Warning: This is the long version!
I was born in Anacortes, WA but raised in north Seattle, Ballard as a kid and then Shoreline. I moved to Maury Island in the early ‘70’s and then back to Anacortes. I’ve listened intently to singers and sung around the house when no one could hear me as long as I can remember. As I got older I sang baritone in performing school and church choirs. I had a couple of false starts on the guitar when I was 14 and 17 but didn’t work at it. In 1969 I went to a concert at Eagles in Seattle where mostly hot new rock bands played every week. One week it was Albert King! That night changed the direction of my life forever. I fell in love with the Blues and realized that most of my favorite music was rooted in the Blues. The next week I began studying guitar, harmonica and the Blues. I consider this to be my life’s work. While I bring my own style to the music whether I wrote it or not I am always working to get closer to the roots of the blues.
After 6 years in the Air Force I settled in western Spokane County for 7 years with my wife Nancy. Then we moved to the ranch her great, great grandfather homesteaded in eastern Lincoln County near Reardan where we lived for 24 years. I finished college at EWU in Cheney, WA after the Air Force and then worked there in the administrative computer center as a systems analyst for 12 years. During those years I taught myself to play Dobro in a gospel bluegrass band for about 4 years where I got to sing 4 part harmony which was a lot of fun.
For too short a time I played harp in Crossroads Blues Band named after the Robert Johnson song with Spokane’s Frank Delaney and Jim Kraft until we lost our great player/singer Dave Rankin in a tragic car accident. In the mid ‘80’s I often sat in with Jim (Kraft) & Roxane on Dobro or harp at their gigs around Spokane.
After that came a band that played blues and classic rock which we named 32-20 after another Robert Johnson song. Some friends from Goofy’s Tavern in Cheney and I formed the band and played there dozens of times along with other Spokane area venues including the Big Dipper and Blues on the Range. Bob McMillan played bass Buzz Nickoloff played drums and Dan Beemer played guitar while I switched off between my Carvin DC135 electric guitar and amplified harp. We all sang.
Before Neil Elwell formed his very successful band Laughing Bones he put together a band with the great name Bluesasaurus. I played guitar or harp and Patrick Klausen played bass fiddle. Just as with 32-20 we all shared the vocals.
In 1993 I opened a retail store called Sports Cards & Blues Hdqtrs west of Spokane near Fairchild AFB in Airway Heights. Besides collector cards I sold guitars and harmonicas along with instruction material and all kinds of accessories for them. I also carried the best selection of blues cd’s in the northwest. This led to me teaching guitar and harmonica lessons at the store in the evenings when I didn’t have gigs. Additionally I began teaching both instruments in adult education classroom settings for Spokane Parks & Rec. and Spokane Falls Community College. I taught well over a thousand private lessons and over a thousand hours in the classroom. I closed the store in 2003 but continued teaching as well as performing.
I formed a band in 1994 with Dan Sheldon, my wife’s bothers Vern and John Freeze and Vern’s wife Colleen. I played guitar sometimes and harp sometimes but not together. Colleen, Dan and I did most of the vocals. When Dan moved to Kansas City Kenny Lawson took his place for a while and then finally Jeff Aker filled that spot very nicely. Highlights for Hdqtrs Blues Band included playing the Ritzville Blues Festival twice and opening for James Cotton at Bolo’s in Spokane.
In 1996 I changed direction a bit and started performing alone with amplified acoustic guitars. I keep one in standard tuning and the other in open G and open D. I figured I’d have to find a way to play harp at the same time as guitar which I had never done because I couldn’t find a way to make a neck rack work for me. I had wondered many times if a stand might work so I decided to try it. My first experiment was taping a harp to a hand truck handle while I kept my foot on the base to keep it from moving. This showed promise so I took a home made stand from the old shop at the ranch which was made out of a 1930’s steering wheel and column and modified it. I intended to build a new one if it worked but I’m still using the old steering wheel. It’s too cool to replace.
After playing several gigs at Bookwalter Winery in Richland I grew more and more interested in the climate of the Tri-Cities. In 2008 we sold the farm house and moved to Kennewick. My day job these days in being retired but I will continue performing and teaching as long as I am able.