I was born in 1964, the year the Beatles first came to America. What does this mean? Nothing. I just think it's cool.
In the 1970s, when I was finally tall enough to reach the keys of the piano, I started figuring out how to play the songs I heard on the radio. At 16 I got my first guitar, and I used to sit on my bed for hours figuring out the chords to my favorite songs. (Sometimes I still do.)
In the 80s lip-sync contests were all the rage. I won enough contests as Bruce Springsteen to buy myself a keyboard and even got called to be on "Puttin' On the Hits" (anyone remember that?). I didn't want to be known as a lip-sync act, though, so I said no. And to think I could have been the next Milli Vanilli. (If you don't know who that is, you definitely don't remember "Puttin' On the Hits".)
I started songwriting on the keyboard, and my friend John Portuondo and I composed a song that was chosen as the official song for the commissioning of a WWII battleship, the U.S.S.Leyte Gulf. It was sung by Juan Secada (before he became known as Jon Secada), and the song was performed by the U.S. Navy band on the day of the commissioning. (Writing a song that Jon Secada sang is pretty much my claim to fame!)
I didn't have a band yet, so I wrote some songs and played the parts myself on my first home-made album "On My Way". The keyboard's electronic innards sparked my interest in computers, which eventually led to my career choice as a server engineer. Meanwhile I was able to express my music and my faith by playing in and directing a couple of guitar based choirs at Church. John and I tried making several bands work as well, but we always seemed to find the most talented but unreliable musicians in Florida. Eventually the music went into hibernation. Until...
One fateful day a friend and coworker asked if I would pull out the old 80s lipsync routine for a benefit show at the company. It went over so well that I ended up playing in and eventually directing the live band for the next 5 years (see pics and archived videos). I was asked to join several bands after that, but I didn't want to relive my previous band drama, so I decided to go solo, and I've been happily gigging ever since!
I got to play every imaginable event and became a regular at places like Jimmy Buffet's Cheeseburger In Paradise, Cafe Med at the Falls (later Bargello Bistro), Schnebly Winery, Black Point Marina (my home away from home), and several places in the Keys. (Shout out to Frank Bernstein, Iron Mike, Billie Jo, Jon Wubbena, and Connie Watson for all the work and the love over the years!).
In 2010 I won a national Ovation Guitar contest (see my winning entry on bottom of the videos page), the grand prize of which was an Adamas guitar that I got to customize myself. (Pics here).
A year later another musical dream came true when I married my soulmate Iris. How is this a musical dream? Ah! Like every musician, I dreamt of fame, fortune, any girl I wanted, and to change the world with my music. I'm not rich or famous, but I got the girl I wanted! (friendly tip: the opening chords to "Drive" by Incubus are better than any pickup line). As for changing the world with my music, that part comes later!
I had some songs left over from my band days, so I played the different parts again and recorded "D.I.Y.", followed by an album of acoustic covers, "Look Ma, No Band!", to reflect what I do at the gigs. And while I'm almost exclusively a solo act, in 2013 my friend Fernando Marrero and I auditioned for America's Got Talent as a duo, and we almost landed a spot on the show. (One more round!)
In 2015 I suffered an unexpected back injury that forced me to stop performing, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it gave me the down time I would need (two years) to write and record an album that summarizes the whole Bible story, which I had taught on and off over 30 years. I finished writing it in 2017 and started performing it in 2018 at different churches as my back began to heal.
In 2018 I auditioned for and got accepted to join Musicians On Call, a volunteer organization that brings live music to patients at health care facilities. That's the changing the world part, and it is the most fulfilling gig of my entire life.
In 2020, after much prayer and deliberation, and with my wife's support, I made the jump and retired from my day job (shout out to my Assurant family!) and I am finally a full time musician, truly living the dream. So if you need a live musician, like the Boss says: This gun's for hire!
Finally, with the advent of COVID-19 (a month after going full time with the music!), similar to when I was forced to stop performing before, I decided to take advantage of the unplanned down time and record my Bible album with just me and the acoustic guitar, the way I do it live (now available!). I also played a couple of social distancing concerts from my driveway for the neighborhood as we all eagerly wait for the quarantine to end.
And on that note, this musical bio comes to a close. Thanks for reading!