2016 is only hours away and I find myself with a chance to reflect on the past year.
2015 was simply a crazy year. I clocked 34,000 miles of air travel! I returned from last year’s Euro-Trip with Taylor after January 1st, went to Trinidad for most of February and then travelled for recreation and a bunch of gigs in Colorado, New Mexico, Missouri and Texas. It’s almost strange that my first big gigs for 2016 will be in the Midwest, and that my first flight is for my buddy Nick’s wedding Las Vegas!
Some of the gigs I flew for last year are some of the highlights of my musical carreer thus far. Joining Paa Kow and his band has been fun and musically enlightening. I’ve gotten to play several really cool festivals with the band. The City Park Jazz Festival in Denver was an amazing experience. They had a great stage crew and drew a huge crowd of almost 10,000 people! Santa Fe Bandstand was another great experience. 2,000 people showed up for our show in Santa Fe’s famous central plaza and they were REALLY into the band’s performance! That performance held the record for Paa Kow Band merchandise sales! I played with other bands this year, flying to Trinidad to join Silver Stars Steel Orchestra for Panorama was another BIG highlight of my journey with the steelpan instrument. Going to Trinidad to witness (much less PERFORM in) Panorama was a life-goal and a pilgrimage I knew I needed to take. Europe and Trinidad in a 3-month span… what a quick way to shorten the bucket list!
My involvement in the OHS music program grew this year as well. The co-percussion director, Aaron Spevak, found himself a marching band job in the Baltic and a new university at which he will finish his collegiate studies. Since he wasn’t around as much this season, I attended more home games and competitions. It was a great opportunity to see the band’s polished product in performance! I also got to see the bands of several good friends of mine at the Panther Review and in competition. I also got the chance to build them an off-road multi-purpose trap table that currently houses the marching band synthesizer! I’m also experimenting to build them a waterphone… but that will finish up in the very first part of 2016.
In May I got to stop by the 63rd Street Percusison cajon shop to play a little rumba with cajon builder, Miko Spears. In our hanging out and playing, I picked up an endorsement and a new Quinto Cajon! Huge thanks to 63rd Street Percussion for your support of my music! Another endorser, Vic Firth Sticks and Mallets, has updated their website to include artist profiles. I’m in the process of updating it, you can find it HERE if you want to check in!
Some big things happened for my wonderful girlfriend Taylor as well! She purchased the quarter horse, Guapo, she trained as a part of her senior year at CSU. She was offered (and accepted) a job in New Mexico as Young Horse Trainer and Manager at Rancho Corazon.
Coming into the last part of the year I have gotten to play music with my good friend John Apple and his praise band at Springbrook Community Church in Plainfield. I’ve met some great musicians through that band and have had a lot of fun playing some not-so-typical church music. Another goal of mind had been to play a world music show on steelpan at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk. Paa Kow Band booked a gig to perfom on their World Music Wednesday Series, and I am honored that I got to finally play there! We actually have another gig booked for the end of February! Check Old Town School’s website for more information.
Another exciting project I was able to start before the end of 2015 was a great 4-octave bass marimba for local percussion teaching legend Ben Wahlund. We chose some modern custom colors for this vintage Bergerault bass marimba that will bring it’s appearance into the 21st century. This marimba will be featured at Birch Creek Music Performance Center and with the Chicago Youth Symphony’s Percussion Ensemble! That marimba should be ready for performance by mid-February.
Anyway, I think that covers the big stuff. Thanks for checking in on my website. As we get rolling into 2016 I will have more updates for my Schedule. I’ve only listed a few performances so far, but many are in the works – including a monthly jazz jam in the suburbs!
All the best to you in the new year!