About Me

I’m a musician living in Palouse, WA with my wife, son, and dog. I compose, produce, and record music, and sometimes build musical instruments. I play many stringed instruments and styles of music--Irish and North American fiddle music, banjo, piano, guitar, mandolin, rubab, al’ud, djembe, krar...

I released a CD of gourd banjo music, "American Akonting," in 2016, but I began this project in the late 1980s when I discovered the earliest example of African-American banjo music hiding in plain sight in an 1854 piano piece by 19th-c. American composer, Louis Moreau Gottschalk. I was a banjo player of some renown (two critically-acclaimed albums on the Flying Fish label in the 1980s), but I quit playing the modern banjo so I could devote myself to both building gourd banjos (in my version of the original fretless design) and mastering this entirely undiscovered roots music, while designing and teaching World Music courses at Washington State University and doing various other projects.

I have done a fair amount of record production for other artists, but have tried to clear my schedule recently to focus on my own work, in particular my opera, "Cassandra." In recent years, I have worked in a remarkable range of venues, from performing the mandolin in the Washington-Idaho Symphony's staging of Mozart's "Don Giovanni" (February 2014) to performing my "Palouse ragas" on the Afghan rubab for restorative yoga here in my little town of Palouse, WA once a month. Some other highlights...

In Fall 2007 I received a commission to compose music for a devotional service being created by the Common Ministry at Washington State University and University of Idaho for people of no particular religion. The result, "Mosaic," was recorded in Spring of 2008 and the limited CD release is now sold out. In Spring of 2006 I released a CD of music I have composed for Seattle-based performance artist Thomas Arthur called "Handmade." I’m also currently a member of a traditional Irish music band called “Potatohead,” which released a CD called "Palouse Irish" in 2005.

Someone told me recently that I should add my academic degrees to my bio... So, I received my BA in Music Composition in 1980 from Pomona College in Claremont, CA, and after years of performing and recording, I returned for my MA in Music Composition from University of California, San Diego in 1990.  For what it's worth, I also earned my shodan ("black belt") in aikido from Shihan Mitsugi Saotome in 2003.  In the 1980s I released two records on the Flying Fish label, "Mysterious Barricades" (1982) and "Ellipsis" (1984), the latter being with Seattle musicians William Pint and Robert Kotta. Besides performing for several years with William and Bob as “Ellipsis,” other groups that have performed my music include the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Chanticleer, the Pacific String Quartet, and the Northwest Chamber Orchestra.

Palouse River Music blog--click on the photo