My Musical Journey
The sounds of Les Paul and Mary Ford came into my life when I was four years old. Their hit Bye Bye Blues was the theme song for my Dad’s radio show on KDON, Salinas, California. Loving the sound of those guitars and the fact that my grandmother gave me her guitar when I was ten, I couldn’t wait to play.
The folk music craze had ignited as I entered eighth grade. In high school, my friends and I started a folk group patterned after the Kingston Trio who were having hit after hit. Calling ourselves Tim, Tom and Ron, we got our first taste of show business.
Timothy B. Schmit and Ron Flogel became my musical partners from that time on through college and beyond. As music styles changed, we would change our name, look and sound in order to stay current.
The Beach Boys’ Surfin‘ USA came out when we were sophomores. We immediately bought electric guitars, added George Hullin on drums, changed our name to The Contenders and became a surf band. When The Beatles arrived, we bought matching suits, changed our hair and changed our name to The New Breed.
The New Breed had a regional hit Green Eyed Woman that allowed us to play towns up and down the Sacramento Valley. Twenty five years later, a record company would gather the local hits we had made and released the album Want Ad Reader. They were trying to capitalize on the fact that Timothy had gone on to become a member of The Eagles.
The psychedelic era began during our early college days. We would journey into San Francisco on weekends and become part-time hippies. Changing our name to The Breed and dressing as wild as we could, we started playing bigger shows at the Fillmore Auditorium and the Avalon Ballroom, opening for the likes of The Grateful Dead, The Jefferson Airplane, and Janis Joplin.
In the summer of 1967, we moved to Hollywood to record an album for ABC Records. We weren’t happy with the over produced recording or that they had us change our name to Glad, but we went along with it. The album was called Feelin’ Glad.
During this time, we met Richie Furay and Jim Messina of Buffalo Springfield. They were starting a new band, Poco, and would later ask Timothy to join. Since we were broke, having played only two gigs at the Whiskey A Go Go, and heading back home, Timothy wisely said yes. He played nine years with Poco before joining The Eagles, where he still continues.
Back home again, blues guitarist Andy Samuels joined the band, I started playing steel guitar and we changed our name to Redwing. We were a country rock band and caught the attention of music critic, Ralph Gleason. He guided us to sign with Fantasy Records in Berkeley. Our recording of California Blues by Jimmy Rodgers helped us get a few European tours but after five albums and the onset of disco, we disbanded in the mid-seventies.
The eighties found me playing in a classical guitar duo with Gilda Taffet, starting a jazz trio, Avalon Swing, and playing in an oldies rock band, The Surf Dukes. Avalon Swing continues to play and has released several records with Shelley Burns as vocalist.
Since 1984, I’ve been playing for national Broadway shows that come through town and the locally produced musicals of the California Musical Theater.
Teaching guitar started in my high school days and has continued to this day. It all started with Tiny Moore, the great jazz mandolinist, who just happened to live a few blocks away from our Sacramento home. When I knocked on his door asking if he could teach me how to improvise, it began a wonderful musical relationship.
When I was in the eighth grade, Tiny used to come to the house and give me guitar lessons. By the time I was a freshman, he had opened his own teaching studio and asked me to start teaching with him. For twenty five years I was privileged to teach and play music with Tiny.
After Tiny retired, Skip Maggoria, another Tiny Moore protégé, asked me to teach at his music store. I’ve been teaching at Skip’s Music for the past twenty seven years.
While in junior college, my band instructor invited me to teach a summer guitar program. This led me to becoming part of the adjunct faculty and teaching guitar classes at American River College for thirty years.
Cuban guitar virtuoso Rey de la Torre was my classical guitar instructor for my last two years of college. I was attending Sacramento State College but had to drive to San Francisco to take lessons with him. He soon asked me to take over some of his students and for the next two years, I taught classical guitar with him at the San Francisco School of Opera and Music.
I have been lucky to have two careers that I enjoy. Playing music and teaching music. It doesn’t get any better than that.