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Why Do I Do This, Anyway?

Good question. But, I think the question needs a two part answer centered on Influences and values. Let's talk about influences first.

The Legendary Buddy Holly

Good old authentic guitar driven power pop has its roots in the blues. We should probably blame Elvis Presley for moving from Country and Blues into Rock'n'Roll and making it very popular with a predominately white audience. It's probably better to say Elivs was so influential because he embodied both black and white music in the 1950's. But no one person invented it. No one person started rock 'n' roll. It was a black and white alloy of Fats Domino, Lloyd Price, Ike Turner, Hank Williams, Joe Turner, Louis Jordan, Ray Charles, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Buddy Holly - and Elvis Presley. Presley himself never claimed to have invented rock 'n' roll. But he was no doubt the king. Elvis loved music, but could not read sheet music because he learned to play by ear at an early age in the projects.

In 1955, after Buddy Holly heard Elivs, he switched from country to Rock'n'Roll the next day. Buddy's influence as a guitar driven power pop artist really started in 1956, after he released "That'll Be The Day". You can hear Elvis's influence in Buddy's vocal approach. Even though Buddy tragically died in 1959 at the age of 22, his music didn't die, as proclaimed by Don McLain's, "American Pie." Actually, Buddy's music grew. I heard Buddy's "Peggy Sue" when I was a child on my mom's portable phonograph. And I couldn't tell you what Lubbock, Texas was. (We'll talk about Elvis's influence on ZZTop and how they broke out of the blues scene some other time.)

Today though, let's just suggest guitar was the staple instrument of Rock'n'Roll, with some piano thrown in. I say that because guitars and especially electric guitars were more portable than pianos. And with amplification coming out in the 1930's, guitar caught on quickly in the roughly twenty years that electric amplifiers where invented. And that, more or less, is where my journey to add a body of work to the art form began.

'56 Danelectro you'll hear on Bait & Switch

My mom had a Danelectro guitar and a Fender Concert Silverface amp. She used to plug in and sing when I was a boy in our little farm house in New Jersey. Green, Green Grass of Home, a song Elvis used to cover originally recorded by Porter Wagoner, was one of her favorites. My dad would plug in once in a while and play some Ventures. One of my favorites he'd play was "Walk Don't Run". I wouldn't say my family was exceptionally musical, but my family loved and supported music. There were many weekends when my mom or dad would fire up the stereo and drop album after album on the record player stack. I still have the guitar, pictured to the right.

And over time, the amp got sold and the guitar fell into disrepair in the annex connected to hour house by a breezeway. Eventually, we sold the house and moved pretty far away from the old neighborhood. My brother and I changed to a new school, and we found new friends. I fell in love with Surf Rock drums. I begged my mom to get me lessons and a drum kit. She did. Even though it was a pain to get to the music store and take lessons, my mom and dad supported me.

My drum instructor Don Conn, was a Jazz musician and sort of looked down on Rock 'n' Roll. He was a student of the great Paul Patterson, who taught at Music City in Philadelphia. Paul was one of Buddy Rich's students. Music City was visited regularly by Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and many more accomplished jazz players. But I wasn't really interested in jazz, or the more or less stuck up way they looked at music. I loved Rock'n'Roll and that was that. It was here that I began realizing my teachers (in school, and in music) didn't so much care so much about me, or what I wanted to do. What they cared about was what they wanted teach me. I started losing interest in lessons. Eventually, I stopped taking them.

As our family grew and changed, my musical tastes expanded beyond those early influences. While I still loved listening to the Beatles, Beach Boys and the like, Boston, KISS and Led Zeppelin came along. Again, guitars where the main instruments. And my interest in drums began falling away. I might be able to keep time and make accents to music, but I wasn't actually creating melody or progression in music.