CLUB AND CONCERT PIANIST
I was getting my degree in mathematics at the University of Florida and playing six nights a week at local bars for $15 a night. I wanted to play but was always too insecure to do it full-time so I took a job across the country teaching at a private school in Beverly Hills. I started playing immediately. I left teaching and started selling for Xerox and kept playing. I drove a taxi for a while and kept playing. Always six nights a week. But kept going back to another job. Just couldn’t personally handle not knowing where my next penny was coming from.
It wasn’t until about 15 years ago in my mid-50s that I committed to playing full time. I’ve been able to play with some great performers, like Nancy Wilson, and with a lot of great players, guys who toured with name acts. My trio with Adam Cohen on bass and John Stuart on drums has been together for seven years – and when we can use a singer, it’s seven-time Grammy nominee Billy Redd. We’ve played the Terranea Resort in Redondo Beach for six years and are getting ready for our 52nd concert that we do for local charities, mostly for the homeless and food banks. I do my own promotions. I’ve got a list of about 500 names that I work. It’s the only way to get people there.
Those six-night-a-week jobs don’t exist any more in LA. In the ’80s they changed the drinking laws and you couldn’t smoke anymore in the bars, so the clubs went from being huge to small and that made it hard for musicians. A lot of places don’t even have a piano anymore. Most of my friends who are making it are on the road.