Updated June 23, 2019: I'm first a musician but my "Day Job" is outside the realm of most professional musicians.
I've been a musician since the day I was born and throughout my life, I've often questioned if I was capable of doing other things and if so, how far could I go? Most professional musicians teach as their day gig - I did that too and enjoyed it very much but I believe that the creative 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 in 2009, I put myself through the fire academy to find out. After successfully 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 excelled at it. 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 911 calls I've been on are completely different then the life I was use to in the musical 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 consider my fire service career and music career as necessary to provide balance and space for each to grow independently and to reach my full artistic potential.
In music, we experience art and intangible successes and failures; most of which go unnoticed but fulfills a personal growth. In the fire/rescue/ems service, the challenges and rewards are concrete and very tangible. I believe that after a certain point in one’s artistic quest, life influences music as much as practicing the instrument and after a certain point, even more so. I was at one of those places where life needed to come to the forefront and feed the art but too much time in the practice room was beginning to suffocate life's participation in my music. 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 expression in music.
After 7 years, I joined the United States Antarctic Program to spend 5 months in Antarctica serving scientists and their support staff as a paramedic firefighter. My second deployment was October, 2016 for a 9 month deployment and I was added as paramedic rescuer with the U.S. Antarctic Search and Rescue Team and JSART (the Joint U.S. and New Zealand Search and Rescue team). My third deployment I was promoted to Lieutenant and EMS Officer for a 10 month deployment. I'm currently finishing up my forth deployment that began October 2018 and ends in July 1, 2019. The conditions in Antarctica are challenging to say the least but with challenges come the reward of meeting those challenges. I'll begin my fifth in October 2019 through June 2020. I've been able to write two music books while here in addition to getting a lot of good practice time. I'm scheduled to record my first album with audio and video in July at Pandhandler House in Denton, Texas.
Following my first deployment in 2015, I designed and built my "Antarctic PIPERvibe" so I can practice and write music while in Antarctica. It's the first vibraphone ever to make it to Antarctica and I've performed many concerts while here for the scientists and support staff.
When I return to the states following each deployment to Antarctica, I immediately began performing concerts and master classes. I will play anywhere there are ears to listen. My two lives make up the most interesting combination of professions I can imagine.
Below are several photos and a couple videos of only a few of the scenes of my "Day Gig" in Antarctica. The short video below and right side was a training scenario with Search And Rescue (SAR). Our mission was to locate a lost victim in Zero Visibility during a "Con-1 Storm" using radar, radio frequency detector and GPS.