My first musical memory was of my mother, Jane, a nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn, playing Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" on a tinny old Baldwin upright piano. The performance was far from perfect, but I will say, and this isn't just because she's my mother, that what her playing lacked in technique, it made up for in heart.
On the contrary, my father, a Sicilian weight-lifting fanatic, couldn't carry a tune on a flatbed truck. He was responsible for getting that old piano into our lives, though. In 1979 my uncle traded it to him for two 35lb dumbbells and a bench press.
We moved from Brooklyn to Long Island. It was there where I spent the rest of my terribly normal adolescence stealing golf carts, taking piano lessons, losing my virginity, discovering the art of self-medication and playing in less-than-extraordinary high-school rock bands.
Then I graduated.
From there I went to Berklee College of Music. I fell face-first into Thelonius Monk, Oscar Peterson, Stan Getz, Bill Evans, J.D. Salinger, Jaco Pastorious, Tom Waits, Fats Waller, Kurt Vonnegut, Loudon Wainwright, and Miles Davis.
These men are heroes. They should wear capes.
They, along with my mother, taught me that the most important instrument you should use when performing is your heart.
Currently, I am planning to release an EP worth of ballads this October, the HOTEL CAFE U.S. tour 2006 this fall, and a European tour in November with the boys from the HOtel Cafe as well...