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Curriculum Vitae

2012 November 24
tags: ,
by honcho


First off, let’s clear this whole ‘doc’ thing up shall we? I hold no M.D. or Ph.D.  ‘doc’ is a nickname derived from a stage name, ‘dr alponse caspar mabuse’ . Film aficionados may recognize ‘Dr. Mabuse‘ as a character originated in German expressionist cinema by Fritz Lang. I’m rather embarrassed to report that this character was not the inspiration for my stage name. I did not learn about the character until well after my appropriation of the nickname. The origin is in 1990 when I joined a band with Tory Z Starbuck called ‘neXt rAdio’ . Tory preferred stage names and I selected ‘dr mabuse’ because of a reference to the name in the music of the Roto Rooter Goodtime Christmas Band. I loved the provocative saxohone  stylings of Geoff Cooper who had also adopted the name ‘Dr. Mabuse D.O.A.’ as a stage name.  Sheepishly I must admit  that I was so ignorant of world cinema in 1990 that I did not realize that Mr. Cooper’s nom-de-plume was a tongue-in-cheek jibe and not a real name. Thus ‘doc’ is derived from a borrowing of a borrowing.

The only reason that I stick with it is that, as a result of all the performances  during which I  was introduced as  ‘doc’, the majority of people who know of me,  know me by that name alone.

Oh well, I hear Engelbert Humperdinck is not his real name either. I guess things could be worse.

I was born in East St. Louis,  Illinois, (USA) . Apparently my influence was immediately prosperous and wholesome because just three years later, East St. Louis won the ‘All American City’ award.

I was raised catholic, and educated in a seminary. I accord much credit to the erudite clergy who taught me. The noble majority of them were disciplined intellectuals of the highest order. They demanded much from me and in return they cultivated an enthusiasm for knowledge in me that unquestionably improved my life. I am also blessed to be a very homely guy, as a teenager this blessing  spared me from the prurient attentions of the ignoble minority of them. Tragically a few of my better-looking classmates did not share my good fortune.

I consider myself a lifelong musician who makes a living as a technical handyman mostly in the field of software.

My childhood passions were in order: NASA, ‘modern*’ melodic music (mostly instrumental) , and reptiles. I got my first soldering iron in 1968, and my ham call letters in 1970. I had a draft card but was never selected.

I think too much is made about early musical ‘influences’. After all ‘influence’ is definitely not imitation, and an influence is just as likely to be an avoidance as an affinity. That said, in grade-school, my favorite records were by the Tijuana Brass. In high-school they were by Santana, Neil Young, Yes, Gentle Giant and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. By the time I was remanded to the custody of colleges (lots of them-  to my saintly parents financial chagrin!), my record crates were full of  Weather Report, Shakti, The Residents, Parliament Funkadelic, Thelonius Monk, Ornette Coleman, McCoy Tyner, Jackie McLean, Stevie Wonder, Jeff beck, Tom Waits and Ken Nordine.

I received training on ‘cello, trombone, string bass and guitar. I have added a serviceable level of skill on keyboard on my own. I also received what I now realize was a very advanced level of training in analog synthesis from Dr. Merrill Ellis at North Texas State University.  Merrill died before I realized how important these skills are to me. One of my deepest regrets in life is that I realized how much he’d taught and inspired me too late to express my gratitude to him.

I feel compelled to advocate for music education.  I was privileged to have had access to it from grade school through college.  With a few scant (but remarkable) exceptions I did not learn much music in the music schools, but I don’t believe that fact indicts the schools.   My true education in music happened by playing in groups with other musicians who were better than I was, usually quite a bit better,  and by practicing, alone and in private.  I’m probably a very bad student  and I think it’s only fair that the only person who should have to cope with teaching me is myself.  Some people have claimed that  I’m self-taught**  but I don’t feel right claiming that characterization either, because I learned so much from other musicians who were generous enough to tolerate me.  At the risk of careless omission I would like to list them here in chronological order: Dick Slackman, Eric Flake, Mike Maxwell, Tom Galvin, Larry Loyet, Greg Junker, Jack McEvilly, Dave Glauber, Merrill Ellis, Jim Tunnell,  Tim Walsh, Roger Kleier, Jim Sangrey, David Dee, Nick Costa, Lee Roth, Terry Riley, John Norment, Rich O’Donnell, Jerry Hunt, Tory Starbuck, Henry Claude, Min Xiao-Fen, Grant Richter,  Bruce McLaughlin, David Vosh, and Kevin Harris. I hope to add many others to this list before my time is up.  The bottom line is that I am now a well-educated musician even though I became so by a very circuitous route.

I lived, loved, and labored for most of my life in St. Louis,  Missouri and because I am a staid provincial Cancer, St. Louis will always be considered home to me. I have a family that I cherish in spite our differences and even more in spite of our similarities.

I love good art and I participate in music, prose and poetry, but confine my love of other art-forms to the role of spectator. (enthusiastic spectator if it’s good art!)

I like technology too. My NASA fetish was never fully extinguished, but I let my ham license lapse and moved down the spectrum to audio frequencies, where no license is needed (Badges? We ain’t got no badges!) .

I have pretty good teeth and speak a form of English passably well.




* ‘modern’ is a vexingly indefinable term. In this case it means that I had an early attraction to extended harmonies, especially those used in jazz & bossa nova styles.

**in fact I don’t think there is such a thing as a ‘self-taught’ musician. This is based on two premises:

1-Imitating sounds is an positive  evolutionary selective trait for social animals.

2-“Bad artists copy. Great artists steal.”  (Pablo Picasso)

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