Posted 28 October 2004, 10:35
I attended Simon’s Rock College from 1974 to 1978, where I studied with Larry Wallach and Thom Lipiczky, and was the first person to earn a BA from that school with a major in Music Theory & Composition. During that time, I also studied classical guitar with guitarist/lutenist Edward Flower. In 1975 I met my friend Jonathan Gams, with whom I have been playing and writing off-and-on ever since.
After graduating, I changed my focus to electric guitar and moved to New York City to help start a band called People Falling (co-led with Jon). I lived there for ten years, during which time I was fortunate to become part of the “downtown” new music scene, due to my status as a member of what was at that time a fairly rare species: the electric guitarist who likes to play weird stuff and reads music.
While in NYC, I had the privilege of working with several composers:
I also got to play with a number of outstanding musicians. A partial list, in no particular order: Lenny Picket, Stan Harrison, Steve Elson, Bill Ruyle, Steve Manes, David Rosenberg, Nora York, Jim Pugliese, Ted Mook, Zev Katz, Billy Ficca, Michael Gordon, Ralph Carney, Bobby Previte, Pam Fleming, David Van Tiegham.
In 1987 Kathleen and I had our first child, and in 1988 we moved out of the city. My participation in the downtown NY music scene tailed off over the next year, and music took a back seat for a few years as I concentrated on supporting my family as a professional software developer.
Eventually, I started playing acoustic music again in the context of Sufi spiritual practices to accompany illahi (songs) and dhikr (the rhythmic repetition of certain phrases including the 99 Names of God). I started to learn to play the bendir (frame drum), the saz (Turkish fretted instrument from the folk tradition) and the tanbur (Turkish fretted instrument from the classical tradition). I never became an accomplished player of these instruments, but learned a little bit about the makam system and some other aspects of Near/Middle-Eastern music, especially in Turkey.
This led to a musical partnership with singer/drummer/songwriter Lua Hightower, with whom I eventually formed Beloved World Music Ensemble, a (mostly) acoustic group. Beloved has performed in various configurations ranging from a duo to a five-piece group. We released a CD in 2001. The group is on a bit of a hiatus right now as Lua and I are living too great a distance from one another to work on a regular basis. Several wonderful musicians have contributed to Beloved, including Humayun Farzad Khan (voice and harmonium), Cybele Paschke (voice, sarangi, and tamboura), Shankar (tablas), Todd Roach (frame drums and dumbek), and Fred Stubbs (ney).