DAY GIG Early in my career, I worked in architectural acoustics—designing treatments for recording, performance, and worship spaces. Now I do environmental acoustics— studies to evaluate how sounds from things like highways, wind turbines, mines, and amphitheatres affect people. It’s a nice way to incorporate my interest in math, science, and music into a reasonably stable career.
HOW I GOT STARTED I studied classical piano for ten years starting at age eight. When I was 12, my older brother started bringing home jazz albums. I sat at the piano and tried to figure out what was being played, and started to get a sense of what improvisation was all about. I played in my high school jazz band, and bought a Fender Rhodes my senior year. Later, I joined a rock band, and we played high school dances all around town.
BAND Steelin’ Dan is a Steely Dan tribute based in Sacramento, California. We try to be as true to the records as possible. This is some of the most difficult pop music, created by some of the best musicians in the world, so you have to put in serious time and effort to pull it off. The singers, horns, and rhythm section generally rehearse independently, and it all comes together on the gig. We play mostly at outdoor summer concert series, regional theaters, and casinos.
LIVE RIG My Yamaha S90XS covers all the sounds I need for the Steely Dan songbook, with great piano, Rhodes, and Wurly sounds, and it handles the occasional marimba and strings nicely. The onboard phaser and chorus are perfect. We always use a full sound system, so my Roland KC-100 amp is just a monitor. If space permits, I’ll bring JBL EONs to monitor in stereo.
INFLUENCES Les McCann was my earliest. Vince Guaraldi’s Peanuts music left an impression on me as kid, and increased my interest in jazz. I love the way Keith Jarrett makes the piano sing. One of my nearterm goals is to study Bruce Hornsby’s music in more detail.
WHY I PLAY Sitting at the piano feels like home. If my music makes just one person’s day better, I’ve succeeded.
MORE AT steelindan.com