Below the Radar
I have loved music from an early age - growing up in Baltimore, MD - the oldest of three sons of deaf parents, I started playing the trumpet in the third grade at Leith Walk Elementary School, and this lasted until seventh grade - junior high school - when I gave it up. But my best friend, Page Haacke, talked me into picking it up again to be part of a soul band being formed by his brother and friends - 'Bill James & The Expressions' - playing music that Page & I loved - James Brown and especially the Stax/Volt Memphis sound of Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, and Booker T & The MG's. In 1964 the Beatles hit and like millions of other kids, I got a guitar (an acoustic Stella) which led to various guitar-based rock bands - beginning with 'Uppinsmoke' & 'Taproute'. It was during this time that I met an amazing young bass player who was switching to electric guitar - Hiram Bullock. A band I was in just had to have Hiram, so I switched to the electric bass - the band self-destructed but I continued to play with Hiram in several jam bands before becoming part of 'Gabriel' - with the fabulous McCusker brothers Phil & Terence, as well as wild-man Rody Barthelmes on keys and Mike Jones on vocals. Unfortunately 'Gabriel' broke up with everyone going separate ways - and I joined the Top40 band 'Raintree County', before moving on to the country rock group 'Trigger Happy' for several great years. It was during this time that I met and had the pleasure of playing with Michael Hedges - in duo settings, trios (with guitarist and dear friend Scott MacLeod - who I had played with in earlier groups) and as a band (with drummer Stanley Hall). As Michael finished his musical studies at Peabody and moved on to much warranted recognition & success with Windham Hill Records, I met singer and songwriter Teresa Whitaker, and started out in her trio which subsequently became 'As The Crow Flies', performing in various local venues in and around Baltimore. Teresa & I married in 1981, had two children - Zack & Jevan - and kept up our music in a weekend-wedding-band 'Relay' which went on far too long. During this time we formed the 'Earth & Sky Consort' performing original music with an environmental theme and an eclectic mix of musicians - including Paul Levin on the Irish uilleaan pipes. It was along with Paul that I later had the chance to join the Original O'Malley's March trio formed by Martin O'Malley. A significant job change brought Teresa & I to Connecticut in 1994, where Teresa has been blossoming in her music and storytelling career. For the past few years, I have been reconnecting with my musical roots, playing bass, writing songs on the guitar and learning to play the old-time style clawhammer banjo and mandolin. I have been playing with a standards/original instrumental jazz group 'Sometimes 5' (aka 'Robert Fullerton and Friends'), and with Doug Kupper and crew in the Steely Dan tribute band 'Show Biz Kids', as well as performing with Teresa as a duo, with our friend Joe Nerney as a trio, and occasionally joining our dear friend, Maryland artist and songwriter Tom Wisner - we performed at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in Washington, DC as part of a special honoring of the 25th anniversary of Tom's 'Chesapeake Born' album, along with friend and wonderful acoustic guitarist Mac Walter. I've also spent these past few years learning about home recording - as a way to learn an amazing and ever-changing technology but more importantly to fuel song writing creativity and ideas. My recording, 'Things Have A Way Of Working Out' was a lot of fun to work on. I have also just finished my new CD 'Below The Radar' which features many fine artists and musicians - hope you enjoy! May 2008. Peace and blessings, Frank Schwartz.