My interest in fiddle music was sparked when my family moved three houses down from Lundin's Violins, the central shop for the many fiddlers in Spokane, Washington. On my way home from school I would often stop by the shop just to hear the fiddles. At the age of 8 I began taking old-time fiddle lessons in their shop from Jay Dean Ludiker. I started to compete in fiddle competitions and soon joined the Junior Hoe-downers, a fiddle group that played local events around the area.
My family also developed an interest in fiddling. My brother Chris, sister Jennifer and I were fortunate to spend much of our childhood engulfed in music. Each year we would travel to several fiddle contests. I won a number of titles including two Washington State Junior Fiddle Championships. I also placed in the top five in the Junior and Adult divisions at the National Old Time Fiddler's Contest held in Weiser, Idaho.
At Weiser I was introduced to the fiddling of Jimmy Don Bates, Matt Hartz, Joey Mckenzie and other Texas Style players. Recording as many jam sessions and collecting as many recordings as I could, I delved into Texas-Style fiddling inspired by great players and innovators such as Benny Thomasson, Orville Burns, Major Franklin and Terry Morris. Both Joey Mckenzie and Joe Sites taught me a lot about the importance of good bowing.
As a teen my love of Texas-Style fiddling crossed over to western swing as well as jazz violin. I spent many hours listening and learning solos played by Johnny Gimble, Svend Asmussen and Stuff Smith. I had the opportunity to play plenty of swing and country-fiddle in my family's band Homeward Bound. The band was a favorite in the Pacific Northwest playing fairs, rodeos and festivals as well as opening for many top acts including Johnny Cash. The band produced 2 CDs of original music written mostly by my brother Chris and myself. Our music received regular airplay on the top 40 radio stations.
One summer in Spokane, Homeward Bound had the opportunity to play a festival with Vassar Clements and The David Grisman Quintet. Hearing David and Vassar for the first time on the same weekend was an extraordinary musical experience for me. My love of music was sparked in a new way as I heard the bounds of traditional music being pushed in such original and expressive ways.
The summer after graduating from college with degrees in English Literature, Creative writing and philosophy I spent time in Missoula MT where one evening I walked in on a bluegrass jam session at the Top Hat Saloon. After jamming for a couple hours with the locals, the house band, Pinegrass, invited me to play on stage with them later that night. Luckily I had just met Ivan Rosenberg, a wonderful dobro player and bluegrass aficionado who gave me my first crash coarse in bluegrass. Ivan even pulled up a chair in front of the stage to coach me on my new roles as a bluegrass fiddler. This was the night I was first bitten by the bluegrass bug.
I soon moved to the Bay Area and while living in San Francisco I played several nights each week with Irish singer songwriter Bob Bradshaw as well as local jug-band Jimbo Trout and the Fishpeople. I soon became a member of the Scott Nygaard Trio and then eventually joined bluegrass band Due West alongside Jim Nunally, Bill Evans, Erik Thomas and Cindy Browne.
In the summer of 2002 Bill Evans and Jim Nunally invited me to join them at a rehearsal with David Grisman. It was a dream come true to jam with David, and quite a shock when he asked me to play on some gigs. I have been a member of The David Grisman Bluegrass Experience ever since and the experience never ceases to be amazing.
I have been very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to play on stage with many of the greats including JD Crowe, Sam Bush, Curly Seckler, the Del McCoury Band, Vince Gill, Mike Marshall, Bruce Molsky, Alan Munde, Tony Trishka, Michael Manring, Darol Anger, Chris Thile, and Bela Fleck.
In 1999 I was playing at the Berkeley Farmers Market where I met a woman who introduced herself as Laurie Lewis. I was already a huge fan of her singing and to this day she is one of my very favorite vocalists. We got together to play a few times, even worked out twin fiddles for shows here and there. For years we talked about playing in a band together and finally it happened in 2009. I continue to tour actively with Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands alongside Tom Rozum, Patrick Sauber and Todd Phillips. This formation of the band is featured on Laurie's latest CD Skipping and Flying.
I have to say my love of bluegrass has been matched by my love of oldtime fiddling throughout the last ten years. I am always so glad to know that there are thousands of oldtime fiddle tunes out there to be learned, each one offering something unique on the fiddle. Lately I have been into the fiddling of John Salyer, Marcus Martin, Luther Strong as well as Jimmy Triplett.
I also play in a band with Alan Senauke and Suzy and Erik Thompson who are always a blast to play with. And whenever I get the chance, I play with one of my favorite musicians to play with, Jody Stecher. Jody is featured on my latest cd which I hope to release this winter.