I often get asked: “How long have you been playing guitar, and where and with whom have you performed with?”
I was 12 years old when I had my first lesson on Long Island with a great guitarist and teacher Bill Reoch. Bill started me treading music notation immediately. This was before guitar “tabs” were around. I talk about that on my lesson technique page.
I think I got pretty good fast with reading and playing. They both help each other immensely. I started a group at 14 yr. old and before you knew it, we were playing high school dances. A couple of years later at age 16, I was playing with older musicians in bars and clubs on the Long Island scene. Drinking age was 18 then! Lots of stories about that!
My dear friend, Dean Krause suggested I go to Berklee College of Music in Boston. He was already into his 1st semester and said it was heaven. I wound up going and loved it.
One summer, a few of us From Berklee went to Amsterdam, Holland. Got off the plane with $200 each and a roundtrip ticket. That was supposed to last the entire summer! We asked to play at these “coffee” houses for food. That turned out well and we lasted the whole summer. I loved Holland so much I went back after Berklee and stayed there 4 years ! Played in Jazz bands and an R&B band. We traveled all over Holland and had an album out. We were like stars! Loved it. We also played in Germany and on American Army and Nato bases there, entertaining the troops.
Came back to the states in ’76 and landed a show called “Let My People come.” It was first at the village gate the went to Broadway. We did the San Francisco show as well.
In ’77 I met Eddie Jacobs, a well known R&B singer and band leader. He was with Wilson Picket for years the with the Shirelles, Al Kooper, Joey Dee, Joe Tex, etc.
He had a gig to go to Iran with Wilson Picket, (yes, that Iran). We rehearsed with Wilson. He backed out at the last minute, we went anyway with a 13 piece soul review band: 4 horns, congas, guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and 4 female vocalists. Iran was not quite ready for us. We had a difficult time and a story that can be made into a movie!!
In ’78 I started to play with the great vocal group The Manhattans. They did: “Lets Kiss and Say Goodbye, You Are My Shining Star.” We toured all over the country, including tours with Mr. James Brown himself and another with Kool and the Gang. Now there are WAY to many stories about those years to write.
I lived in Florida for most of the 1980’s as a bandleader in the Clubdate business. We did Industrials for major corporations such as Bank of America, American Express, Price Waterhouse with the Glen Burton Orchestras, originally from New York. I was called to work in a 5 piece dance band at the Browns Hotel in Loch Sheldrake (say that 5 times fast!). The gig was from July 4th to Labor Day weekend. I also got to do “augments” for most of the big acts that came in, meaning I got extra work to play for acts like: Rita Moreno, Bobby Vinton, Al Martino, Jerry Vale, Jerry Lewis and many more.
I also played the augments at the Villa Roma, another huge hotel in the area. Did that for about 6 summers in a row. What a great experience to read a major show with an orchestra of 17+ musicians.
To date, I do teach a lot privately and play in the New York metro area.