In 1991 I decided I wanted to start earning extra money doing DJ work. I had plenty of equipment and an extensive library of music that I accumulated when I owned my club in the late '80s. I contracted to do a church festival in Cleveland that summer. As the guitarist and I kept working together, it occurred to me that maybe we could perform at the church festival rather than me DJing it. It was okayed and we performed our first engagement as "Smith 'N' Kontras" in June.

We quickly put together a promotional package and had a photo taken of our act. The success of "Smith 'N' Kontras" became my top priority. By fall I had quit the pool hall and went to work full time as a musician once again. My partner did not quit his job for a few more months but by the end of the year, he too was ready to be a full time musician.

By 1992 "Smith 'N' Kontras" was booked solid. We were working at least three nights a week and sometimes as many as five or six. In the summer we sometimes booked a daytime job in one location and played again that night at another location. Two jobs in one day was not uncommon for us. One weekend we really pushed ourselves. We worked Friday night in one location, Saturday afternoon at another location, back to Friday night's location for a Saturday night gig, Sunday afternoon at yet another location and then Sunday night back at the first location for the third time. We did five engagements in two and a half days!

Here's a typical schedule for one month:



While we continued to write and record, I also found time to compose some music on my own. In 1992, one of my instrumentals was written for my wife when we first started dating. She was raving about Yanni one night over dinner and asked if I had ever listened to any of his music. I confessed that I had not which of course opened the door to "Well here, let me put a tape in. I think you'll enjoy it. He's very popular, you know." After listening to his music I decided that what he was doing was not all that difficult or creative. He was surrounded by great musicians and was well produced, but his compositions were really quite elementary.

Listening to this tape inspired me to compose a song for her. I got started around 6:30 one evening and the next thing I knew, it was dawn. I had recorded the entire song in one night. I titled it "Lonna's Theme" and presented it to her on her birthday. All discussions about Yanni ceased after that night. I do not think she realized that my real talent was composing instrumental music. She had only heard the "Smith 'N' Kontras" songs which were obviously lyric oriented and not nearly as complex musically. Little did I know, in 1992, that "Lonna's Theme" would be the composition that would inspire me to complete and release an all-instrumental CD in 2001.

In 1993, "Smith 'N' Kontras" continued to enjoy success. We were doing some traveling but since it was all one-nighters, we were nearly always back home the same night. It was a very rare occasion to have a gig that kept us away overnight. On a personal note, my vocal strength and endurance was improving tremendously working with a partner who had such an excellent voice.


This was also the year for a couple more personal compositions. "Mikey's Shuffle" and "Hypnosis" were both completed quickly and with minimal production. They appear on my 2001 CD but are retitled "Just For Fun" and "Lullaby In Rock" with very different productions. I remember making some cassettes of some of my music and handing them out to family members but I never did anything more with them because I was so heavily involved with the duo.