I started playing music at an early age: piano at age 6, violin starting at age 9. I was very involved with the violin and classical music through high school, and played in several orchestras, including the all-state orchestra for accomplished high school musicians.

After leaving home and going to college at the University of Washington, in Seattle, I was exposed to conga drumming and percussion at “jam sessions” in the streets and parks. It was 1968, and our “cultural revolution” included plenty of hand drumming.

During these “hippy days”, I went to live on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands, and really began drumming there. We carved and skinned our own drums. We made these drums the “old-fashioned way” from the ground up. Although my drumming at this point was unschooled and chaotic, there was a spirituality that was particularly alive in those drums.

After about two years of “thunder-drumming”, I sought instruction on the conga drum. I was exhilarated not only by learning how to play, but also by the African music and culture from which this drumming has come. I began studying the evolution of the drum in the Americas: It’s development and historical documentation of the mixture of races and cultures with the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean, South America, and the United States. This history of migration and mixing of peoples, as reflected in the drum repertoire, and drum culture, stimulated a very strong feeling in my own self, and in my own heritage, which is a mixture of European, Native American and African ancestors.

After playing for around 8 years in Seattle, I moved to the SF Bay Area to study Cuban drumming with Marcus Gordon. It was 1975, and I became immersed in the rich tradition of Cuban drumming and religion.

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