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.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Improv at Act3

A couple weeks ago, I led a music service centered around musical improvisation. This evening, I had to put my money where my mouth was when I played for an improv show at Act3 Productions.

Tonight's show was similar to Whose Line Is It Anyway. The "band" was Steve Weikle on sax and yours truly on guitar. We played a few numbers before and after the show, and we played for a couple of the musical games. One was pretty simple for us. The game was called "Half Life." The actors improvised a one-minute scene while we played background music. Then they were supposed to act out the same scene in 30 seconds, then 15, and eventually 5 seconds while we played faster and faster.

The other game, Greatest Hits, had me sweating a little bit. If you haven't seen this game, the audience comes up with someone that people usually don't write songs about. Tonight, it was the dentist. Then two actors pretend they're doing a "greatest hits" commercial for a compilation album (Songs of the Dentist). They name a musical style, and we come up with an accompaniment while two other actors make up a song.

I admit that I almost chickened out of the gig because of this game. I've seen Whose Line Is It Anyway, and those backing musicians can play anything. They're amazing! When I learned about this game, my first reaction was to think that I was a one trick pony…I can play jazz pretty well, but not much else. Steve reassured me, telling me that we could make up a list of styles to choose from so that the actors didn't stump us with something completely out of the ballpark. I started making a list of styles I could fake my way through, including blues, bossa nova, polka, folk ballad, Cajun, funk, reggae, and a few others I don't remember now. This helped me realize that I'm not the one trick pony that I thought I was. I've learned other styles mainly through playing with InTown Band and by performing musicals at Act3 Productions.

The game was a lot of fun. In fact, the entire evening was a blast. Those young performers are really talented! Steve and I received lots of positive comments, and Jesse, who led the show, told us his big idea, which is to bring in a few more musicians and improvise an entire musical! After tonight's experience, I'm up for anything!

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