Thursday, September 19, 2019

Never Too Old to Rock and Roll

A Lifelong Love for Music
I've been playing piano since I was about 5 years old. My mother was a classically trained pianist, and my father was an operatic tenor who for a time had a small performing opera company. Neither were professional musicians, but both loved and played music late into their lives. They had me take classical piano lessons for about 6 years starting in grade school, but as I discovered rock and roll, I didn't want to play classical music anymore - I wanted to play the songs I heard on the radio. I'm not now and have never been a virtuoso. I've known a great many keyboard players with better skills than mine. But over time I became good at learning to play songs by ear and occasionally found some sheet music. Most of all, I enjoyed playing music that I liked to listen to written by musicians and composers I admired.
Ezra, Don, Nick, Jeff

Over time, I met other musicians and was lucky enough to play in a string of bands in my teens and twenties, many of which performed for the public. As I got into my late twenties, though, my wife and I were raising three boys and building our careers and my music took a back seat. I still had a piano in the house – actually the grand piano that my mother played and that I learned on – but I played it only rarely and almost never with other musicians. In 2011 and 2012 I briefly tried to get one of my old bands back together, but it fizzled quickly and then, very sadly, one of the band members passed away.

A few years ago, with my kids now grown and careers well established, it felt like time to play again. Some neighborhood guys had recently put together a weekly jam at which people would show up, call out a tune, and we'd all try to play it. Often it worked out well, and I was having fun. Over the weeks and months I began to shake off the rust and to play a little better, and slowly I got to know some of the players and found some had similar tastes in music and complimentary styles. 

The Mermaid Inn
Organically, in mid-2018, a few of us began to talk about putting a band together. Originally, this was a guitar player named Nick, a mandolin and lap-steel player named Don, a guitar player named Ezra who hosted the weekly jam, and me on keyboards. Don would sometimes play bass, and at other times my left hand would be the bass. We began to practice weekly, separate from the jam, and to develop a catalog of music that we could all agree upon. We went through a few drummers and eventually landed with a local guy named Jeff. Having met each other at the Sunday jams at Ezra's house in a town named Laverock, I began to call the band The Lava Rocks and the name stuck.

During 2019, the band really came together. We had moved practices to my basement where I had a PA and microphones, and we developed a catalog of 30 or so songs. The music is what most people call "Classic Rock," including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, The Eagles and others. We played a private party at my house to try it all out and it was well-received, and we recorded a few songs at a local recording studio and put them up on our new web site ( Next, we got booked at a local bar called The Mermaid Inn in Chestnut Hill late this summer. We invited friends and family and played a full show. People seemed to have a great time, which is the real measure of success as far as I'm concerned. Some photos from that first show are included here.

The Lava Rocks are having a blast. We range in age from late 40s to mid 60s, and none of us are slowing down. The Mermaid wants us back in the coming year, and we are talking with 3 or 4 other bars where we'd like to play in the coming months. 

The Lava Rocks - Ezra, Nick, Don, Jeff and I - are proof that you're never too old to rock and roll!

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