Jumpin' Juba
Guitar Tips

- B i o g r a p h y-

When I was a kid, I created my own comic strips, often satirical, and wrote parody versions of current rock hits (didn't Frank Zappa start that way?). As a teen, I got into (somewhat) more serious poetry, as well as the guitar, moving through basic rock, then blues styles. Like so many others, I used the blues as a basis for exploring other styles, such as jazz and country music. Also like so many others, I started to sing in informal groups because no one else wanted the job. I got better over time. 

I was attracted to acoustic blues because that style's solo guitar / vocal approach seemed so complete to me—the rhythm, melody, and very expressive, raw singing, all come together around a simple tight focus. Blues lyrics tend to be simple and direct, while lyrics based on 19th Century Romantic poetry traditions tend to be more image-laden and impressionistic. I like both approaches. Can we mix them? Is that allowed? 

In the '80s, my repertoire coalesced around a solo guitar, finger-style, blues/folk approach. I covered some blues classics, and wrote tunes in that vein, honing my skills. In the mid-1980s, I moved to Boston, the East Coast Mecca for acoustic musicians. I formed an acoustic group called The Loiterers, and for a few years, acoustic and electric versions of the band played mostly around the eastern half of MA. In 1991, I released a cassette-album called WHOA! That's a'Plenty that documents my exploratory nature, and my group's ability to play several styles very well. Contemporary folk-rock, blues, swing, Brazilian, African, Caribbean, Mexican touches abounded. None of the styles were presented as if I were attempting to be a purist, rather, I was (and still am) a songwriter mixing sounds together just to enhance the songs and put them across. 

In 1993, I released my first CD, Free Eats! again, with The Loiterers. This collection featured more of a full band sound, reflecting the gigs we'd been playing around that time. The tunes were more blues-based this time, though Soca and Klezhmer influences pop up in a few places. Most of the tunes were based around solo guitar arrangements, though that's not always immediately obvious when listening to the recordings. I began to play outside of New England around this time. 

I went back to solo and duo acoustic performances. By 1996, I had three acts going: solo acoustic, The Cool Beverages (an acoustic trio: guitar, upright bass and drums/percussion), and The Loiterers, which had by this time become an electric blues/roots-rock band. The Cool Bev's sound was the basis for my next CD release, 

A Few Simple Words. Once again rooted around my acoustic solo guitar arrangements, this disc mixes styles, more subtly this time. African and Latin guitar touches are still there, but over the years, I've learned to integrate them with more widely recognized blues and folk styles. The guitar work is, as always, very up-front, but this time, I let it stand a little more on its own, though I had excellent support from acoustic bassist Dave Smallwood and drummer/percussionist Deb Blackadar. My act has always featured some open-tuned slide guitar, and A Few Simple Words has several tracks based around that style. 

For the past few years, I've been working as a duo (sometimes trio) called Jumpin' Juba , in which I team up with a great blues/boogie piano player, Bruce Ward. Our styles meet best on blues-y material, so we offer a mix of blues and roots-rock, on both originals and classic covers. In Juba, I typically play electric guitar. Long-time musical associates Brian Flan or David Langhoff sometimes appear with us on drums. I still play solo acoustic shows as well.