My Bluegrass Beginnings
I was the first child born into the home of 'Sweetheart' Grace and 'Smiling Bob' French, whose names are inscribed on the first generation honor roll plaque at the National Museum of Bluegrass in Kentucky, USA. So naturally the first kinds of music I sang other than the National Anthem and church gospel, were country and bluegrass.
My father had the first radio show in Boston to feature bluegrass music, and I can remember how jamed that tiny little room got with all the radio gear, the one big mic in the middle, and the whole bluegrass band huddled around it making the most incredible music - live on the air! Pop featured bands up from The South and the few local acts he could find who played bluegrass. The folks at the labels weren't really on to bluegrass as a type of music yet, so when they sent him music to play on his show, they just sent him everything with the word "blue" in it. So he got heaps of blues and rhythm'n'blues recordings, which he passed on to us kids to play with.
I used to play them on my battery-powered, portable, plastic record-player, late into the night, huddled under piles of blankets to muffle the sounds.
From Bluegrass to Rootsy Blues
That music turned me away from the country and bluegrass of my upbringing, and at around the age of 14 I started playing solo in hoot'n'nannies, and coffee houses like the Club 47 in Boston and the Gaslight in NYC, thanks to my connections to agents via Mom and Pop. I played mainly acoustic folk and blues, a lot of which was original, full of pubic angst and public protestation of all things political and plastic. I thought I was a real "heavy" and spent an unbelievable amount of time practicing mean, hard faces in the bathroom mirror – to no avail. Some of the people I knew and worked with as a scrawny, bawling, teenage hippie became legends in the genre: Jonathan Edwards; Arlo Guthrie; Martin Mull; Peter, Paul & Mary; Rambling Jack Elliot; Tom Rush; Pete Seeger; The Smothers Brothers; James & Livingston Taylor;
To Electric Blues and Rock
Rock bands, soul bands, and r&b bands became my major forms of musical transportation in the late sixties through the seventies. I was singing in regionally popular bands who opened in concert to many big-name acts touring the Northeast, mostly booked by the Lordly & Dame agency out of Boston. Once again, I found myself rubbing shoulders with many blues and rock & roll icons. I went MIA from school and home when invited to join The Yardbirds with Eric Clapton (Brandeis University show, Boston, 10 SEP 1967), and twice for The Byrds (the Avalon Ballroom 2 NOV 1968, and the Boston Tea Party 22 FEB 1969) on tour.
To Recording Deals and Studio Session Work
Although I had been signed to labels as early as 1970, including the doomed Playboy Records label out of Los Angeles, my first major label album release didn't come until 1980. It was a Columbia Records deal, and everything that might have gone wrong from contractual terms to song choices, recording, release, promotion and follow-up, did. It was a 2-year nightmare scenario the effects of which reverberated for years throughout my professional career. Live gigs lost out to a flurry of studio work.
From The USA to Asia and Europe
The nineties found me in New York, involved in many musical projects which were only locally and regionally successful, until 1999 when I migrated to Asia and established a musical presence for myself in Singapore. I returned to perform in the States from time to time, and in 2006 decided to explore the music scene in Europe, I've been making an annual circuit of Asia, Europe and the USA, in ever expanding circles of music and friends.