About Me

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Atlanta, GA, United States
When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995 and have been music director at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation since 2011.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Background Music

Fame! Stardom! Celebrity! Crazy money! Mansions! Summer vacation homes! Groupies! Roadies! VIP access! Lucrative endorsements! An entourage of bootlickers and ass kissers! Your own reality show! If you're a background musician, none of this and more can be yours. Fortunately, I don't need any of this. Scratch that. I wouldn't mind extra cash. Groupies are creepy. My brother had to deal with groupies when he was a performer at 6 Flags, and that weirdness would only be magnified if I were to gain a certain amount of fame. So, no groupies, but a girlfriend sure would be nice.

I'll have to admit that I'd like some extra money, but I don't need the rest. I am perfectly content to sit in the corner at a reception or a restaurant, playing and singing my favorite music. To many (not all) of today's stars, music appears to be a means to an end…usually money and fame. Of course I like to be paid for my time, and I deserve it, but my main reward is the simple act of making music.

My fondness for playing background music probably has a lot to do with my personality: introverted, shy, and solitary. More of my personality and oddball humor comes out when I'm with close friends or family, but I avoid large groups. Parties? Forget it. Unless I'm the hired musician, I don't go to parties. On the rare occasion that I'm convinced to attend a party, I usually find a nice corner and try to blend in with the furniture. I'm always the first to leave.

Sometimes I joke about a background music job as a musical wallpaper gig, or an MTBI gig (music to be ignored). The truth is that I really enjoy playing background music. One of my main goals in life is to make the space around me a more pleasant place to be. It's too overwhelming to think about changing the world, but when I play or sing, I can change the atmosphere of a room.

Imagine you are sitting in the corner of a room with people milling about, chatting, and checking out the buffet table. You tune your guitar, strike a chord, and start playing. The mood instantly changes. Your music intermingles with the conversations, calming the guests and lowering their voices. Someone stops to listen, because you're playing a favorite song that triggers a happy memory. A child dances. When your time is up, you pack up your gear, collect your check, and go home. In the meantime, you've made your little piece of the world just a little better simply by sitting in the corner and offering up your music.

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