Tell us about your musical childhood.
Growing up, I generally preferred my dad’s old vinyl records to most of what was being played on popular radio at the time. The musicianship + creativity of classic rock and the lyrics + melodies of the more folksy songwriters of the 60s and 70s (i.e. Don McLean, Dan Fogelberg, Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Simon & Garfunkel, etc.) has always interested me more than the “mainstream” of my time. I think that’s why I’m particularly drawn to independent artists and singer-songwriters now.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Try to make my daughter laugh and teach her things. But my wife is better at doing both. She’s funnier than me and smarter than me. Please, don’t tell her I admitted that.
What age did you start playing music?
I didn’t really start playing any instruments until I was in high school. I was about 17 when I started teaching myself how to play the guitar, so that’s when I started writing, too. For me, learning to play always went hand-in-hand with writing and creating. I didn’t know anything, so it was all a creative exploration.
If you could play any instrument that you don’t already what would it be?
Violin. It’s such an incredible instrument. I have one, but I can’t play it. Here’s proof.
What is your most embarrassing musical moment?
I was playing a show at Boston College back in 2011 when I got the hiccups right in the middle of a song. That had never happened to me prior and it hasn’t happened since. It ended up allowing for some humorous interaction with the crowd, but I couldn’t finish the song until I got rid of them.
What is your guilty pleasure song that you sing at the top of your lungs?
80s pop. I love it. I think A-ha’s “Take On Me” and Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” are quintessential 80s pop songs. But there are also 80s pop/rock hits like Toto’s “Rosanna”, Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love”, and all of Huey Lewis & the News’ greatest hits. I love them all. And someday, hopefully within the next decade, I’ll write and record my own 80s pop album.
While being near family is the main attraction, another thing that’s great about living back in my hometown (Dayton, Ohio) is that the Dayton International Airport is my main travel hub – and the Dayton International Airport has a constant stream of 80s music playing over the speakers. It’s virtually impossible to be inside that airport for an hour and not hear Rick Astley.
Who would open for you if you could choose anyone?
I’ve always thought that if I ever really “made it big”, I would ask a complete unknown to open for me, to give them a chance to make an honest stand in front of the people. But it wouldn’t just be charity, or a favor. I’d have to really like their music. If I’m ever in a place where I can really give another artist that kind of bump, that kind of support, I’d love to do so.
If you could play any venue, where would it be?
I’d like to play at the Fraze Pavilion. It’s an outdoor amphitheater in my hometown that seats a little over 4,000. I missed Bob Dylan when he played the Fraze a few years ago, but I’ve seen Peter Frampton, Ben Folds, Guster, Rufus Wainwright, and The Avett Brothers live in concert there. I’ve just always wanted to do a big, full-band show in my hometown.