About DanIn the late 60's after the "British Invasion" in popular music it became very popular for kids to play in rock bands. Everybody wanted to play guitar. I started playing guitar at 13 inspired by "The Shades of Blue" band at my 8th grade graduation dance June 8, 1968. They were some older high school kids and were really quite good musicians and I was transfixed by their performance. I just knew I had to do that myself so I bought a guitar from a classmate that very night. Thus I know the exact date I became a guitarist so I know when to celebrate the anniversary.
I took a few lessons at a local music store but found that boring and the teacher was disinterested in teaching this kid who was obviously never going to be a guitarist. So I quit lessons and went it alone for about ten years before I ever took another lesson.
This slowed my development a lot. I picked up bits and pieces of information here and there from more experienced musicians and managed after much effort to become a modestly capable rock guitarist. During this time I got my first formal musical education with classes at the College of Lake County in music theory, classical guitar performance and piano.
In 1978 I went to college in N. Carolina to study marine science. While there I took a more serious interest in classical guitar. I bought a book and learned how to read music which was a great advancement in my knowledge of the guitar. I played classical guitar for a few years until I developed control problems in my right hand and could no longer finger pick. The problem was never solved and I can't finger pick to this day except in a very limited way. After returning from N.Carolina during my most active years of studying classical guitar I also studied with two great teachers, Norman Ruiz and John Mavreas. While it saddens me that I can no longer play classical guitar in the traditional way the knowledge and experience I gained from those years of study have been invaluable. I still play a few classical pieces now which I have adapted for flat picking technique.
In addition to my classical studies after I came back from N.C. I formed a hard rock band called "Egypt" with some friends and we played for a few years. By this time with my classical studies I had developed some chops and could impress an audience but I still knew my skills and knowledge were lacking.
In 1986 I got into my first serious working band. "Kid Gloves" was a quartet with guitar, bass, drums , and Wayne Ewing on Hammond B3 organ and vocals. Wayne was a great singer and keyboardist. Under his leadership we worked fairly steadily for about ten years. We played classic to current dance and rock songs. We also played at many weddings, banquets and other events that required a more varied repertoire. This was valuable experience for me playing music I wouldn't otherwise have chosen to play. My next successful band which formed in the 90's was Mystriss which is my main band to this day. Mystriss started out as a three piece rock band with Angela Powell singing, her husband, Kevin on bass and back up vocals , and Bob Yeager on drums. After a few years Bob left and was replaced on drums by John Faruzzi. Angela's sister, Christine also joined the band greatly expanding our vocal range and capabilities. And most recently we've added Dave Wells on keyboards, rhythm guitar and vocals. Mystriss has matured into a very good rock cover band and is developing a following in the northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin area.
During the Kid Gloves years I got interested in jazz and started studying the Jamie Aebersold jazz instruction series. This is a book and record method and it really was very good to get me started in jazz guitar. The knowledge I gained from this made it possible some years later to join the Abbott jazz band where I work and that was my first experience playing in a semi regularly working jazz band. The band plays mostly at Abbott functions like anniversary and retirement parties and other corporate functions. This was where I learned to improvise over jazz chords and play rhythm while others are soloing. This gave me a good foundation for my next big jazz adventure. In 2007 I auditioned for the College of Lake County Jazz Ensemble which is a 20 piece big band. I took the guitar chair and for two years I learned how to play big band jazz. I knew I was lacking in knowledge of chord voicings, comping style and to some extent soloing. So I took a few lessons from a great teacher at the college named Brien Mcallaghan. That band had the most educated and talented musicians I've ever played with and it was a humbling and very educational experience for me. Through friends in the CLC Jazz Ensemble I got a chance to join yet another new type of band for me. This is the "White Swan and Ivy" band. It is an eleven piece dance, R&B and disco band. There are three front singers, four horns, drums, keyboards, bass, and guitar.
There were other bands, jam sessions and recording studio experiences over the last 40 years far too numerous to mention. All of these experiences have influenced me, educated me, and made me into the musician I am today.