Can you describe your music for readers who may not have heard? My music includes such an eclectic mix of genres, this question provokes a rather difficult answer... so maybe that's the answer... "eclectic". It's also very "fiddle" oriented, but with emphasis on improvisation and arranging. More "violinistic" rock sounds are also favored within my recording projects and live shows. My goal, as an artist, is to demonstrate anything and everything possible on the instrument, and do so in a musical way.
What’s in your CD player now? (up to five CDs, with artist name and title of CD, along with a brief sentence or two explaining why you like it enough to be in rotation)
As I'm the only sound engineer/producer here at the studio, I have no choice but to constantly review my own music, so that is what is in my CD player at the moment. For long drives, my collection is sprinkled with as much diversity as that which I create, though, more often than not, as the iPod is set to "shuffle", I seem to favor much in the way of a cappella vocal music. Bobby McFerrin's first album, for example, "The Voice", features live performances from different stages throughout the world, and is one of my favorites ever. That album, as a matter of fact, has been more of an inspiration toward creating my own music than perhaps anything else. The idea of combining percussion, bass lines, harmonic content, AND the melody, using only his voice and a microphone... that really appealed to me. I have since emulated exactly that on the violin, and they are those efforts which have been received best by my own fans via viral videos. Other vocal groups like Take 6, The King's Singers, and Max Q (barbershop quartet) are heard more often than anything else within my collection.
Steeley Span - Below the Salt - One of the first folk bands to include electricity and distortion, this band was revolutionary to my ears because of the obvious fusion going on (folk meets hard-ass rock).
Itzhak Perlman - Encores (The greatest violinist alive performs the most difficult showpieces on the violin.)
Anything and everything by Michael Jackson. If any human can get past whatever society (mainstream media) has placed into our brains regarding judgement on the late star's personal life, we're left with undeniably great music, created, produced, and performed by the very best and biggest names in the music industry. MJ was, without question, the greatest performer to have ever walked the face of the earth. It's unfortunate, in my opinion, that the overlying credibility of the man's music has been so tarnished by journalistic mediocrity. The music and the general message he brought into the world was one which did indeed leave it "a better place".
Chick Corea - Elektric Band
Alison Krauss & Union Station - Live (Her voice melts me.)
Most embarrassing CD or song in your music player? Tubby the Tuba, maybe? It's an educational story for children to help introduce the instruments and sections of a complete orchestra, and I still can't turn that off. As a child, I would listen to it with incredulousness. As each year would pass while developing on the violin, the story would take on entirely new meaning! It was a constant and consistent evolution as I began to realize, in the real world, those "personalities" which generally exist behind each instrument and/or section of the orchestra, and then associate those experiences back to the story with new understanding. It's all very personal, really. lol
First song you ever learned to play really well on violin? Praeludium and Allegro, by Fritz Kreisler - I was nine years old when I first began to perform that piece, and realized very quickly the effect virtuosic violin playing would have upon audiences.
What’s on your bucket list of things to do before you die? I would like to establish and perform a show on the Vegas strip which includes elements of magic and illusion while still focused mainly on the music. That's an idea which has already worked successfully in Branson, MO and remains the one show Vegas is still without. I would also like to perform live and in sync with the fountain at the Bellagio Hotel.
What’s the brokest/poorest you’ve ever been? I used to earn my living at Suburban Station in Philadelphia, PA. I treated it like a job, and would show up at 6:30am each day to perform for passers-by as they threw change into the violin case. But, and turning misfortune into opportunity, I would get bored with hearing just the solo violin, and begin to inject other musical elements into the arrangements. My ears wanted to hear more instruments accompanying what I was playing, so how does that saying go? "Out of necessity comes invention." In the subway station was born a new way of playing the violin.
What’s the best thing you ever had to let go of? Pride. Working under the direction of guitarist, Steve Vai, demanded a new degree of "humble" I had not experienced until then.
Worst TV commercial ever? Those ads for pharmaceuticals which spend more time explaining the "side-effects" of the drug. Those are not the side-effects. Those are the effects. On this subject, it has always been on my mind as to how much money was paid to whomever wrote the jingle for the Mennen deodorant ad. Three notes... perfectly placed... and catchy? You're singing it right now. "Byyyyyy... Mennen". There ya go. That'll be $400,000. lol
Where in San Diego do you always take out of town guests? I moved to San Diego from Philadelphia, and nothing really changed for me besides the weather. I spilled out of the airplane with a suitcase and a fiddle, and made my way to the Gaslamp district, right there on 5th Avenue. I put on my old beat-up tuxedo, and began playing up and down the street, until finally, a gentleman invited me to come on into his restaurant (Asti Italian cuisine) whenever I wanted, to perform as a strolling violinist from table to table. I played for dinner and tips. That's such an exciting part of the city... I feel like anyone who visits San Diego should get a fair dose of that part of town. Another "must do" in San Diego is to venture on out for a day at Ocean Beach... just to feel that hippie vibe and enjoy the sunshine. I would play there too and one night, ended up on local television while the weatherman did his live location report.
Three things we don’t know about you?
1) I have three brothers (Wallace, Jason, and Zachary) who are all accomplished violinists employed with major orchestras in the United States. We began our careers performing together.
2) I'm an avid drummer.
3) I'm a neat-freak... almost OCD. In my youth, friends would come over to visit, and rearrange... let's say for example, the toiletries in the bathroom. Sometimes they would just take one item and move it slightly out of position, just to irritate me. It worked! That does irritate me! Oddly, I do not apply that same kind of care and/or organization to my music... the music just happens, and THEN I deal with it.