An overwhelming majority of my musical influence stems from the work of bluegrass guitarist Tony Rice, evidenced by the fact that many songs I play are indeed Tony Rice covers. I am aware that I have a very particular (I don’t dare say narrow!) taste in music, and at its core is bluegrass, and old- time mountain music. Other genre’s I listen to are various traditional forms of world music, classical, and Italian opera. I attribute my selectiveness with music to being a musical “blank slate” for much of my early life. Other than playing trumpet in school, I really had no connection with music; I had no mp3 player until age 20, owned no CD’s until maybe high school, and basically, didn’t know anything about anything when it came to bands.
And that’s where Tony came in. I can remember quite clearly one afternoon, when I was maybe 15 or 16, going over one of my best friend’s house, and finding him and his dad in the kitchen, with music playing out of the speakers in the corner. His dad casually asked “Do you like bluegrass?”. I (not knowing anything about anything of course), nodded toward the speakers and simply responded “I’ve never heard of it, but if this is bluegrass I love it!”. He showed me the CD that was playing and it was a Tony Rice album. I was completely stunned by the rapid fire syncopation that describes Tony’s picking. Well, that was my spark of inspiration. Shortly thereafter I got a guitar for Christmas. I messed around with it a little, but in those days, I was definitely more of a listener than a player. It wasn’t until college, when I got a job and bought myself a fiddle, based on a long forgotten but renewed fantasy that I would someday be able to fiddle like Pa in Little House on the Prairie, that I began to make any real progress. Owning two different string instruments was apparently what it took to get me really working, and what I learned on each instrument separately only made me better at the other. Since that time I have also bought harmonicas, a banjo, and then a dobro.
Still, the best thing I ever did to start learning quicker was to start practicing with other musicians. I was introduced to Matt Morrissey and we started jamming together pretty regularly, and went with a group to the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in New York (which we often refer to as our new Christmas to look forward to). It was there that we did our first open mic performance together, and later on through a chance meeting with Eli at the open mic at the Gulu Gulu Café in Salem Matt met and introduced me to the Tree House Charlatans, who have been a huge part of teaching me to improvise. I could say a lot of good things about these folks, but since they have their own biographies, let me just say that they are a really great group of people to hang out with and I’m very blessed to have met them.
Outside of music, my interests include birdwatching, backpacking, bicycling around the North Shore, and canoeing. I was raised on the ocean, and almost all of my childhood memories of summer are of trips on my parents’ boat, exploring mysterious islands with my younger brother. I love art, and periodically do acrylic paintings, mostly portraits of birds in their natural habitat. I have also been trained in glassblowing and glass sculpture. I have traveled the country fairly extensively for someone my age, and have spent time backpacking in New Hampshire, Alaska, Virginia, Vermont and Arizona. I have visited many National Parks and other natural landmarks on a road trip in summer of 2012 which brought me to Kentucky, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, South Dakota, Michigan, (and of course many states in between). I graduated from Salem State University, and now work as a nurse on an adult psychiatric unit.