phone (603) 279-6032 email: email@example.com (make sure you include "music lessons" in the subject line)
My name might sound familiar because I sold
compensated banjo bridges to quite a few folks around the world. I was one of
the first builders to experiment with non-traditional woods. A couple of
years ago, I wrote a Bluegrass Unlimited cover story - "Down Home with Eddie
& Martha Adcock". I also wrote the Banjo Newsletter review of Eddie's banjo
My primary instrument is banjo, but I've been known to thrash a few other instruments - it's the bluegrass way.
I grew up in Clinton, CT - a small town on the shoreline. The Kingston Trio got me hooked on folk music when I was a high school freshman in 1959. I got a $25 Stella guitar, which made my fingers bleed... so I traded it in on a Kay banjo. The Pete Seeger book gave me clues to the world of "real" folk music, and I progressed to The New Lost City Ramblers - then bluegrass. I started teaching guitar and as a Senior, was one of three rebelious academic students who forced the Principal to "allow" our music teacher to create a Music Theory course. I didn't know squat about keyboards, so I had to do all my figuring on the guitar neck. In retrospect, that was the single most significant course I've ever taken - at any level. By the time I entered UConn, I owned a Mastertone (new), a 1914 A-model, and a Hummingbird. I worked my way through college playing and teaching. I had my own bluegrass band and played bass with another group of older guys (ancient - in their 30's). When I graduated, I decided to "retire" from professional endeavors so that I could concentrate on being a really good English teacher.
That was a wise decision. However, I felt guilty about having professional instruments around the house, so I sold all except my Gretsch Country Club. I sold each instrument for $600: a 1915 gold-plated, abalone-inlaid Vega #9 (which sounded like Eddie's old Epiphone); a 1938 D-28 Herringbone; and a 1918 Gibson F-2 - that went to Jimmie Gaudreau.
During my first year of English teaching at a small high school, the music teacher quit. She couldn't handle the 12 delinquents that were the school band! The Superintendent knew my background, and asked if I could do something. I agreed on the condition that I not get any crap about repertoire. I wrote out the charts myself. By the end of the year, we gave a concert of Beatles and Monkees, and the kids had actually learned something in the process.
After about seven years, I discovered that a fellow English teacher played electric guitar. I suggested that we jam just to keep our chops. He was a few years younger - we did not have any contemporary music in common, but we both remembered some of those simple 1950's progressions. One thing led to another, and we soon had two more teachers (music) on piano and drums, and an ex-student on bass. We were "The Flashbacks" - an all-oldies show band that went through four costume changes a night. We played all over New England, making more on the weekends than we made all week teaching school. We backed up The Coasters, Chubby Checker, and Bo Diddley.
Bo loved the band. His repertoire covers a wide variety of genres, so he really appreciated our musicianship. The first time we backed him, he turned around halfway during the opening number and said, "You guys are f-n' great!" By the third tune, he had enough confidence to ask me if I wanted to take a break. I told him I'd give it a try... the song was "Old Mountain Dew" - IN G!!! Needless to say, I ripped the snot out of it and Bo just laughed in delight. Every time he was in New England, he'd ask for us; we got to play with him a dozen times.
After five years of high-energy weekends (no drugs or booze - just loads of coffee), I needed a break. I stopped rockin' and picked up an offshore 5-string for my own amusement. When I moved to New Hampshire (near "Golden Pond") in 1979, I met a couple of good folk/semi-bluegrass musicians. We've been picking ever since. I started off playing bass and mandolin (with an occasional flashy banjo number), but for the last fifteen years I've had to "limit" myself to banjo - the mandolin was not kind to carpal tunnel syndrome. That was a blessing. I got back to my banjo roots and concentrated on developing "good stuff" for slow tunes. When people hear me play up-tempo tunes, they know they're listening to a good banjo player, but when they hear my slow backup, the know they're listening to a musician. My buddy Eddie Adcock told an audience he likes my playing because I don't try to imitate him, but you can always tell where I get my inspiration...
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