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, served as Director of Music at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation from 2011 to 2017, and currently serve as Contemporary Band Director at the same congregation.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lasts and Firsts

This has been a stressful week. I'm gearing up for a move, which is stressful enough. On top of that, my work schedule has been busier than usual, I've had to complete some rush music engraving jobs, and I have a show tomorrow night (the night before my move-in date).

I was stressed out at the beginning of the week, but I've since mellowed. I finished the last of my rush jobs this morning, I only have a few more things to pack, and I'm ready for my show. I'll pack up my office equipment tomorrow afternoon, play my gig in the evening, and then I'll be ready for the movers on Sunday.

This has been a week of "lasts"…the last laundry day in the old place, the last practice session, the last workout, the last nap, the last breakfast. These are all little things, but each "last" moves me closer to the big move-in day. Even as I look forward to living in the new apartment and setting up a home teaching studio, I'm savoring all of the "lasts."

And, of course, I'm looking forward to the "firsts"…the first laundry day, the first walk in the new neighborhood, the first practice session. Once the studio is set up, I'll look forward to my first rehearsal, teaching my first new student, and writing my first song in the new digs.

Here are photos of some empty rooms that will soon be filled with music.

This will be my teaching studio and music engraving office.
My guitars, amps, and keyboard will live here.
Plenty of storage in the garage, plus a
washer/dryer. I'll move most of these boxes
upstairs after the furniture is in place. I'll keep a
lot of musical equipment down here for
an easy load-in before gigs.

The bedroom/workout area. Not much will go in here.
Just a bed, a dresser, and a stationary bike.
Yet more storage. I actually have a place to store
my bicycle without tripping over it!
My dad made that tiny wooden chair for me
when I was 5 or 6. I'll use this cute little chair
for very young students.

I love this deck! I definitely need to get some
deck furniture. Perfect for outdoor guitar picking.
Parents may want to wait out here when the weather's nice.
The parents' waiting room. I'll also fill this room
with books and will eventually add a pull-out
love seat for house guests.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

To Run or Not to Run

Around this time last year, I ran my first half marathon. About a month after the race, I developed an overuse knee injury. It was a classic case of too much, too soon. I had to stop running for a while. I walked for a couple months, tried running again, found that my knee still hurt, and then had to stop walking, too. I stopped exercising and starting bingeing again. By the time the holidays were over, I had gained 58 pounds. I've currently lost 33 of those 58 pounds, and I'm well on my way to reaching a healthy weight again. I've been pedaling a stationary bike, and lately I've been walking 2-3 times per week.

The main thing that triggered my weight gain (or my main excuse, at least) was being unable to run. I had become obsessed with running, and no other exercise would do. When I had to stop, it felt like the bottom dropped out. Rather than turn to another exercise, something flipped in my brain. Throughout most of my life, I've turned to food when stressed or depressed, and that's exactly what I did after I injured myself.

I still plan to run again, but I'm going to wait until I've reached my target weight before giving it another shot. This will allow extra time for my knee to recover, and running at a healthy weight will reduce stress on my joints. Rather than run 4-5 times a week like before, I plan on running 3 times a week, cycling 3 times a week, and resting one day. When I run, I'll mix walking and running.

There's a social website called Daily Mile, which was created for fitness buffs. It provides useful tools for keeping track of your workouts, and just like other social websites, you can find friends for mutual support. Unlike most of my Facebook friends, my friends on Daily Mile are actually interested in my workouts.

I'm a little disturbed by the number of runners on Daily Mile who are pushing through injuries. I see myself in them…amateur runners who are doing too much, too soon. While I understand their desire to run, I wish some of them would take it easy, build their distance more gradually, avoid obsessing about their pace, and cross train. I want to stress that there's nothing wrong with running, but if you overdo it, you're going to pay the price. I still have aspirations to run a marathon one day, and possibly even an ultramarathon. I'm one of those oddballs who loves propelling himself for long distances, but I have finally accepted the fact that this is something that I have to build up gradually.

If, despite all my precautions, I continue to have difficulty with my knee, then I'm prepared to discontinue running. I'll bike, walk, and work out with weights. Although I truly love running, my main goal is to be as healthy as I can be. If that means never running another step, I'll be okay with that…as long as I can fit into my skinny jeans!

Friday, March 9, 2012

New Digs

In less than a month, I'll be moving. Normally, I detest moving, but this time I'm excited about it. About 3 1/2 years ago, I moved from a two-bedroom house to a basement studio apartment. One of the reasons I moved was to live in Decatur, GA, where I often found myself playing rehearsals or gigs. Mostly, though, I needed to relocate because I was in a terrible financial hole, and I needed to find a smaller place.

I like the little studio apartment where I'm living now, and it's been a good situation. It's a basement apartment attached to a house. My landlady, Sue, is a musician, and so are her two kids. We've had a good relationship, and I've enjoyed living here.

Last week, Sue told me that her college age son is going to move into my apartment in less than three months. (We've had a relaxed, monthly lease, with the agreement that if I want to move out, or if she needs me to move out, we give each other a couple months'  notice.) I surprised myself with my lack of surprise. For the last several months, I had been considering finding a bigger place to live. When Sue gave me the news, I immediately felt invigorated and eager for a change, like the universe was letting me know that now is the time to move on.

I soon had several leads, and within a week, I found a nice little carriage house apartment only 15 minutes away from where I am now. It's small, but it's larger than my studio apartment, and it'll be nice to have more than one room. I'll have a bedroom, living room, an office, and a deck with a view of a wooded area and my new neighbor's chihuahua. The garage that the carriage house sits on is all mine to use. It has a washer/dryer and plenty of storage space. I'll keep a lot of my musical equipment in the garage for an easy load when I have gigs, and I plan on using the rest of the garage as a fitness room.

I'm especially excited about using the new place as a private teaching studio. I currently teach a handful of guitar students, driving to most of my students' homes. My current apartment isn't suitable for giving lessons to younger people, and I'm not interested in teaching in a music store. I'm looking forward to hanging out my shingle and teaching in the office space while parents wait in the living room.

I just signed the lease, and I move on April 1st.

I created a virtual tour of my studio apartment about three years ago. I'm looking forward to getting settled and posting a tour of the new place in the near future.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Airport Mode

Last night, I played a pleasant gig. It was a two-hour solo job at a birthday party for a friend from church. I enjoy playing with my bands, Tea for Two and InTown Band, but sometimes it's pleasant to play a simple solo job. Set-up is a breeze, and I can meander through my song list as I please. There were plenty of church friends at the party, so even though it was your standard background gig, more people were paying attention to the music than usual. There was plenty of good food, and there were two friendly cats, which is always a bonus.

The one strange moment came when I discovered a surprise "feature" on my iPhone.

Although I mainly played guitar arrangements and attempted to channel Frank Sinatra, I used backing tracks on a handful of instrumentals to rest my hand. I record all my backing tracks myself. It's an investment of time and effort, but it's fun, and the finished product is a backing track specifically tailored for my needs. And because I have all the files, I have complete freedom to tweak these tracks in the future.

Once I'm finished creating a backing track, I load it on my iPhone, which becomes my "band in a pocket." I just hook the iPhone up to my amp, and I'm ready to go.

When I play a gig, I always make sure to set my iPhone to vibrate only. It's annoying to have someone else's phone start ringing when you're performing. It's REALLY annoying when it's your own phone, and I have a particularly obnoxious ringtone. I've included a short YouTube clip for your enjoyment.

Little did I know that if you hook your iPhone up to an amp, the ringtone will broadcast through the amp, even if you have it set on vibrate. Just before my break, my phone started ringing. My first reaction was surprise that someone else used the same annoying ringtone. My second reaction was to glance down at my phone and realize it was my phone, blasting through my amp. When there are distractions, you usually want to keep playing, but not this time! I quickly pawed at my phone to turn it off, only to accidentally swipe the front and answer the call. Through my amp, I could hear someone saying "Hello? Hello?"

Fortunately, this teachable moment occurred in a roomful of friends. Lesson learned. If the iPhone is plugged into the amp, it's airport mode from now on.