I was born in Claremont, NH to wonderful parents. 1 of 3 boys, we were all expected to find ways to entertain ourselves in our free time. Much of my childhood was spent roaming the neighborhood with my friends and finding new and exciting ways to jump our bikes off of things.
In 3rd grade, I discovered my father’s record player. He’s quite an audiophile and had the whole house wired with speakers! I would cue up Billy Joel’s Glass Houses and then run down into the basement to rock out with a matchbox race car track pretending I was in the band. Apparently, it was something to see! To this day my favorite Billy Joel song is “Close to the Borderline” just like it was then.
As the years past, Billy Joel gave way to heavier strands of music. Motely Crue, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, and bands like D.R.I began to find their way into my stereo. In 8th Grade, I got my first electric guitar and immediately formed a band with my friends. Even though we could barely play (I was 6months old on the guitar), we recorded 10 original songs using a Reel to Reel Tape Recorder and two mics that belong to our fathers. I still have that tape, converted to Digital, and periodically listen to it to remind myself where I come from.
In High School, the band became very serious. Rehearsing 4 nights a week, recording a real studio album, getting played on the radio, and playing any gig we could. Around the same time I started taking Guitar lessons for the first time (around 2 years old on the guitar). I had a pretty good idea how to play metal so I wanted to learn to play Classical Guitar and read music. I instantly loved the tone and feel of the strings. The gentle peaceful quality of the sound I could create became a refuge from all the noise in the world. The right hand finger technique would inform all of my music from then on.
In high school I met this Beautiful Woman, fell in love, and never looked back. If there is such a thing as soul mates then I found mine. Two of the hardest years of my life were spent at Ithaca College (my Freshman and Senior Years) when she wasn’t at Elmira so we could visit.
Like many bands, my high school group disbanded as we made our we into the wider world. I went on to Ithaca College to study music and become a music teacher. Being exposed to the entire gamut of Western Music and learning from incredible artists helped form the music educator that I am today. And since my wife was studying art and Eastern philosophy at Elmira, we spent many weekends in museums and used bookshops. I still wrote tons of songs, classical guitar compositions, and formed a jazz trio but never pursued publication or gigging. Mostly, I worked very hard, studied with awesome musicians, and spent many hours in the practice rooms and the Library honing my playing and teaching chops.
After Graduation, I was hired to teach 6th Grade Chorus, General Music, and a Music Composition elective (a class where kids formed bands and wrote songs) at Frances C. Richmond Middle school in Hanover, NH. This position grew in a few short years to 4 Choruses, 2 Concert bands, a Jazz band, Guitar program, and General music. It is an incredible community of educators who are passionate about kids and the craft of teaching. So, unlike many aspiring songwriters and composers, I like my day job and play gigs, compose, write songs, and release albums in the nooks and crannies of time and try to enjoy every minute of it.
Shortly after starting at RMS, We got married and naturally, children followed. In June of 2005, my oldest daughter became very ill will Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) from an E-Coli infection. We spent a month at Maine Med Hospital while she lost major bodily functions and went through transfusions and dialysis. Eventually, she recovered but watching your child become so sick that you fear you will lose her changes you. I no longer felt safe in the world. It was shortly after that Yoga came into my life.
My wife was introduced to the Yoga practice in College and practiced on and off until our daughter became sick. Afterwards, she began taking classes and practicing with a renewed vigor, enrolled in a teacher training and became a yoga teacher. It was her way of healing and in many ways it saved me as well. When we came home from the hospital, I sank pretty low. I don’t remember much of that school year, and started playing metal and recording songs again as a way to deal with my emotions. I even started up the old band again. We were knee deep into an album when all of that fell apart. During all of this, I would practice Yoga but was really only in it for the physical benefits. It wasn’t until my wife came home and asked if I would help her lead a Kirtan that I really started coming out of the dark.
That was the birth of Pure Kirtan. Through the practice of call and response singing of the names of the divine, I began to feel lighter and more joyous. As our name grew we found ourselves playing in Yoga studios all around NH and VT and I discovered that I Loved the Energy of the Community. I was writing melodies and using my classical guitar and (believe it or not) my metal chops to create accompaniments that were groovy enough to dance do and soulful enough to make people cry. I had never experienced music in this way. It was completely new and nothing like what I was teaching in school or was taught. The power of vibration and intention are so strong that I always feel incredible after Kirtan and can’t imagine my life without the practice. It is because of how it saved me that I share it with all of you.
A few months after Pure Kirtan formed, my wife asked me if I would play solo guitar in her Yoga Classes. It has changed my playing forever. Sculpting the music around the movements and the breath of class informs the way I phrase a melody. Rhythm, tempo, pulse have become Fluid. Like a heart beat that will quicken and slow depending on the demands of the body, my music mirrors that experience. Compositions are no longer walled in by Form arbitrary to a page but are living and breathing with the room. The concept of space and tonality shift to heighten your movement or bring you to a deep state of relaxation. For me, playing is my spiritual practice and in that state of bliss, I share my truest self.
On these pages I will give you a window into my creative process and hopefully provide some useful insights on recording, songwriting, teaching, and music. I look forward to seeing you on the Path.