I was born in Chicago, Illinois, the only son of a full blooded Italian man and a Texas woman. So I come by my passion for Chicago Cubs baseball and my Texas pride honestly. One day out of the blue my father brought home four acoustic guitars. He mentioned something about all of us learning to play. I'm sure I don't remember exactly what was said after that because everything after seeing my first guitar was somewhat of a blur for several years. I was instantly in love with the instrument. My grandfather in Chicago played some guitar and showed me my first chords. I actually have that same guitar sitting on a stand in my living room as we speak (It's the one pictured on the right). It's an old Kay acoustic that he had retrofitted with some sort of pickup. It's hard as hell to play, but I love to pick it up and mess around with it. Anyway, I digress...
SAN ANGELO, TEXAS
After several moves around the midwest, my parents decided to call it quits when I was in the 7th grade. Off to San Angelo, Texas we went to be close to my mother's parents. My mother met an amazing man named Maurice Horn. Or as everyone calls him... Moose. They married when I was in the 8th grade and are still married to this day.
In high school I formed a band with some friends of mine called "Texas Gold". It was here where the foundation was formed for every musical situation I would be in for the rest of my life. We were somehow driven by excellence and wouldn't settle for anything less. We would pick apart our harmonies, learn every musical part of every song note by note and painstakingly record every rehearsal. I'm convinced that my love for recording and production was born during these recording sessions. We pooled the money we made playing and bought a Teac 4 track reel to reel. Don't laugh... it was sooooo cool. Every time we would play a gig, the next day we would set up in our keyboard player, Jay Weatherby's parents garage and mic up our amps and drums to record. It seemed like we were in a constant session. To this day I'm not sure why we did it. It was during this time I discovered songwriting. Every time I would write a new song, off to the Weatherby's garage I would go. I spent so much time there learning how to record. God bless the Weatherby's for never complaining (out loud, at least.) I'm sure I drove them crazy. I actually have some of those recordings. They are awful, but I may put them on the site just for fun one day.
After graduating high school and attending as much college as my short attention span would allow, "Texas Gold" eventually broke up. However, the excellence that drove each of us as a group followed in life. Our bass player, Kelly Wilson, is currently an OBGYN in San Angelo. Guitarist Chris Mickelson is a doctor/fly fishing guide in Alaska. Drummer Wade Spradley followed family tradition and opened a successful upholstery shop and Keyboardist Jay Weatherby enjoyed a short career as a successful lawyer. He is now a Judge. Congratulations, you honor... We all stay in touch and remain close to this day.
After the break up of "Texas Gold" I did what everyone does when you decide to Leave San Angelo... I moved to Dallas. That was 1985. I played in a couple of "bar bands" on the Dallas club circuit while temporarily living with my dad and step mother (Joe and Leia, pictured right) who were married shortly after my parents divorce. They are also still married to this day. It appears that my parents just needed to find the right person for each other. Dallas was a good time for me. I had never lived as an adult outside of San Angelo and the pace of a city the size of Dallas was a nice contrast.
In my travels I was lucky enough to become friends with one of my influences, country artist Steve Wariner. (What a great freakin' guy...) He introduced me to a fellow Dallas musician named Dave Watson. Dave and I became fast friends and eventually roommates.
ON TO NASHVILLE AND STRAIGHT TO THE ROAD
At the end of 1986 Dave, who was a bass player/singer/songwriter, suggested we move to Nashville. It was an idea that seemed to come straight out of the blue. I said.... okay. It was really that simple. We went to Nashville in February 1987 to look for an apartment and a job. I thought we'd land a job waiting tables. Instead we both got a gig playing for Lee Greenwood and moved to Nashville two weeks later. Trust me, it was as bizarre to me that all these things fell into place like they did as it sounds.
I ended up playing for Lee for 5 1/2 years. Lee is a good man and to this day he remains one of the most talented artists I've had the pleasure of playing for. My commitment for musical excellence that was planted during the "Texas Gold" years was fueled tenfold during my Lee Greenwood days. Lee is an excellent musician and expects the same from everyone he works with. He even blessed me with my first cut by recording "My Heart Is On The Line" on his MCA record "If Only For One Night", an album that he let all of us in his road band play on.
It was during these years that relationships would form that would last to this day. The Lee Greenwood band consisted of Chuck Tilley on drums, John Howard on bass, Steve Hornbeak on keys, Eric Horner on acoustic and myself. Chuck, John, Steve Hornbeak and I remain brother-like friends and still play together to this day. But that's getting ahead of myself...
In 1992 I quit Lee's band to join Pam Tillis' band. I spent a year or so with Pam. During this time I made another acquaintance that would change my life forever. Pam was an Arista artist and the president at the label (and the man who built the label from nothing) was Tim Dubois. Tim gave me an opportunity to make a record as a solo artist on Arista in 1993. That record deal never saw the light of day, but my relationship with Tim is one that I am truly thankful for.
(It's worth mentioning that during this time, my mom Sharon, Moose, my sister Deanie and her husband Rick, all moved to Nashville around this time. It was so great to have family so close again.)
After Pam I began to pursue my songwriting. I still played on the road doing dates with Olivia Newton-John, Faith Hill, Tanya Tucker, Suzy Boggus, Randy Travis, Sherrie' Austin, and others. But, songwriting and producing were starting to call to me stronger than ever before.
SONGWRITING AND THE HARD DAY'S NIGHT CLUB
It was during this time that I met another songwriter/artist who was playing a solo piano gig at a restaurant/club by my house. Phil Vassar came to my studio one day as a hired vocalist to sing a demo for a client of mine. We instantly hit it off. I went to see him play at the Courtyard Cafe'. I got up on stage with him that night and played with him for the next 5 years. We opened our own nightclub called "Hard Day's Night Club". We wrote tons of songs together. One day we happened on a song that ended up getting in the hands of Tim McGraw called "For A Little While". In the mean time, Phil's songwriting career had completely taken off. He followed that success to a record deal which eventually ended our run with the "Hard Days Night Club". However, there hardly a time that Phil and I don't bring up something that happened during those days. We had a ball.
I used a lot of my "For A Little While" money to buy a Pro Tools rig for my house. For those of you who don't know what that is; it's a digital workstation. A computerized tape deck, if you will. The learning curve is really steep, but once you get the hang of it, it's an absolute necessity in the studio. I would daresay that 98% of the records you hear are recorded using Pro Tools. It's the industry standard, so I figured if I was going to run with the big dogs, I'd better get off the porch... I was co clueless about Pro Tools at the time that when I first had it delivered, I had to call the guy and ask him how to turn in on! Now I'm the tech support guy for all of my friends who have been buying rigs. It's the studio version of paying it forward, i guess...
John Howard, Chuck Tilley and I began toying around with a couple of band projects. There were a couple of versions of it in the beginning with me being the front man/lead singer. Through a "cattle call" type audition we had the amazing good fortune to run across a guy named Robb Houston. He sang high as a girl and played perfect guitar. He was hired on the spot before we even knew a thing about him. Turns out, he is the greatest guy and his personality fits ours like a glove.
After realizing that as a front man, I was a really good side guy, I decided to replace myself and move to the role that I was more comfortable. I wanted to be the creative leader of the band. I wanted to write and arrange the songs, produce the record and sing harmony... I just didn't want to be "The Guy" anymore. So I asked our good friend Andy Childs to join us. Initially we were "The Remnants". We were playing everywhere around town that would hire us until eventually settling on Douglas Corner Cafe. Under the watchful eye of our "executive producer", Tim Dubois, we played there every two weeks and were developing quite a buzz around town. After a fateful phone call with Warner Brothers A&R rep, Paige Levy and a visit to Douglas Corner by Warner Brothers then president Jim Ed Norman, we landed a record deal.
We changed our name to "Sixwire" (our pet name for a guitar) and recorded a record and put out our first single and video. "Look At Me Now" made it to number 25 on the R&R chart. However, sometimes no matter how much time and hard work you put into a project, the record deal gods don't smile upon you. We lost our record deal soon after our first single died. I don't regret any of it. I was on the road making music that I created. I was doing the road thing for myself for the first time, with my best friends in the world. There was no better feeling.
As for "Sixwire", we've just recently decided to take up where we left off. It's been a couple of years and it just feels like it's time to start playing again. Who knows, we just might end up back on the radio again.
After all of dust settled down, so did I. I now enjoy my writing and producing career. I'm engaged to my beautiful fiancee' Reagan Goans. I have a great house with a couple of cool dogs, great friends and new opportunities every day. My family moving up here as well has made Nashville feel even that much more like home.
I write songs and I produce records when the opportunity arises. Chuck, John and I play every chance we get with the "Small Time Rock Stars". (See the "Small Time Rock Stars" page) I also have had the great priveledge to work on several TV shows. It all started with Nashville Star for 3 seasons. Then I was the Music Director for "Can You Duet' on CMT followed by a couple of episodes of American Idol. Currently I am Music Director on "CMT's Next Superstar". The television work has been a lot of fun. Sixwire is adding new dates all the time and we've begun writing so we can record a new project.
Well, that's my story... I can't believe you sat through the whole thing...
Thanks for your curiosity...