I want to make art that inspires others to make their art. I want to make sculptures that sing.
Guitar making is really a perfect combination of all the jobs and interests I’ve had throughout my life. I was born into music, literally. My mom was a modern dancer and my dad a bass player in a rock band. I was born at home which was the band’s house and in between contractions the doctor was jamming with the band.
I played guitar in bands all though high school and even got to play the legendary Wetlands in NYC with my Allman Brothers cover band Blues Adix. After graduating I moved out to LA to go to the Musicians Institute to continue studying guitar. While I was there Andy Brauer gave a lecture on how to set up your instrument. Something clicked and I went to his shop and asked for an apprenticeship which ended up becoming a full time gig for over 2 years. Brauer Studio Rentals was where every guitarist who came to LA to record would rent guitars and amps from. It was a museum of incredible instruments and my main job was to make sure that every one of them was in perfect playable condition when they went out and came back in. I’d also make deliveries which meant that I got to go to hundreds of studios in LA and bring guitars to people like Bonnie Raitt, Prince, Trey Anastasio, and so many huge names that I can’t even remember any more. For almost a year I’d go visit John Fogerty every week and bring him a different selection of guitars and amps. I got in an accident making a delivery to Peter Frampton. I would also set up session player’s guitar rigs, people like Steve Lukather, Dean Parks and Tim Pierce. Through this job I was handling amazing guitars daily and really getting a feel for what I liked to hear and hold.
Eventually I got burned out on LA went to live in Laguna Beach where I started sitting in with reggae bands full of serious players, guys who played with Steel Pulse, Ben Harper, Pato Banton, etc. However I still didn’t feel like I was where I wanted to be and after hitchhiking around East and Southern Africa for 6 months I landed in Boulder, CO. Pretty soon I was backing up a singer songwriter friend there. We were getting opening spots for bands like The Samples and The Band. At the same time I joined a reggae band, Roots Revolt. Roots Revolt got big in Boulder fast and we were selling out our own shows and opening up for all the reggae legends that passed through, Burning Spear, Culture, Gregory Isaacs, Third World, etc. We joined Michael Franti and Spearhead for their first tour through Colorado, The String Cheese Incident opened for us, we toured Hawaii, it was a great band but we couldn’t hold it together and split up. When Roots Revolt dissolved another bandmate and I started taking the music in a different direction, more electronic but by playing and recording live instruments and then manipulating them digitally. Where we were trying to go was still pretty new back then and because of that it was a really exciting time. We called ourselves Heavyweight Dub Champion. Because of our history with Roots Revolt we were given our first gig opening up for the absolute legend Lee Perry backed by Mad Professor. It took off from there, opening for folks like Tricky, Steel Pulse, DJ Spooky, many reggae legends as well as headlining our own shows and throwing our own events. Throughout this I was living in a log cabin at 9000 feet with no running water and finding and creating jobs to get by. I had a line of wooden and silver jewelry, worked as a welder, worked for a djembe drum builder and had various carpentry jobs.
We felt we needed to go to the west coast to grow so we relocated to San Francisco. It was a good move for the band and we started playing and headlining 100s of shows and festivals up and down the coast, and in Canada and Europe. Playing in venues and festivals like The Fillmore West, Red Rocks Amphitheater, Reggae On The River and Les Eurockeennes. We played on stages with people like Ziggy, Stephen and Damien Marley, Marilyn Manson, Wu-Tang Clan, Sonic Youth, Amon Tobin, Bassnectar, Glitch Mob and KRS-One. During this time I also worked as a trim carpenter for a high-end company in the Bay area whose clients included bank presidents, Google execs and rock stars. This job really helped to refine my carpentry skills.
In 2010 my wife, cats and I left the city and moved to the high desert of Taos, NM. I found work with a custom furniture builder and at some point, with access to a fully equipped shop, I realized that I could try to build an acoustic guitar. I bought a book and read everything I could off the internet. It was complicated but I ended up with a guitar. Right around that time David Lindley was in town and I caught up with him before his show and asked if he’d try out my guitar and give me some advice. He played it for a bit and kept saying this is a great guitar. He asked if I was selling it and I said I hadn’t thought about it yet because it was my first and he said something like “Whoa, you’ve made a monster guitar, don’t change a thing”. He gave me the confidence to go on and build my second. I entered my second guitar into the Taos Fall Arts Festival and it ended up winning Best In Show. I had known instantly that guitar building was something that I wanted to do, these two experiences made me feel like I was on the right path and that I should really go for it.
It’s an amazing feeling to take raw lumber and over time shape it into something that has a voice and is an amplifier for someone else’s expression. To be able to do it while under this Wide Sky that is an ever evolving canvas is incredible.