I started listening to music in the womb. My Irish physician-father cut loose at night by drinking and singing with Harry Belafonte, Trini Lopez, Marty Robbins, and others. Later, I hid a transistor radio under my pillow as I listened to hip Dick Biondi of WLS radio in Chicago. Grew up in NW Chicago suburbs and served as “roadie” for local band in teens. Was fortunate to see: Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, Mothers of Invention, Cream, Airplane, Dead, and others!! Music I saw “regularly” included Chicago natives – John Prine and Steve Goodman; as well as Paul Butterfield, Siegel-Schwall, Muddy Waters, and other blues legends.
After hearing the Beatles in 1965, I took guitar lessons from 1966-1970; even played and sang in garage bands (including on keyboards which I taught myself.) Played solo acoustic guitar and sang until about 1983 (then focused on PhD program, professor job, and parenting role). Started playing bluegrass mandolin about 15 years ago – was easy to take on planes. Then about ten years ago started picking mandolin and guitar along with DVDs of Jerry Garcia, Jimi Hendrix and others. I have learned many riffs (and channel energy in unique ways.) Even have a Line 6 amplifier with tons of effects!! I also play harmonica and all manner of percussion.
After 20 years of public speaking I have no stage fright and love to perform. My voice had been compared to Johnny Cash or Tom Wait. I have no formal training in music theory — but do have perfect pitch. I attribute this to my father who used to sing along with folk music when I was a child. I was a sociology professor at NC State University for 25 years and now am writing this book and working with local musicians and organizations. Musical energy and inspiration drives all my initiatives.
Have many wonderful instruments. My favorite is the new Epiphone Riviera I just got. I also have had a 1966 Gibson 160-E guitar for over 40 years (same as used often by John Lennon). Been through a lot and was recently rebuilt. First acoustic guitar to build in a pickup (at bottom of neck.) Have an awesome 1996 F-style, Flatiron mandolin (with a custom built-in pickup.) Bought a Casio 900 keyboard for $200 – same functionality of $1000 models a few years ago. Can now jam along as marimbas, sax, synthesizer, piano or anything. I also bought a used Baldwin theater organ from a Thrift Shop. Big box of percussion instruments. Own a portable PA system. Skilled with audio mixing and video recording.