Before I say anything, I want to give thanks to my wife, Julie Hazan. I would not be in this band without her love and support. In fact, I wouldn't even be in the Bay Area if it wasn't for her. Sometimes it's worth taking in a stray cat. Thank you, my dear, I love you.
I had three years of classical music training on piano, ending at age 10. I've always engaged in music ever since my earliest memories. Music wasn't something to pursue for me, rather it was simply always there, naturally. My mother's side of the family played instruments to amuse themselves while other family members were in bands, some becoming quite well-known in Europe. I never counted on being a musician and my involvement in music was always for my own pleasure.
I grew up listening to classic rock, later involving myself in heavier, more energetic music forms like punk rock, speed metal and grunge rock. I always enjoyed all music forms, some more than others, but it was the rebelliousness and viceral energy of music that influenced me in my formative years. In high school I was self taught on drums. Later, in college, as an art major, I picked up a guitar at a garage sale and learned to play without formal lessons. I relied heavily on local musician friends who spent time teaching me what they could in 10 minutes. The rest I learned from Mel Bay self-instruction books and whatever I could squeeze out of my three years of classical piano.
When I became proficient enough on guitar, I decided to seek formal training. I asked friend Mason Harris to teach me bluegrass music. He agreed as long as I did whatever he said and didn't expect much from him otherwise. It was perfect. I was allowed to sit in with his band, the Red Cork Ramblers, with Mason playing mandolin. I learned this wonderful, original American music form: basic, simple, technically strenuous, fast and just plain fun! I fell in love with playing alongside other musicians, something relatively new to me, as I had never formally played in a band. I helped co-found a band in 2009 that was short-lived. Seeking the right opportunity to assemble my own band once again, I became a student of bluegrass under the oral tradition. Finally, in 2013, I got together with my buddy Tim who was in that first band with me, and we co-founded Fret & Fiddle in 2013 with Leslie and Julie. We've been going steady ever since.