Pre-histroy #1 - My favorite toy at 3. I actually remember it. I don't think it really played, but I remember I could dink around with it for hours. Pretty amazing when you consider the attention span of your average 3 year old. So why did I not end up a fiddler?
Pre-history #2 - This old wreck with 2 or 3 rusty strings and a big hole stove in the back was something I just couldn't wait to get my hands on when we'd go down to my mom's folks' place in the Ozarks. They couldn't hardly pry it out of my itty-bitty hands!
Pre-history #3 - This turned up when my sister and I were going thru old photos after our mother passed away. I didn't remember it at all. Margin says "Murray Hill, N.J. 1956" which made me 4 years old. That there is as 1950s post-war middle-class USA as it gets, folks. I am a "mickey-mouse" guitar player to this day.
Ancient History #1 - Promo photo of the Kokomo Bros, a "newgrass" band based out of West Lafayette, Indiana. Mid-1970s. The band was my first serious bass gig. L-R: Tim Moody (R.I.P.), Tom Adler, Dan Vanada, yers truly - with 1961 Fender Jazz bass that I WISH I still had!
Ancient History #2 - Proof positive of my misspent youth. No recollection of the photographer, the year, the gig, or what. Playing the '61 Fender Jazz. Might have been The Hummingbird (Indianapolis, IN) or a Chicago club with the Kokomo Bros... mid-to-late '70s.
Ancient History #3 - No idea where, when, or by whom. Early '80s ? Drums suggest a blues band I did a stint with. But could be some pick-up band gig. Why am I playing a Fender Precision bass? I certainly never owned one. Kids, see the result of that lifestyle when you get old ??!!
Ancient History #4 - My Dad (R.I.P.) shot this at the party after my first wedding at which the Kokomo Bros showed up and we played Bluegrass for the gathering. It was about 99 F. in the shade that day. Man oh man, I wish I still had that Music Man bass!!
Ancient History #5 - "Codrak" Blues Band, circa '79-80. Odd name, maybe Celtic? Front man (vanilla Tele) was a wild Irishman fondly called Denny "So Much Beer So Little Time" Murphy, or just "Murph" (from the noises he'd make when passed out after a gig).
Ancient History #6 - One of various anonymous bands during the '80s. Maybe a country band (see banjo!) Maybe some freebie wedding gig while band was still in rehearsals. Never dressed like that for any REAL gig! I see I still owned the '61 Jazz bass - sigh.
Ancient History #7 - On-again-off-again trio, Lafayette, Indiana, late 80s. We all had had high road mileage & no desire to travel. Hence our name "The Stationary Willburys". L-R: Dennis "Everything is a percussion instrument" Leas, Meself, Larry "Cool Hand" Smeyak.
Ancient History #8 - An experimental trio with Lafayette, IN farmer and musician Kenn (2 Ns) Clark and his guitarist pal "Slick" whose real name I never knew. It was about 105 F. that day. I think that was my first "good" Hawaiian shirt. Luv them shades!
Ancient History #9 - Promo pic for my first solo acoustic show, circa 1989.
Ancient History #10 - Used to play the bar of a local spot called The Cork & Cleaver in West Lafayette, Indiana. It attracted Purdue faculty and admin types, about my age. Not smoky, nice bunch of folks hanging out. I remember it fondly.
Ancient History #11 - Cork & Cleaver, W. Lafayatte, Idiana, late 80s. Good friend Larry Smeyak often sat in and played tasty lead guitar. My favorite banjo "The Mutt" was a gift from Larry. As you can see, we had some fun playin' "The Cork".
Recent History #1 - Recent History = after moving to St. Petersburg. After daughter #2 got a job at the now former expat hangout "The City Bar", the owner invited me to play for a July 4 bash. To my surprise, the banjo went over great with a mainly college age crowd. Maybe it was the beer, but who cares? Such was my humble debut in Saint Petersburg after many years not performing.
Recent History #2 - Lounge gig at the upscale Hotel Angleterre, St. Petersburg. I filled-in for jazz pianist/singer Lynn Hilton, a good friend doing the international circuit, who got dragged to a festival in Moscow. I regurgitated old Cork & Cleaver stuff, and it was well received. I still knew how to do lounge gigs... but this was my first in a 5-star hotel!
Recent History #3 - Borsalino lounge in the Hotel Angleterre had a baby grand. So I got to dust off some of my old conservatory piano class skills and make like Billy Joel. Like ridin' a bicycle - it all came back.
Recent History #4 - In Russia, you can't get by ignoring your birthday. People will call you up a 6 a.m. to be the first to congratulate you "s'dnyom rozshdenya". Then there has to be a party. Well, I've had a somewhat different way of celebrating... see next photo.
Recent History #5 - On birthdays I'd to book the back room at some dive - er -PUB - order munchies, invite friends, colleagues, and strangers to party down while I play live acoustic tunes. They have fun, I have fun. My 55th: I inflict banjo on the now-defunct City Bar - a place where Russia-West relations were always at their best. I miss those days.
Recent History #6 - After City Bar died, it was back to my cats. Then The Other Side came along, another east-meets-west joint. While it lasted I played some nights there. When it died I went back to playing for cats again, as other clubs here are all pigeon-holed into narrow genres I don't fit into.
Recent History #7 - I meant it in the previous caption. My best audience was our pure "Felis Peterburgis Disposalfacilatatus" (i.e. Leningrad Garbage Cat). Rescued as a kitten from atop a pile of broken glass by a trash skip. She was a refined lady and ideal audience for 18 years.
Recent History #8 - Fast forward to summer 2010. I got to fill in on bass with Pete "Dr. Banjo" Wernick's bluegrass trio at the first ever bluegrass festival in Russia, which I helped the US Consulate to organize in better times. Performing here at the Vologda State Museum, Vologda Russia.