What brought you to Japan?
I was studying in Switzerland and wanted to go back to California. I decided to take the
long way home via India and Japan. I bought a year open ticket, thinking I' be home in
two or three weeks. It took me nearly a year. I was impressed in Switzerland with the
guitars and gadgets that were coming from Japan. I guess I had an underlying interest from
childhood, too. I remember doing brush painting and origami as a child and a couple of
years of judo as an adolescent.
What do you do?
I have a recording studio in my house. I can make my CDs here. I record my music and
occasionally have customers. I've rearranged things so I have more room now and I've got
an acoustic piano and full drum set, so I'm hoping to draw some customers out here and do
more and more recording. My performance jobs are divided among three things: One man band
(vocal, guitar, bass drum, high hat and harmonica), Renaissance lute (in period costume),
and my Renaissance group La Primavera. La Primavera's members vary but we always wear
period costumes and play Renaissance music and a bit of Renaissance dancing. I always play
at events rather than traditional music gigs. I often gig with jugglers, magicians and
balloon artists. I really love it and have played all over Japan.
Why Renaissance lute, and how long have you been playing?
Why? Because the lute has a sublime sound and a huge repertoire of some of the greatest
music ever composed. I was familiar with Renaissance lute music because I played classical
guitar, which draws part of its repertoire from the lute. I was probably drawn to it
because of curiosity to hear the music in its original form and a yearning to be a bit
different, but I've developed a strong affinity with Renaissance music. I think the lute
repertoire has the perfect balance between mystery, challenge and refinement. That is, we
know more about it than medieval music, which involves a lot of guess work in regards to
instruments and how they were played, but we still have to figure out things, solve
puzzles and strive to recreate what we think they must have sounded like. Harmonically,
Renaissance lute music is similar to a lot of modern folk or pop music. There is always
room for improvisation, too, so that appeals to my rock en' roll roots. And then on
the serious side, the Renaissance masters reached a high water mark of western
civilization. If you were Super Lutenist, you could play a different masterpiece every day
of your life. I've been playing the lute since 1975.
Do you do any other work besides music?
I teach English in three universities and a rather special high school in Hanno.
What was the weirdest thing you've seen or experienced in Japan?
I had a one-man band job once where they said I had to be Russian. They said sing in
Russian or don't sing! Since my entire repertoire was songs, I had to do some fast
thinking. I played Classical Gas and some blues with my drum accompaniment then tuned my
guitar like a lute and played lute pieces with a beat.
What's the one thing you want to do here before leaving?
Make a rock band and release a CD on a major label.
What's your recipe for a happy and successful life in Japan?
Get out at least once a year, especially during allergy season.