Everything You Want to Know?

I'm not a fan of writing about myself in the third person. It always struck me as silly. If I leave anything or anyone out, it is most definitely by design, but only for brevity's sake.

While I will most certainly be presenting myself in a favorable light, you can rest assured that this is as factual an account as I can muster.

Early Years

An older friend once told my mom that I was a "latent genius."  While I'm not sure exactly what he meant, I've since taken it to mean that I was quite lazy. 
 
Never one for practicing, I developed the habit of picking things up by ear (quickly), instead of learning to read the notes.  This did not sit well with any of the instructors my parents paid to teach me, and although I've since become almost adequate as a sight-reader, I still tend to rely on my ear first.

Programming a Pro One in Washington, DC (1982)

I started playing in bands well before I was technically qualified.  It helped that everyone else was just as bad.  

I played anywhere - anytime - and wasn't all that good for a very long time.  

But as the old man and others proclaimed in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, "I got better!" 

Opus promo shoot in Nashville (1982)


Except for a sidetrack into musical theater post-graduation, I spent most of the seventies and eighties playing keys and singing with a handful of touring "dance" and "show" bands that played all over the country in hotel chains and large clubs.
 
It was an interesting life, but after the tenth time around the circuit, it started to lose its luster.   
I moved to northeastern Ohio in the mid-eighties and started working as a session musician, supplementing that with various local and touring bands.  The two most notable were the Dinosaurs and Brimstone. 
  
Along with endless jingles and local projects, I would occasionally get called to work with national artists.  During this period, I also discovered I had a knack for arranging vocal parts, usually on the fly and I ended up getting many calls to arrange backing vocal parts. 

Marshall Tucker Band

In 1989, I got the chance to join The Marshall Tucker Band, one of the original southern rock bands.  I was originally tapped to fill in on lead vocals while lead vocalist Doug Gray was convalescing from a serious illness.  I ended up staying on for close to five years.

With The Marshall Tucker Band in Chicago (1991)


Since my voice sounded similar to Doug's, the other band members started spreading rumors that I was his nephew and I received surprisingly little pushback from fans. When he came back on the road a few months later, he let me continue to sing lead on a few songs ("Take the Highway" and "Ramblin'") in every set.  

Programming a Pro One in Washington, DC (1982)

I recorded three records with MTB and they covered songs that I wrote.  Three songs appeared on Southern Spirit and two on the follow-up,  Still Smokin'.

Fronting The Marshall Tucker Band (1990)


I left after the recording of the third record (Walk Outside the Lines), to spend more time with my growing family.

Recording Engineer

I moved back to my old hometown in 1995, and when a recording engineer spot opened in a local studio, I decided to try working the other side of the glass. 
  
I had zero experience running a recording session and made billions of mistakes, but with each new project the work became less stressful and the results less cringeworthy. 
  
In other words, I got better. 

Single Parent/Audio Engineer (1998)

LPPACenter

I've been with the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center (and Charter School) since the summer of 2006.  I started out as a 10-hour per week adjunct, teaching audio recording and quickly ended up in charge of everything sound related.  I've mixed upwards of forty musical theater productions, done sound design for countless straight plays, mixed live performances by local favorites and national legends and even produced lunchtime extravaganzas for Lincoln Park students.

Backing The Ladies Who Lunch at LPPACS (2014)


In addition to live and studio work, I've also been tapped as a composer and lyricist for Lincoln Learning Solutions online curriculumm.  I started with an ABC song cycle and ended up writing and producing over 200 songs for various educational projects.  

I've also scored an limited educational television series (Meet Me at the Great Tree), an online educational game-world, interactive iPad readers and various online lessons.  

In 2016 I produced a  Christmas Album featuring school alumni and staff. and more recently oversaw recording of an original ballet (Snow White) by Lincoln Park Alumni, Zac Mendola.  

One of the things I'm most proud of is writing the school's alma mater.

Drum Session at Lincoln Park Studios (2016)

My job title these days is "Audio Specialist," and one of the things I specialize in is providing support for the technical team.  I'm basically on call anytime there is an event at the center, helping staff troubleshoot the inevitable problems that come up.  

Seussical in Lincoln Park's Main Theater (2014)

Still Playing After All These Years

When I'm not living up to my name as the Phantom of Lincoln Park, I still find time to perform. I've been working with the same power trio (The ADD Band), for the past twenty years.  It mainly consists of myself on bass, Dave Granati on guitars and Andy Taravella on drums. Occasionally the lineup changes, but for the most part it's Andy, Don and Dave.   

A.D.D. Band playing the Band Slam (2019)

Occasionally, I will offer to help a Lincoln Park alumni or local band for a specific event. Usually on keyboard or bass.  Over the last twenty years I've done shows with local legend Norm Nardini, The Jaggerz and The Granati Brothers.  Most recently, I helped Lincoln Park alumni, Sarah Khatami with her CD release. 

Backing Sarah Khatami in Pittsburgh (2017)

My preferred performance mode is solo, usually with a guitar (I bring three with me and play them all).  I enjoy not relying on anyone but myself, and my song list is easily three times larger than any band's. You can learn more about my act, find out where I'm performing and more, by visiting my performance page. 

Performing solo at Lula of Sewickley (2018)