When I first contemplated playing solo, I envisioned playing in small lounges or restaurants....where people were sipping on a drink or eating a meal. I started making a list of piano songs that I loved, that fit that vision. As I first identified songs, the difficulty first became whether or not I was capable of singing the song I identified. The second difficulty became whether the outcome of the vocal and piano combination was of a certain level of quality. Many of the songs had accompanying instrumentation that could not be reproduced adequately with piano and vocal alone. In the end, the good news for my audiences became that the songs that I loved and reproduced well, were also the songs they loved, as almost all were hits and immediately recognizable.
As I began playing at various venues, I quickly found that each had its own feel. Some were as I envisioned...quiet and mellow, while others were much more upbeat...some even having dance floors where people actually got up to dance! Having a repertoire of only slow and mellow songs, wouldn't work for these venues. I then began learning upbeat songs and began tinkering with adding other instrumentation. I could add drums for almost any venue, as almost all songs had drums in the background, even though they may not be out front in the mix. I then convinced Blake to try playing some tunes with me. I also thought that the combination of piano and drums was unique (there are no other such duo's in the area that I am aware of). The second unique feature was that this duo would be father and son. Consequently, I love to play gigs with Blake for these reasons. Since Blake has recently moved to Rapid City, I have also had several drumming "substitutes" for my duo shows. These subs have included Kevin Patten (Mrs. Begley and the Boys), Tyson Conn (The Rude Band), and Tommy Zoss (The Dispensers). It is great to have the opportunity to play with such fine musicians, and frequently the lack of continuity adds for some excitement and often a little suspense as well (how do we end that song again?!).
We have also added Geoff Gunderson and Jay Gilbertson on guitar at times to form a trio. Adding guitar means we can play virtually anything, and add a second vocalist for lead or harmonies. Both Geoff and Jay have played with me on several occasions. Once you add a bassist to the trio, you have officially entered "Rock Band" territory. In the end, I can now match entertainment to any venue interested in live pop or rock music.
I began learning one or two songs per week, a discipline that I have continued since I started playing solo. Consequently, my song list is constantly expanding and evolving. I have included a typical song list on the next page to give you an idea of the type of music I am playing. The song list includes songs from all realms of venues...some for solo piano and vocal, some to include drums, and some to include drums and guitar. I have a good feel for what songs and what instrumentation works for each musical environment.
Over the past years, I have been writing original material, but have recorded none of it. I have invested in a small home recording studio, and intend to begin recording some new original material once I feel comfortable with the quality of my live song list. The intention is to make this new original material available on this website, and of course, you can always hear some of it live at a venue near you!