I was born into a musical family in Indiana, and my journey began when I got handed a trumpet at age 9. Lessons and competitions soon followed, but those dreams were ended with braces at age 14. I had, however, gotten turned onto the electric bass by, of all things, an old Bee Gees video that prominently featured a Rickenbacker 4001, and I was hooked. Numerous really bad punk bands ensued, but by the time I was halfway through college, I had discovered the Meters, Dr. John, and Earl King…and met a girl from New Orleans. My course was set.
My first few years in town, back in the mid-90s, were lean. I started working on my own instruments because I couldn’t afford to pay someone else to. I could however, afford a few how-to books, and after mangling a couple of my own basses, I figured a bunch of stuff out. In between gigs, I paid the bills teching for The Radiators and the George Porter Jr, and mixing sound at House of Blues. By about 2000, as my gigs picked up, I left the tech world, and toured playing bass on the club circuit with a string of funk, blues and R&B bands, honing my chops, and really figuring out what I did and did not like about my instruments. In my time off the road, I worked for the astoundingly talented Vincent Guidroz at New Orleans Guitar Company, where I really got to hone my craft, especially fret, inlay and finish work, on dozens of custom bespoke instruments and hundreds of production guitars. While there, I learned the whole process of creating an instrument, from the initial idea, to the sketches and drawings, the final design and its tooling, through to its execution and production.
Working on them all day and playing them all night may sound a bit one-dimensional, but it’s a lack of balance that I find personally satisfying. My decades of working the clubs and on the road gives me the knowledge to know what it takes for an instrument to perform in a live situation, and my years building and repairing them gives me the skills to make that a reality. To this day, I’m still very much an active part of the scene—any given night, you’re bound to catch me onstage somewhere on Frenchmen or Bourbon—come say hi.