ! It was around this time I bought a Sho-Bud Maverick 3 + 1. My friend from NYC back then, Marty Friedman ( now Dr. Marty Friedman ) who owned the Red Emmons D10 ,used to come by my house and show me stuff to get me moving along. He also introduced me to two records of which had a major influence on my musical direction and Pedal Steel playing , Charlie Pride Live at Panther Hall with Lloyd Green ( Ohh Lloyd ) and the very famous Black Album by Buddy Emmons. I still have both of those records today which I have transferred to CD and listen to often while driving . I haven't seen Marty in many years and assume he is a great physician somewhere, last I heard he was at Georgetown. Thanks Marty.
After hearing Lloyd Green and Buddy Emmons, that was it, I sold the Sho-Bud Maverick and immediately purchased a brand new Sho-Bud Pro III D-10 /8+4 in NYC at Sam Ash music. Black Lacquer with Gold inlay roping, this was a beauty. I was somewhat familiar with what a single 10 with 3 pedals and 1 knee lever did but a D10 with all them pedals and 4 knee levers ? Geeze !! I could have stared in the movie "Clueless" back there in the 70's ! Clearly at the time though I was convinced that sitting behind this Sho-Bud elevated me to top dog cool status but it's entirely possible I was becoming a legend in my own mind ! I told a few local folks about my new Steel and shortly received a phone call to play out. Of course I told them I could play but in actuality it was not quite the truth, sort of the truth , but closer to not the truth. Well I played the gig and yes, I got fired.
Getting fired didn't stop me, I just practiced a lot and became more familiar with the tunes being played in the clubs, that was the whole ticket, knowing the songs.
I played several gigs over the next year or so, but I let them all know up front that I was a newbie and may or may not be able to play all the tunes. I worked with several folks in Southern Ct who were just glad I was there with a Steel. All gave great help, advise and inspiration.. My next deal was to get hired by my friend Fred Roos who gave me two gigs in one week . This two gig deal with Fred lasted for many years and finally I was learning "all the tunes" and becoming very comfortable with the D-10. ( I was still screetchin' though ) My friendship with Fred still remains today.
side note: The guys that fired me at the very beginning hired me many many times thru the years and we became pretty fair friends to boot. I will always remember Kenny Erickson and Jack Dwan, both fine experienced players who were always willing to share knowledge and experience with me.
Over the next several years I became active in the area with both the Ct. Steel Guitar Association which was founded by Harry Guffee and also became a member of the PSGA which was founded by Bob Maickel and staff out of New York .This was a great era to be involved with the Pedal Steel. I was able to see and converse with many of the great players, Buddy Emmons, Buddy Charleton, Reece Anderson, Jeff Newman, Doug Jernegan and many more of the great players.
Along about 1981, I was asked to help put together a band for a big "REVLON" family outing. We put together a 10 piece band which was being fronted by a fine female vocalist, Bonnie Cararbe, who's father played a Fender Triple Neck for many years . Bonnie had worked with her Dad for many years in the area and was no stranger to the bandstand. The gig was ok, but the best part was that from the gig Bonnie and I put our own band together and the rest is history. Bonnie and I got married April 10, 1983. Our band worked regularly for the next 4 or 5 years pretty much right up until we moved from Ct. to North Carolina, where we live now. I dabbled on the steel a little bit after we moved to NC but spent more time on Guitar and then several years on Bass. Sadly the Steel sat idle for a few years then got put in it's case where it stayed until I sold it around '94 or so. Looking back, that was a mistake. We still have the Fender Triple Neck that belonged to Bonnie's dad, but it is in need of total restoration.
Somewhere in between all this I did work in a group with Denney Dougherty of the Mamma's and the Pappa's fame. He sure was a great singer but that band had Nuclear Implosion written all over it. I survived about 3 months. I also had spent some time working with Barry and Holly Tashian during one summer in Westport. Holly was fronting her own band named Holly and the Outskirts and was a fine singer. Although I was only with them a short time it was and still is a nice memory. Barry went on to sing with Emmy Lou Harris for many years as her stage duet partner. He also played guitar and sang an several of her albums as well. Side note: Barry was one of the original founding members of the Flying Burrito's Brothers and also toured with the Beatles with his band "The Remains". The last time I saw Barry he was walking out on stage with Merle Haggard at a concert I attended in NYC. I was certain he saw me sittin' out there in Giant Stadium among the other 30 or 40 thousand people. ( yeah I know, Giant stadium is in NJ) Barry and Holly now reside in Nashville , write songs, cut records and tour together. Please visit their website at the above link. I have very recently been in contact with Holly and we will look Holly and Barry up on our next Nashville visit.
Another great memory is one time I we drove 3 hours North to do a Jerry Lewis Telethon event which was to be televised live on and off during the labor day TV show. When we got there ( it took us almost a whole case of beer to get there) we were quite surprised to learn that there was no TV truck and no camera's. Just a fund raising event where the oldest person there was about 6 years old just running around the big room having a ball. Heck we played anyway and had a good laugh all the way home.
Septemebr 2001 I pulled out the Buddy Emmons Black album, Lightening struck again! within a few months I sold my Gibson ES 335 , My Hartke Bass system and a bunch of other stuff and purchased my first Carter D10, A Sho-Bud Professional D10 , a Nashville 1000 ,Goodrich 120 Volume Pedal and various pedals and such. I have attended several MSGA Steel events here in NC and Buddy Walkers shows in Saluda SC. I've also been jamming and playing out with a local band , Mid Life Crisis, that plays out about twice a month. My practice schedule is regular and I am spending more time on melody lines rather than licks. The licks are there but a little ( very) sloppy. During my previous tenure on Steel I didn't spend as much time on melody lines as I should have so better late than never. I also find myself playing with totally different phrasing and tonality than before as well. I feel this is attributed to me playing a Fender J-Bass ( 4 string ) behind a Grand Piano in a Pentecostal Christian band for over 5 years. Folks, I learned how to play in Eb and Ab. I'm somewhat certain that the good Christian lady that played Grand Piano would have smacked me on the side of the head if I didn't play to her expectations. This Bass playing experience has had a major impact on my listening and playing. Anyway, I'm workin' hard at it and glad to be back. By the way, the J-bass, a '62 re-issue with an E extender through the Hartke System was awesome. I bought this Bass while on a visit in NYC , I went into Manny's music to show my wife and daughter the store and came out with the Bass... It's a good thing I didn't go there to buy anything !
Around the same period I acquired a 1989/ 52RI Fender Telecaster which remains my primary guitar today.
I have been a member of the Steel Guitar Forum ( thanks b0b ) since Sept or Oct 2001 and have had a great time reading and participating with my many new friends. I purchased my Carter on Forum members praises without ever even seeing one. I bought that Steel from Forum member Jim Ashton, no disappointments here. Thanks Jim.
The Steel Guitar TAB/CD series which I began producing around 2005 ,was born from recording many tracks to different tunes so that I could practice them myself. I played a few local shows and several players approached me to purchase a CD of the tracks. So, the series was born. I have approx. 13 cataloged programs to date which in the scheme of things do pretty well...Each month there are a few orders...
Around early 2004 I hooked up with a fine group of young players, here in Charlotte and have begun to gig with them on a regular basis. This would be TJ and Matt Cook. This is a fine venue for me personally, a great group of young players who have also become fine friends This band has pushed me way past any " Comfort Zone" that I have ever been in. With this band I had to change my entire approach to playing as just getting by with the stock shuffles and typical licks was no longer going to cut it. Additionally, playing guitar along side Matt has been a great experience, this fine young player has forced me to expand my guitar playing as well. Tj and Matt together have a depth of songs that is 2nd to nobody...each gig I am constantly amazed !
I play regularly with the Tim Cook Band , as well as two other groups on a regular basis , Darrell Bumgardner and Sunshine out of Gastonia NC and The Stoney Creek band out of Concord NC.
I have built a Pro Tools 12 Studio in the house ( Home Studio), The Rumble Room. This keeps me very busy when not playing shows. Recording clients, E-Sessions or tracking my own original songs and productions is where a bulk of my time is spent.
I also remain a gear head, always acquiring more "stuff", like; Fender amps, Taylor Acoustics , Fender Electric Guitars, Emmons and Sho Bud Pedal Steel Guitars and recording gear...
Thanks for reading....