I grew up in Oak Park, IL just outside of Chicago. I began teaching myself guitar in 1973 when I was in seventh grade. My older brother bought a Bob Dylan song book and I learned damn near every tune in it. By the time I graduated from St. Ignatius High School, my band The Restless Youth, was playing talent shows, school dances and unsupervised house parties.
I moved to Carbondale, IL to attend SIU and after graduation formed a band with Phil Bayer, Kevin James and Chris Obren. We called ourselves the Modern Day Saints and spent the next five or six years driving around the country in a converted school bus playing corner dives, road houses, nightclubs, colleges and the occasional theatre. It was our only source of income. The four of us had very different rock ‘n’ roll tastes but we merged at Neil Young, the Who and the Stones.
We recorded a slew of original music and in 1989 moved to Los Angeles to sell it all to the highest bidder. We lost Obren to fatherhood and gained Rob Pierce on drums. We enjoyed a rabid LA following as regulars on the Sunset Strip but the bidders weren’t high enough. After a long residency at the Whisky-a-Go-Go we broke up in 1992.
In 1994 I moved back to Chicago and reconnected with James and Pierce to form the roots rock group, the Yellowhammers. In 1996 we released our debut LP, Suffer Fools Gladly, followed in 2000 with All the People Some of the Time, 2005 with Satellite and 2009 our eponymous album Yellowhammers, all on our own label.
In 2007 I released my first solo offering, Our Separate Ways. I had been writing songs for Modern Day Saints and Yellowhammers and in most cases those songs were sung by my very capable partners Phil Bayer and Rob Pierce respectively. On Our Separate Ways I gave my songs my own voice.
The band Cannonball came together by accident more or less. Andon Davis and I began playing a residency at FitzGerald’s Nightclub in Berwyn IL with some friends in 2009. The intent was to enjoy playing away from our respective regular bands and enjoy collaboration with other musicians. Over time our lineup became solidified with Tom Kneesel (pedal steel), Mike Kraniak (bass) and Paul Bivans (drums). Our residency is now in its fourth year.
Cannonball Fodder is my latest collection of songs. Just as the Yellowhammers were finishing our 2009 release I began work on a bunch of roots Americana songs I had written. Cannonball had been playing some of the new songs live, hence the album title. The record is produced by Jon Langford (Mekons, Waco Bros, Skull Orchard) and is our second project together. The music I find myself returning to over and over again is Hank Williams, Dylan and the Band, Neil Young’s Harvest era, Stone’s Let It Bleed era. This album shares those roots, sounds and structures.