Thursday, December 16, 2004

Cellodad's Musical background

I really don't want this to sound pretentious. I'm a real guy people just call Dave. But on paper, I have put together quite a list of accomplishments. But really, I drink my beer right out of the bottle (though I don't drink very often at all these days, got to keep sharp).

Professionally, I am an award winning advertising representative. I have been working in my chosen field since 1989. Newspaper ads sold and designed by me have won WNPA (Washington Newspaper Publisher's Association) awards, including a few third places, a couple of seconds and I recently won a first place (for use of color). More importantly, I make a living at newspaper advertising. My customers are happy, because most of the time, what I do helps them to make more money. I have a degree in Communications, Advertising Option from the University of Idaho, where I studied Public Relations, Journalism, Media Ethics, The Advertising Agency, and Media Planning among other things. I was also a member of Ad Club and PRSSA. I was a paid Arts & Entertainment writer for the college newspaper, the Argonaut. I was a volunteer for the college/community radio station KUOI FM Moscow, 89.3.

At the University of Idaho, I minored in music (cello performance). In my off-time, I was also the lead singer of a folk/comedy band (with my friend Dave Wascher) called The Forks (think of a toned-down Jack Black of Tenacious D, only circa 1988). We even played a wedding reception once. As a classical bassist, I played in the Washington-Idaho Symphony ("Eye Wash"). What about electric bass? I started playing bass in high school. My brother played drums and our friend John sang and played guitar. Man, we rocked hard. We played all our own songs too. We called ourselves a lot of things, from "Destiny" to "Black Velvet," but we didn't go anywhere. We didn't even try to, we were just playing for fun. I learned to play drums and guitar a bit too, because we used to trade off instruments. All of us had paper routes, which earned us money for our instruments (as well as BMX bikes, and skateboards).

Musically, I played cello with the Metropolitan Youth Symphony, then the Portland Youth Philharmonic Preparatory Orchestra (under Jacob Avshalomov), starting at an early age (I don't remember exactly). I took third place in a youth cello solo contest at Portland State University. While still in high school, I became a section cellist in the Mt. Hood Pops Orchestra, and was stand partner with one of my teachers, Karren Rhea. As a member of the Pops Players quartet as well as a family trio with my mom and brother, I played gigs at various businesses, restaurants and events. Once in college, I played with the Mt. Hood Community College Chamber Orchestra, which was a class also organized as a club by our instructor, Dr. Larry Zgonc (principal bassist with the Oregon Symphony). Dr. Zgonc also helped me locate and purchase the cello I own to this day, but that's another story. As a club, the MHCC Chamber Orchestra performed locally to raise money, which we used to tour ("TUR!") to Vancouver BC, where we played at the World Pavillion of Expo '86. It was Dr. Zgonc who recommended I study under cellist Dr. William Wharton at the University of Idaho (where I minored in music, cello performance). I played cello in the U of I orchestra as well as chamber music in the Dorian and Syringa festivals held there in Moscow, Idaho. I also played bass viol in the Washington-Idaho Symphony.

After graduation, I continued to play with the Mt. Hood Pops Orchestra, helping transform the advertising and printing of the programs as a board member and VP of Marketing at one point, and becoming co-principal cellist for a short time. Now an adult and a graduate, I still wanted to learn more, and spent my own money (something like $40 an hour, which was a heck of a lot at the time, but I was actually getting a deal and paying too little) to take private lessons from Jerry Bobbe, former cello prodigy and soloist for the WGN Symphony in Chicago (I hope I got that right). As a cellist, I learned a great deal from Jerry, in part because I paid such close attention to get my money's worth. It was Jerry who really turned me on to Bach's Six Suites for the cello, and gave me the courage to develop my solo skills.

When we first moved to Shelton, I played in the pit orchestra for a couple of high school productions, and began teaching cello, bass and violin lessons with ear training, music theory and advanced techniques. Over time, I developed a program of cello solos for a few local gigs (Tea & Crumpets, Hoodsport Marina Cafe, a wedding rehearsal dinner reception, Shelton and Harstine Farmer's Markets, Alpine Way Retirement Center, Old Town Hobby). I will be playing at Alpine Way again in January, and at the Robin Hood Restaurant & Pub on February 12 from 6-9 p.m.

The idea of being a professional musician (or artist, or writer, or game store assistant for that matter) seems crazy to me. I am definitely keeping my day job. But I am excited about music right now, especially cello.