Over the years, I've peformed in front of thousands - maybe even millions if you include television and radio - either in a band, a duo or as a solo act. Performing is always enjoyable, even on "slow" nights. I feel as though I give a little bit of myself away each time I perform and at the same time, I receive a little from those who come to listen.
If you have followed my career in music and have visited this website often, you can speak with certainty that my music is what has always defined me.
That may be changing.
In 2005, I found myself becoming an integral part of something far bigger than me.
So, what's happened?
Peace. Call it an awareness, an enlightenment, a discernment, but bottom line, it's peace. I usually don't discuss my personal life, but this year was a series of revelations that has brought me to a point where I feel the need to share this "metamorphosis."
Had you known me in my early twenties, you would have known me to be very firm, even rigid, in my thinking about music. "There's the right way and the wrong way to do things! Period." No "gray" areas. There was certainly not much room for compromise when it came to my musical career. As a band leader, I was not very flexible. That lack of flexibility proved to be, for the most part, very benificial because the end result was a quality musical product that was the envy of many other acts.
But not being flexible has its drawbacks. As I got older, I started to realize that some of my early career decisions did cause me, and others, some level of pain that might have been prevented, had I known then what I know now. Maybe being raised in a Greek Orthodox / Republican household had something to do with all this inflexibilty. (Ya think?)
As the years have gone by, I've started to realize that those "gray" areas in life that I so firmly denied in my twenties, is where most of life resides. Nothing is cut and dry. Idealistic thinking does not include the truth about how everyday life really works. We need more than a great family, a good job, a nice home and a great car, to make our lives complete. I've learned that all of us are born with what we need for the completion, we need only to choose to use this ability. We've even been shown how powerful this completion can be. Though many of us are not happy with where we are in our lives, we seem to be satisfied to maintain the status quo, forgoing the depth of thought necessary to grow and learn. My desire to go beyond the stagnation of day to day life is now as strong as my desire to create and perform music.
So, why am I telling you all of this?
Something deep inside of me has finally surfaced: The desire to serve, not just work, but really serve. How do I define "serve?" For me, serving is using the gifts you've been blessed with, to help those who are in need of those gifts. Whether it's performing music, working on computers, creating graphics for upcoming events or simply being there to listen to someone who needs an open ear and heart, serving has become a very big part of my life. The more I help others, the more I want to help. And amazingly, being of service to others never creates stress. Serving is both empowering and humbling at the same time.
Which leads me to where I am now.
As I write this today, February 17, 2006, I've just completed my fifth week as the full time Administrative Assistant to the Senior Minister at Unity of Columbus. Now before your imagination goes wild with this tidbit of information and you think that I've completely lost it, joined some cult, or I've become another radical, born-again Christian...
RELAX! Nothing could be further from the truth.
As many of you know, I've been the Audio/Video Director at my church for three years. I have also, on occasion, performed some of my original music at the Sunday Services, singing and playing the piano or keyboards, as well as playing bass guitar or drums for our Gospel Choir and Praise Team. Over the years, I've met many of the people who attend the church services and weekday classes and I've made some friends. I've also been involved with a commitee or two, one of which was the 2004 Ministerial Search Team that was responsible for bringing our current minister to the church.
Long story short, an opening was created for an Administrative Assistant and I submitted my resume, as did others. Because of my administrative, managerial, computer and communication skills, along with my firm belief in the principles and tenants of Unity, I was given the opportunity.
So why am I so excited about this?
As I've matured over the years, so has my need to work in a mature environment. The hectic pace of forty years in the music business - with the bar and pool room business thrown in here and there - and then the three years spent in the marketing and sales arena, taught me a lot about life, but not about living. Learning how to live came from learning and applying the teachings of Unity over the last several years. The peace that I'm now experiencing in my life is what prompted me to apply for the position. I've been given an incredible opportunity to be a part of "...something far bigger than me."
What makes working here different than any other "job?"
In a sentence: Being able to work in the same place that you serve is very rewarding.
Unity Church of Christianity, Columbus, Ohio, was founded in 1911. In 1976, the church moved into this building. The original structure was a mansion that belonged to a judge back in the mid 1900s. The church enlarged the structure by adding a sanctuary and fellowship hall, complete with a large kitchen. The front of the building is the mansion and the back of the building is the addition which includes the entrance to the sanctuary.
I've been given a large, beautiful office with excellent furnishings to do my work. Everyone has been incredibly supportive and helpful. Unlike working in Corporate America, the environment is completely relaxed. This is not to say that there isn't the proverbial "sense of urgency" that accompanies running any business. It's just handled very differently. This position has allowed me to create new systems for finances, including contributions and accounting. I also maintain the calendar of events, as well as creating much of the marketing tools used to promote guest speakers and workshops. Also, I created and maintain the new website, www.unityofcolumbus.org. My hours are flexible, so if I need to leave the church to take care of personal business, it is never a problem. Other than all of the pastoral needs, the day-to-day affairs of this organization are my responsibility.
Imagine: A rock 'n' roller for 40 years has now been given an opportunity to work in an environment where truth is paramount, kindness is abundant, and diversity is its greatest strength. Words can not describe how honored I am.
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FOG is going through some changes. Our bass guitarist, Buddy, wasn't happy with the band's "direction," and decided to move on. These things happen. With all the experience I've had in bands, this does not bother me. I completely understand Buddy's decision and I wish him the best in his future endeavors. This, of course, means working in a new member. We may have found such a person, but only time will tell if he is the right person.
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I had an opportunity to visit my oldest son, Adam, in L.A., in early December. He was in the middle of a terrible cold when I arrived so he wasn't feeling very energetic the first few days. However, he did surprise me with tickets to a Clippers v Cavs game at the Staples Center in downtown L.A.
Now I have to admit I'm a Lebron James fan, since he is from Ohio, but the Cavs lost that night. Lebron still scored over 30 points, but the team was flat. It was a great surprise and I once again thank you, Adam, for a good time. BTW - Adam had his camera confiscated by security so he didn't get many shots. You can check them out at his website.
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The recording studio got a bit of a workout this year. One act in particular, STURBRIDGE, really put my skills to the test. They are a medium-to-heavy rock group that performs nearly all originals. The lead guitarist / vocalist is Chad Warren. He is also the primary song writer for the band. I had the opportunity to hear them and I found myself intrigued by their sound. The drummer, Matt Gum, is steady and has some decent chops. He and Chad had obviously been working together for some time. They clicked. A few days later, I get a call from Chad. He tells me he is interested in doing a three song demo in the studio and has lots of questions, which I'm eager to answer. His enthusiasm overshadows his lack of studio experience and the whole project ended up being lot of fun. It's always very gratifying to be able to help young musicians. These guys were very receptive to new ideas and they ended up with a very good product. Here's a sample of a song called, "Here I Am."
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So it appears that the Band History section of my site seems to be moving in a new direction. I will continue to keep my fingers in music, working with others, and hopefully, get back to writing and recording a few of my own tunes. The ideas are certainly flowing more now than in previous years. There are also some new recording projects on the horizon with others.
Let's see where all this takes me...
Thanks for your continued support throughout years.