I was born and raised in Livonia, NY. Growing up, it was sort of like
Mayberry without the southern accents.
Like many small towns, Livonia has changed a lot over the last couple of decades.
What used to be cow pastures are now tract housing developments. Super Wal-marts have made the small retail stores
in town a thing of the past, and expressways that make getting to Rochester a short trip have turned us into a bedroom
Now that may sound like I'm a little down on my hometown, but the truth is, it's still a great place to
live. I've traveled all over this country, and throughout Europe. I still manage to find my way right back
to Livonia. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Fast Forward through the first 30 years or so.......
In 2001, after a lot of difficult and emotional meetings, my family decided that it was time to sell
our company, West Beer Distributors, which my grandfather had started 65 years earlier. I was, in
effect, unemployed! I had to figure out what I was going to do with myself.
Now I had been playing guitar since about 6th grade, but aside the Masonic Talent Show in high school (the
band I was in won, playing "Free Bird"), I had never performed in public. I started going to a local open mic
night just for something to do. To my surprise, a few people actually liked what I did. I met some really
good musicians, like Pete Collin, and was having a lot of fun.
One day, Pete and I walked into the Canaseraga Hardware and Coffee Company, and found a bunch of old guys
sitting around in a circle playing some old timey music. They invited us to get our guitars and join them.
I launched into a gut-busting Ray Charles number, and Pete followed it up with a finger numbing Michael Hedges guitar
solo. We scared the hell out of the old guys, but impressed the owners of the place, Al and Patty Nobles
enough for them to ask us back. An act was born!
By the way, I still have a cassette tape of "Free Bird" from the 1985 Masonic Talent Show. If Billy Bean,
Clark Young, Kathy Riley, Matt Graf, or John Czudak ever become really rich and famous, I intend to blackmail them with this