Then I met Mike West.
Mike was a scraggly-haired, thin-as-a-rail banjo player and songwriter from New Orleans who played at Southern Lights. Friends had been telling me about his music for some time before I was actually able to see him play. Those shows were revelations for me both as a novice banjo player and songwriter. At the time, the owner of Southern Lights allowed me to fill the musician breaks with short puppet acts. Mike wanted to include the puppets in his sets, thus our friendship began. He gave me my first and only formal banjo lesson.
Several years passed and I had written a batch of songs. Occasionally, I'd send tapes of them to Mike to get his input. This eventually led to an invitation to his home studio to make my first album of songs: “Played By the Rules.” To date, we've made four subsequent albums of my original songs: “Family Album,” “Far Cry,” “Postcards From Sadness,” and a band effort for Fat Man Squeeze: “Authentic Frontier Gibberish.”
I moved to Atlanta, GA in 2004 and met bassist Will Robertson in the months leading up to my move. We both liked each other's playing and the formation of Banjolicious soon followed. We have been playing together ever since in Atlanta coffee shops, bars, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and private parties. Will is also an extremely talented engineer and record producer who produced two of my albums: “Sunday Best,” and “A Year and Some Change,” which chronicled my time spent living, loving and pickin' in New York City. From time to time, we're joined by Matt Phillips on mandolin, cornet and tenor guitar and Rhett McAllister on guitar.
Career highlights include: opening for the Kingston Trio at Troy University (1998); “Wal-Mart Song” used on BBC report (2002); soundtrack on PBS series, “SeeMore's Playhouse” (2007); soundtrack for Truth anti-smoking national television commercial (2007); opening for Danny Barnes at Eddie's Attic (2008); invited musician on Muppet Performer, Jerry Nelson's album, “Truro Daydreams” (2009);