I was born a very old man. I spent several years that way until I decided that I had better experience childhood and it is a good thing I did because school was a much less expensive that way.
I was raised in central Minnesota in a family with 7 children, I am the youngest. My father was a Professor at St. John's University (SJU), Collegeville, Minnesota. My mother didn't have a job that paid money while I was child, but she got her master's degree in botany, and later went to work at Apollo High School and after that in the library at SJU.
We didn't have a TV for a long time, and even when we did we weren't able to watch it much. I do remember watching Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, and later President Nixon resign. I also remember watching old comedies on Sunday mornings, Laurel and Hardy, L'il Rascals, The Marx Bros. and a few others. I remember my dad laughing so hard he cried at the antics of Stan and Ollie.
I've always enjoyed fishing and when I was a boy I had a lot more time for it. My brother John and I used to get up at dawn and ride our bikes the mile up to Lake Sagatagan, on the grounds of St. John's Abbey. I still love to fish but have a lot less time for it than I used to.
About once a year I was allowed to stay for a week at my grandparents house. They lived on the shore of Eden Lake, near Eden Valley, MN. This was great because they really wouldn't let me do any work except mow the lawn, I was expected to fish as much as possible, and I once caught an 8½ northern (I know, I know, it's not that big. But the story of how I caught it is!), and another time a very large snapping turtle.
I started playing the baritone ukulele at the age of 7. This instrument is tuned like the four bottom strings on a guitar (if you are talking about looking at a guitar. If you are speaking about pitch, they are the 4 highest strings: D-G-B-E). As soon as my fingers were long enough I moved up to the guitar. My brother Paul is a master guitar player and my sisters all learned a bit at one time or another as did my mom, so I got it into my head that I should learn too. I had some piano lessons as well but they were way too structured and I didn't last long in them.
We had some guitar lessons for a few months and they went a bit better. They didn't last long either, but I got enough out of them to work on my own. I saved my money until I could buy a John Denver song book, he was my favorite performer at the time. Then I worked from the chord diagrams provided and learned to strum the songs. Almost as soon as I could strum comfortably I started writing my own songs, something I continue to do to this day. For years afterward I looked back with a sort of horror at the John Denver thing, but now I actually play some of his songs again.
Sometime in 1979 I started to work as a slave to a local Artist, Master Joe O'Connell. He taught me how to use chisels, make ink, print woodcuts, ...all sorts of artsy things. He also showed me how to live, and eventually how to die, with dignity. I worked for him regularly through high school and irregularly from that time until his death from esophageal cancer in October of 1995.
It was in that the latter part of high school when I first started to play the Banjo, I learned a bit from my brother but mostly from my friend Mike Ricci who was (and probably still is) a great banjo player. I built my own from a kit and still play it (much to the annoyance of my family).
I attended St. John's University, Collegeville, MN. It took me 4½ years but I managed to obtain a bachelor of arts degree in fine arts. Some of the highlights of my college career were the study-abroad trips I took, seeing parts of England (twice), Scotland, Wales, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy (and the Vatican City), Greece, and Turkey. And Some of the bands that I played in were quite fun (and loud).
While in college I took a lot of music theory, 2 years of it. And I played in pit-orchestras for some of the college plays, took a January-term class in jazz improvisation and I also had keyboard training but had to leave-off after a while due to some carpal-tunnel problems with my wrist.
During those Summers I worked as a lifeguard at the SJU beach and pool. It was at the beach in the summer of 1984 that I met my wife, Monica. She was a regular "beach bunny" and on our first "date" we took a canoe ride across Lake Sagatagan and a picture of us in the canoe made the front page of The St. Cloud Times. We took this to be a sign and immediately married 6 years later.
In the 18 or so years we have been married we have bought a house in St. Joseph, birthed 3 talented, beautiful and extremely smart daughters; Emiliana, Leela and Maura.
I've played various bands ever since 10th grade, for varying lengths of time. Some of my favorites were:
"Oasis" (this was in 1982-83), a country-rock and bluegrass band featuring my brother Paul on fiddle and guitar, Mary Hunter-Hill on vocals and guitar, the late Glen Imholte on drums and I played bass guitar.
"Western Express" which had two brothers and their nephew being the core of the band and my friend Greg Page, an extremely talented percussionist, on drums. I played keyboards.
"Humor in Uniform" was a really cool Midwestern neo-psychedelia band featuring Joe Breur, one of the most talented guitarists I've ever heard, Jim LaVigne played great bass, Greg Page on drums and I played keyboards and a bit of guitar.
"The Waltons" was a funny cowpunk band, Nate Luther was the freaky long-haired singer, Dave Weiland on drums, Jan Whitehill played bass And I played loud guitar.
"Clean Fill" Glen Hanson on lead vocals and rhythm and lead guitar, Bruce Walters on lead guitar, Jim Caron on percussion and I played bass and sang backup. We were famous nation-wide for our 1990 two-state, two-city North American tour. Our major venues on the tour were Loso's Pub in St. Joseph, Minnesota, and Zoe's Bar in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. The tape of our last gig has enjoyed a limited release, entitled "Final Dump."
My all-time favorite band was one that was rather dysfuctional, "The Wildebeats". We'd been getting together occasionally and doing some recording but never managed to get a CD out. About 1/3 of our repertoire was music that I wrote as was all of the stuff that we recorded. Bruce Walters now takes the award as most talented guitarist that I know, Dale Laudenbach is the most solid rhythm guitarist I know (I helped teach him!) and Jim "the greeber" Caron takes the cake in drumming. I hope that someday soon we can get back together for a reunion gig somewhere.
For the past 4 years or so I have been playing in a "Folk" Trio. My Brother-In-Law Patrick Dwyer plays mandolin and fiddle, Br. John Hanson o.s.b. plays guitar and I play guitar, banjo, harmonica and kazoo. We are calling ourselves "Collegeville Station."
I also play solo gigs at coffee houses, parties and weddings.
In 2004 I started taking a Martial Arts class as a way of getting my dear daughters some self-defense training and I sort of fell in love with the style, Quan Li K'an. On December 20th, 2007, I was awarded a Black Belt. Now I am student teaching and preparing to get my second Dan, hopefully sometime in 2009. It has taken me to places far from home- in both 2007 and 2008 I was pleased to be part of tours of Ireland, Scotland, England and Germany giving seminars and also learning from the friends we made there.
During our 2008 tour I was lucky enough (with the help of my friend Kolja Kassner) to give a concert in Hamburg, Germany which was the International (pre)release of my new CD “The Road Ahead”.