(Formerly) Brief Autobiographical Sketch
I usually reject love once before accepting it. That happened with music. I suppose one would say that I come from a musical family. The passion to play and create pleasing sounds using time-honored methods seems to run in our blood. My brother, and three sisters all play; between my four siblings we have an opera singer and pianist, a crooner and guitarist of some repute , and two singers willing and able to accompany themselves on the piano. My parents also dabble, and always encouraged and appreciated the building of the family musical tradition. The house I grew up in was a constant rehearsal space with voice, piano, and guitar being heard on any given day, in any given room. I was the exception, however. I did not allow music to get close to me. I think I appreciated the music around me, but in a way I was competing for the same attention it was garnering through its play. It might be true that music was my enemy. .
When it became time for my first piano lesson, a standard course in the family music vector, I rebelled. My mother took me to the family piano teacher's house, a little place in the Wisconsin countryside, and here I would make my debut. I waited until the last moment and decided that this wasn't right, so I asked to go home, and somehow I was convinced to go inside, and when presented to the teacher I kicked adn screamed an indignant vow to all involved and with to never play piano, or music at all for that matter, for as long as I lived! Given the volume, and unexpectedness of this explosion, the astonished teacher was probably hoping I kept my promises.
I was able to keep my vow for about ten years, of which I filled with sporty activities, dungeons and dragons, and girls - not in that order. At sixteen though, a friend of mine convinced me to pick up a guitar. I Later that year, I purchased an electric guitar - an electric blue Fender Squire Strat, and a little practice amp. The first time I played in public with that guitar, an older and quite beautiful girl came up to me afterwards and told me how pretty it was - I'm not sure if she meant the guitar or the playing, but I suspect the former. For the first time, I knew why people play electric guitars.
Being a generally hardworking and introverted kid, I spent a lot of time alone with my guitar, practicing. When I was 18, some of what I could play was generally accepted as good for our little cow-town music pundits. That's is about when I started to hang out with my friend Gabriel. I think he was impressed when I was able to do those harmonics in the intro part of "Panama" by Van Halen. What I didn't really know was what a talented and completely unpredictable music maker he was. He and our late friend Christopher were in a synth pop band. They had great equipment, pretty good songs, and very clean mixes; Gabriel was a good singer, and could play every instrument in the studio (Chris' room), Chris was a drummer of some repute, and blossoming on the keys. As I started to absorb what music they were listening to and thinking about, it seems like we immediately tried to find a way to work together. What formed was a sort of strange band we called "Animated Steve." It wasn't long before we had a gig in Madison, the biggest scene in the area. We played strange covers and even stranger originals, and had one gig at a little club called "Club de Wash" in Washington Hotel. . I think one was quite enough. It was new band night, and we were either really bad or Madison was not ready for us. Sometimes this is a difficult judgement to make. However, an older, and rather beautiful, rather earthy girl told me after the show that she really liked my wah-wah pedal. For the first time, I knew why effects were very important to guitar playing.
Through this collaboration with Gabriel and Christopher, I was duly exposed to the musical possibilities of synthesizers, and computers. It wouldn't be long before I learned that with a bit of zeal and a sampler one could form an experimental electronic music group.
And Lo! After a couple of years, a coming of age, etc I became a part of a band called Dead Fish Don't Grow Old - a band in the sense that the sole objective of its members (variously up to six) was to play for live audiences and record as much of its bizarre music as possible. In reality this group viewed itself as more of an art project, a sinking pit of creative hijinx, a playground for lost muppets, and/or a well-oiled propaganda machine. (Another difficult judgement ot make, usually.) While it may sound pretensious, sophmoric, incomprehensible, and/or dull, the DFDGO was the greatest fun I've had playing music, ever. There is a certain liberation to having few boundaries in creating music, and that concept got revisted and re-evaluated quite frequently.
Since then I've been covertly recording my own music and have been good about preserving the accomplishments and defeats of those "sessions." I don't perform these days, save few open mics, and living rooms - my own. The cats, and my lovely wife make for a compassionate audience, particularly, if I sing about them, which is often what I do. After all, it is the moment that is to be lived for, and having them in my moments is worthy of song. It's good to make music for friends, and one shouldn't exclude strangers, including myself. You never know what goodness you can trigger in people, even if you *are* doing electronic treatments of of classic rock songs.
Someday, I'll take it seriously. You just wait, if you can stand it.
When I practice piano on my own upright, hacking through the some elementary piece, I can't help but wish I had taken those lessons back when I was five. I talked to my mother about it and apparently she recently saw our piano teacher at the grocery store and told the teacher that I did come to terms with music and that I play piano, and guitar, etc. The teacher was not surprised.