Music in every aspect has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. Seriously— I've been the student, the teacher, the musician on stage (playing several different instruments), the composer, the emcee, the concert promoter, the band manager, the venue booking agent, the music journalist, the concert videographer, the fan in the crowd, the sound guy, the guy working the door, the recording engineer, and... what else is there? I've done it all. Below are a few more specific details of some of them. And, because I still get an email or two every year over the past decade from some music teacher or student thanking me— here is Dan‘s Music Theory Cheat Sheet PDF.
I love the linearity of learning to piano. It's easy for a novice to play an easy song, while some pieces are virtually impossible to play. Having played piano and keyboard for over twenty years now on my own, as a piano music major a SCCC, and in my own bands (Suite 24, Late Like Us, Geno K Experience, and J-Page), I'm often asked to sit in with bands both live and in-studio. I do it when I have the time, which isn't very often. These days the most I get to do is play intro music pieces for the regulars at my open mic.
Open mic host
It's still hard to believe I've been running the open mic just about every week for more than twelve years now. More than 600 open mics in all so far. Over 6,000 performances that I announced, ran sound for, and/or had some part in putting together. If you're interested in reading about its history, there's a write-up at Rkstar.com from the summer of 2012 when we celebrated the 500th open mic. Over at Facebook you can watch hours of video of dozens of the performances. Or, if you prefer, there are a lot of them over at YouTube as well.
It's rare to find a musician that only plays one instrument. After piano, my go-to instruments are bass and guitar. I guess there isn't too much to say about it, I can hold my own and I was the bass player for Geno K in the mid-2000's, and play guitar for a handful of songs with Suite 24.
It feels like I've been putting together concerts for as long as I can remember. From some big concerts at RPI in Troy while I was on the UPAC Concert board (like They Might Be Giants, Sponge, and Cracker), to hundreds of concerts while I was booking shows seven nights a week at The Larkin in Albany (like Erin McKeown, Andrew Bird, Vienna Teng, Sarah Slean, Ember Swift, Patti Rothberg, Sean Rowe, Jes Hudak, Sirsy, David Poe, Westbound Train, Ari Hest, Jenny Owen Youngs, Mieka Pauley, and Stephen Kellogg), to when I was putting on the Van Dyck concert series (with acts like Michael Glabicki and Sean Rowe), to my own one-off shows (featurings bands like The Toasters and The Slackers), to booking tons of concerts by bands I manage myself (like Monkey Gone Mad, Paddy Kilrain, Suite 24, and Late Like Us). A good concert promoter is one who can understand the needs of both the performers and the venue, able to get the word out about the show, and make sure everyone leaves happy at the end of the night. That's what I do.
I'm not sure where to begin when it comes to sound recording/engineering and I. As a kid I recorded songs I wrote to audio tape. In high school, I started working with digital sound, learning the basics of bit-depth, frequency, lossy compression, etc. Later, I was one of the first people posting audio to the web with my music zine' music samples and interview clips. I became the sound guy at The Larkin and The Van Dyck, where I ran the sound for acts like Erin McKeown, Andrew Bird, Vienna Teng, Michael Glabicki (of Rusted Root), Sarah Slean, Ember Swift, Patti Rothberg, Sean Rowe, Paddy Kilrain, Monkey Gone Mad (you really don't earn your "sound guy chops" until you mix a 10-piece ska band), Jes Hudak, Sirsy, David Poe, Westbound Train, Ari Hest, Mieka Pauley, Stephen Kellogg, and literally hundreds more. I've run the sound for the Rkstar open mic for over a decade, where the number of performances are pushing 10,000. And my recordings of open mic performances to the performers over the years are in the hundreds, some of which even got commercial radio airplay. I've also "studio" multi-track recorded and mixed my own bands' songs with GarageBand, using both its line-in and MIDI recording.