Tell us about the CD cover and what inspired the images.
The title track of DISCONNECT was inspired by watching high school students walking home from school with their cell phones on their ears, seemingly oblivious to the world around them and to the friends walking with them. As I expanded my thinking to other ways in which modern technology has disconnected us from each other and from awareness of the world around us, I realized that there seemed to be a thread of connection and disconnection weaving its way through the songs I had already planned to include on the album. I followed that same theme as I chose the remaining tracks.
I wanted the CD cover to somehow capture the concept that our modern technology is disconnecting us from each other, so I discussed some ideas with Lisa Hoag (www.LisaHoag.com), a graphic design artist and photographer I’ve worked with on multiple projects. She explored a few possibilities with me and came up with a subway photo she’d seen that captured the concept well. She then photo-shopped it to emphasize “technology” and presented the idea to me. It was a perfect way to get the message across, and I loved it. However, we needed original photos to avoid any copyright infringement issues, so she went to New York City and rode the subway for three hours with her camera. The resulting cover expresses the concept brilliantly. Three other photos from the shoot are also included in the CD packaging.
Give us the most interesting back story or inspiration for writing, from this
I was selected as one of eighteen finalists in a Songwriter Showdown in Knoxville, TN, in
2011. I was eating breakfast at the very nice host hotel, and there were two obviously
wealthy women sitting across the aisle from me. I happened to hear one of them state
that she really didn’t care for the pillows. I chuckled to myself because my room had a
queen-sized bed with four pillows to choose from, and I immediately thought, “What a
great line for a song.” I wrote it down and tucked the idea away until I could visualize the
path the story would take. It became “Pillow.”
Do you play on your own albums or bring in studio musicians?
I play guitar on all of my recordings, and I occasionally overdub some keyboards. I also
have a terrific team of studio musicians to draw upon for a full band sound.
What is your idea of being “successful?”
My path toward a music career was very different than that of most artists, and I think I
have a somewhat different concept of “success.” Although I loved, listened to, and played
music for my own enjoyment and that of a few friends for most of my life, I didn’t jump on
stage until I was 55. That first evening changed my life. The amazing feedback from
audience members after my performance helped me realize for the first time that my
music could touch people’s lives and make a positive difference in the world. I grabbed that
opportunity to sing about issues and stories which are important to me and to use my music
as a tool for change. Every time someone tells me a particular song of mine touched them
so deeply that they cried I’ve succeeded. Whenever a song of mine resonates with audience members, and they seek me out after my show to tell me their own similar story, I’m rewarded. If I can give a struggling teenager hope across the airwaves, I’m successful. The list goes on, and there’s no way to quantify any of it, but I love being able to share my music with the world.
What is your proudest career moment so far?
I was named OUTStanding OUTMusician at the 7th Annual OutMusic Awards (2011) for my music and accompanying activism with “Oh Bully.” The Awards are presented by LARA (LGBT Academy of Recording Arts). It was such an honor to be acknowledged for my work along with so many other talented award winners including Melissa Etheridge (Lifetime Achievement Award) and Chely Wright (Vanguard Award).
Have you always been openly OUT as a gay artist?
I was out of the closet long before I started performing in public. My first full-length album (JOURNEY - released in 2004) contained “Don’t You Understand,” a song that I wrote while actively involved in gaining marriage equality in my home state of Massachusetts.
Describe yourself in 5 words.
Guitar toting storytelling activist musician
What is something we may not know about you?
During my career as a retail pharmacist an armed robber confronted me one
evening demanding that I give him all my Oxycontin and Dilaudid
(both Schedule II narcotics). I locked eyes with him, refused and told him he was
messing with the wrong person. We had a major staring contest, and he finally
broke eye contact and said maybe he should leave. I told him that maybe he
should, and he turned around and walked out the door. He jumped in his vehicle
and robbed a different pharmacy about an hour later. The most off-the-wall song
I’ve ever written captures the incident. It’s called “Gun in Hand,” and it’s on my
Do you have kids?
I have a son. He’s in his late 30’s, and he’s an electro-mechanical engineer living in Colorado. He loves anything with wheels, especially off-road vehicles. I’ve also accumulated a few “unofficial” kids over the years who wandered into my life through various circumstances.
What was the boldest move you've ever made?
Leaving a lucrative career as a retail pharmacist and independent pharmacy owner to open a progressive bookstore and pursue a career in music. Many people thought I was crazy to do so, but I haven’t regretted the decision for one moment.