Q: What inspiration and values do you live by?
A lot of my art is inspired by the moon. Aside from my music, I like poetry, philosophy, surreal art, medieval architecture, sensuality, and humor. My friends that are left have to bear the burden of my humor and my puns. I get comedy ideas everyday. If I had the budget, actors, and a production company, I’d be in the funny business. I’m big on irony and dark humor, and I’d love to produce comedy videos similar to Monty Python or Mad TV.
I don’t like arrogance, dogma or superficiality. I feel like time is short and life is passing fast. I’m looking for meaning and fulfillment every day. I believe in saying “hello” and “goodbye” and making eye contact with friends and strangers. It’s an honor thing.
Q: What are some lesser-known trivia tidbits about yourself?
I’m 5’9”, I like to smoke cigars, and I speak Spanish, Italian and English. I have lived in Naples, Salerno, Rome, Perugia, Yakima, Spokane, and Seattle, and I’m grateful my guitar has taken me to visit many cities around the world.
I have a propensity toward vintage things and yesteryear in general. I love classic cars and own a 40-year-old German classic. My favorite movie is Being There starring Peter Sellers, and my favorite book is Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Rilke.
Q: What was life like for you while growing up?
I was born in Naples, Italy. My father, Carlo, was Sicilian, and he just passed last year at age 97. He was a converted Baptist minister. My mom is a country girl from central Washington State. She’s 91 and is the sweetest, kindest person you’ll ever meet.
I have two older brothers and a younger sister, and they all are or have been in the ministry, carrying on the family tradition. I strayed to the woos of mysticism and gypsy guitar. Every family needs a “black sheep.”
As a child, I was a combination of a choir boy and Huckleberry Finn. Growing up in Rome, I was a competitive cyclist and a 100-meter sprinter. I collected rocks, amethyst, fool’s gold, thunder eggs, and obsidian.
Once when I was 12, a friend and I snuck into an amusement park after hours. We accidentally unhinged an old war cannon on the side of a hill. It went rolling rapidly down the hill into the darkness, and to this day we’ve never found out if anyone was hurt. We thought we heard sirens. There were a lot of stories like that, that my parents never had a clue about.
My father taught me to throw a hatchet as a kid, no joke, 30 feet away at a target. He also taught me how to play golf, and as a teen I was a competitive arm wrestler — something I don’t do anymore for the health of my hands.
Before I was a full-time musician, I worked some odd jobs that included picking hazelnuts in Italy, cleaning hotel rooms in Switzerland at age 16, working several restaurant jobs in the States, working at a women’s shoe store as a teenager, stocking shelves in a grocery store, and more. As an adult, I had a short 3-year career as a computer programmer.
At age 11, two years before a laid hands on the guitar, I had a serious accident. I lost the tip of my left index finger in a go-kart accident. It’s a little more than a quarter-inch shorter than my right index finger. This is something I rarely share with my guitar fans, as it can be a slight handicap sometimes, but I work around it. Look at Django Reinhardt — he became a legendary jazz guitarist despite losing use of several fingers.
Q: You mentioned you grew up in Italy. When did you move to the States?
I moved from Rome to Yakima when I was 17. Yes, you read that correctly — from a cultural mecca to the dry wine country, otherwise known as the Palm Springs of Washington.
Q: What were you up to after moving to the States?
Among several things, I was married during the 1980s for ten years. My hair fell out during that time. Before that happened, I have photos of myself sporting some crazy 80s haircuts. I think I looked like a dancer or a car salesman.
Q: What have you been up to recently?
I’m 55, I have two grown boys, and I am now the grandfather of two amazing new additions to the human race. In the last few years, I’ve been playing a classical concert in the Caribbean in February so I can get my sun fix. After nearly 30 years in the city, I’m moving to Whidbey Island for some quiet country living. I have a wonderful girlfriend named Molly.
Q: What is one thing you’re excited for in the near future?
I’ll be giving my first-ever TEDx Talk on November 18 at TEDxSnoIsleLibraries, which will be held at the Edmonds Center for the Arts. I’ll be exploring the healing powers of music through song and discussion. I hope to demonstrate how certain types of music can increase self-awareness and even empathy. I am passionate about this idea because I believe we are all connected as human beings, yet we still have so much pain and apathy in the world. This is my gift that I can pass on in my lifetime. When someone is touched by my music, it not only helps them, but it helps others in their life. If my pursuit of knowledge, beauty, and mystery can help bring more peace and honor, I feel like I’m fulfilling my mission in life with music.