"My Day Job" is outside the realm of most professional musicians. In 2009, I became a bit restless and the curiosity to explore outside my comfort zone became so strong that I decided to act on it.
I've been a musician since the day I was born and questioned if I was capable of doing other things. Most professional musicians teach as their day gig - I did that too and enjoyed it very much but I believe that the mind has to have variety in order to fully feed the expressive side of art. So, I dropped completely out of the music scene to focus on answering those types of questions. I’ve always wondered if I had what it takes to be a firefighter. So, I put myself through the fire academy to find out. After completing the fire academy and paramedic school I was hired as full time firefighter/paramedic in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex. I worked hard and I think I excelled at it and continue to grow and gain more experience all the time. In the years following, I received certifications in high angle rescue, heavy machinery extrication, swift water rescue and confined space rescue, to name a few and was awarded "firefighter of the year" in 2011. The thousands of calls I've been on are completely different then the life I was use to in the music/art world. In the course of my fire/paramedic career I have had the opportunity to participate in saving many lives and have seen many perish. The experience is intense. I think of my fire service career and music career as necessary balance providing support and space for each to grow independently and to reach full potential.
In music, I experience art and intangible successes and failures; most of which goes unnoticed by others but fulfills a personal growth. In the fire service, I experience the concrete, very tangible and obvious hard work that it requires that others see and appreciate. To me, that's the balance I need to become a "great" musician rather than just a good one, which has always been my ultimate goal in life. I believe that after a certain point in one’s artistic quest, life influences music as much as practice and after a certain point, even more so. I was at one of those places where life needed to became more influential to my art but too much life in the practice room was beginning to suffocate life's participation in my art. In order to grow to the next level, I had to experience life at its most intense level so I could continue searching for clear perspective in music.
In 2015, I moved forward again and joined the United States Antarctic Program to spend 5 months in Antarctica serving scientists and their support staff as a paramedic firefighter. It was the most interesting job I've ever experienced. I didn’t have a vibraphone with me but I did have a small keyboard and I practice and explored new avenues of music every day on it. I spent most of my time writing a new book of music patterns. My musicianship was increasing in huge leaps.
When I return to the states in March, I immediately began polishing up with serious practice on the vibraphone again and playing a few gigs and master classes. I knew I was on the edge of a new beginning with a reemphasis on music and a completely different take on improvisation and solo vibraphone playing. I will play anywhere there are ears to listen - from street performing to large venues and colleges.
I spent most of my time and energy designing and building a new vibraphone to take with me on my next deployment to Antarctica scheduled for November of 2016.
In November, the Antarctic vibraphone was ready. Some parts had to be shipped and some went with me as I traveled. This was to be two, 9-month deployments over the next two years and I had to have a vibraphone stationed there to practice.
In November, I arrived in Antarctica and my vibraphone arrived shortly after. In addition to firefighter/paramedic and Medical Officer with Antarctic Fire Department, I also served as paramedic rescue on the Antarctic Search and Rescue Team.
Being a member of S.A.R. is a fantastic opportunity to learn things, do things and see things that very few people get to experience. We train every week for long hours in some of the most beautiful scenes on the planet. We learn things using ropes, snow anchors, radar and other equipment while conducting crevasse rescue and searching for lost victims during amazingly difficult conditions.
My day job is unique and I believe it will be the new seed of my music to come.
In October of 2017, I begin my third deployment. My vibraphone is already there waiting. I’ll spend my musical energy finishing writing music books I started but with a new emphasis on inspired music compositions from Antarctica that I can perform on tour when I return in 2018. From isolation and seclusion to camaraderie, danger and beauty, the seeds for personal, expressive music have been planted.
Below are several photos and a couple videos of only a few of the scenes of my "Day Gig". The short video directly below was a training scenario with S.A.R.. Our mission was to locate a lost victim in Zero Visibility during a Condition 1 Storm using radar, radio frequency finder and GPS. It was late summer.