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.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Mighty Fine Aquarium Gig

I enjoy background music gigs. You put on a tie, play some relaxing music while folks mingle, collect a check, and go home. On a typical background gig, a few people may come up to you during the evening and compliment you, but that's usually about it. You play and sing your best, but you fly under the radar.

Last Tuesday's background gig at the Georgia Aquarium was anything but typical. A medical information technology group, AHIMA, rented out the entire building for the night. In one room was a DJ and an arial group, there was a string quartet in the lobby, and I had the good fortune to be performing solo next to the giant tank near the Ocean Voyager exhibit.

My area was where people would come to get away from all the noise of the event and just relax. The room was so peaceful, with whale sharks, mantas, and other big fish swimming lazily. During most background gigs, you might get an appreciative nod from time to time, but there is no applause. I was quite surprised when people started applauding for me. It wasn't like it was a show.  Not everyone applauded, and the guests didn't stop what they were doing just to listen to me, but it was nice to have a little bit of recognition throughout the evening.

As I look back on that wonderful gig, there were a few highlights:

  • Arriving early enough to see some exhibits after setting up my equipment. I'll bet that not many people get to walk in the Ocean Voyager tunnel alone!
  • Seeing the whale sharks for the first time.
  • Warming up while watching the fish swim by.
  • Seeing someone cry while I sang Over the Rainbow – assuming that those were happy tears.
  • Hearing a mother and her two grown daughters sing along with Dream a Little Dream of Me. After I thanked them for singing, the mother told me that she sang this song to her daughters when they were babies, and now one of the daughters sings it to her new baby.

As far as background gigs go, it doesn't get much better than this. On top of everything else, I made a positive impression and established good rapport with the event planning company who hired me. They told me they want to make me one of their "go to" musicians. Sounds good to me! They hired me for another gig at the Georgia Aquarium in January. I'm crossing my fingers that they put me in front of the Ocean Voyager tank again!

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