I've been meaning to "log" my musical achievements somewhere and I figured this is the best place to do that :)
It's not much, but it's what I got...
Here's my "story"
1995 -1998 (Getting Started)
In October of 1995, my lovely wife bought me my first guitar for my birthday. Little did she know that it would be come a "hobby" that would consume much of my time and even some of hers! Were she able to look in to the future, I doubt she would have bought it for me! ;) hehe It was an acoustic guitar and at the time I was listening to a lot of rock music - Candlebox, Metallica, Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, etc... So after a few months I went out and bought an electric guitar so I could start making some real noise!
I played for probably two years just in my den, playing along with the radio, trying to copy what I heard. I knew nothing of theory or chords or scales and such, just emulating what I heard on the radio.
One day, in 1997, I was supposed to be working, and found my self attending a "Liquid Lunch" instead. For those of you local to the Tampa bay area, you'll remember the 98 Rock Liquid Lunches - Live rock music and lots of beer and food :)
The band that was playing that day was called "The Bleeding Hearts" - Earl Foote (vocals), Archie Muise (guitar), Sean Colpoys (bass), and George Martin(drums) - I watched in awe as Archie tore the place up for at least an hour! That sparked in me something I'd never felt before, something I wanted to experience for myself, to be up there on that stage... Now for those of you who know me or knew me, you'd know that I'm not the "go getter" type and I'm pretty shy and introverted for the most part, but that spark was so strong I HAD to hang out and talk to Archie afterward. Of course at this point I didn't even know the guy's name, just knew he could shred like I'd never seen before. So, up I went, of course I had to wait until the mob of girls was mostly cleared out ;)
I talked to Archie, told him that I thought the band rocked and that I had just started playing guitar myself and wish I could play like that. Archie then proceeded to tell me that he gave lessons, and that was all I needed to hear! "Sign me up!" I said enthusiastically! "Sure thing man" I think was something he responded, I suspect he was trying to brush me off. hehe. He then proceeded to try and talk to a few more of the girls that were hanging out nearby. but I was determined and would not go away - I was not leaving without some contact information for my new guitar teacher! It's funny - to hear Archie tell the story goes something like this - "Yeah I was trying to hang out with some chicks after the gig and this dude would just not go away, wanted guitar lessons or something. But I remember one thing, this guy was persistent!" - and that I was!
If you want to take a break, get a cup of coffee, maybe lunch - now's a good time because the story's not over... hehe ;)
Ok, so... I started taking my lessons and that went on for - I dunno - years I guess (I'm still pretty much Archie's student!) :) but here's a cool little side story... At the time I was working for my pop at Schold Machine, and one guy that worked there (Lee Zurman) was telling me that his son, Craig, was needing some help in his I.T. department - writing software... Well that was the way I was wanting my career to go so I gave Craig a call and agreed to start working for him. Later that week I was over at Archie's for a lesson and Archie was on the phone, talking about some race car drag race and how he'd never been going that fast, etc... He hangs up the phone and asks me "So what's going on, what's new?"... "Not much, just starting some work with a guy that owns ZD integrated, doing some programming, pretty cool stuff"
"Who?" says Archie
"ZD Integrated, Craig Zurman" I answer...
"No way!" says Archie, "That was Craig on the phone I just hung up with, I've known Craig for years!"
Small world, and looking back at all we've done, I think both Archie and I realized that we were just meant to meet, one way or the other :) On top of THAT connection, there's a few more believe it or not... Sean Colpoys (bass player for Bleeding Hearts) goes on to work at ZD Integrated as well, so I would have met Archie that way... I also ended up playing in a band with Rich Cliff, who worked at ZD and also knew Archie so I would have met him that way too!
Ok so there's my first "name drop" - Archie J. Muise
Brian Welch, better known as "Head" of Korn, says this about Archie playing on his CD...
And another guy named Archie J. Muise laid some rhythm guitar tracks when I was out of the studio or was havin' a sissy fit or something. He came in played my parts for me (laughs). It was cool to have different types of musicians, ya know? In Korn, all I ever jammed with were the guys in Korn or maybe Limp Bizkit or something. These guys were different than what I was used to, ya know? It was cool to just play with some pros, ya know?
Okay - enough about Archie... C'mon man get your own page.. ;p hehe
1998 - 2004 (Blue Joules and switching to bass)
So to continue my story... As I said before I go on to play in a band with Rich Cliff. At first it's just a few guys jamming together, Rich on the drums, me playing guitar, and Craig, singing... we go on like that for a year or so, doing some cover tunes writing a few new tunes, jamming with a few people here and there... But we never really pulled it together tight until one day Rich brings in a few of his friends from school, one guy sings (Rob) and one guy plays guitar (Joe) - Well Joe sets up and it's clear right away who the better guitar player is ;) Joe can play pretty good!
Well, we never really had a steady bass player, so I figured for a while I would play the bass so we could have a full band for a while at least. For 8 years, I never looked back to the guitar! While I thought, at first, bass would be easy (and boring) I was wrong on both accounts! To truly play the bass as a bass player, it takes a lot of work. It really is a completely different instrument and can add a lot to the band and overall music - a lot more than people think.
So we started to tighten things up, write a few tunes, and we played our first gig ever at Rich's birthday party April 1st (no joke!). Entitled "Rich Fest 2001" we "opened up" for Damn the Torpedoes (Greg Billings of Stranger), The Bleeding Hearts, Universal Baby (Jeremy Thomas, Sean Colpoys), and I think Tommy Ray Moody even played the party (Yes I'm again dropping names of the people I've played with and know) ;)
A buddy of ours, Chris Billich, came up with the name of the band for us... He had a girl that he was chatting to online, her handle was "Blue Jules" (Her name was Julie) - we played around with the idea and came up with Blue Joules (Joules as in "electricity")
Blue Joules went on to play for many years together - along the way we lost Joe, picked up Don Burns and Wade Penrod, and then lost Wade, but for the most part, Blue Joules was Rob Clark (vocals), Rich Cliff (drums), Don Burns (guitar), and me (bass). We produced two studio albums, 'Yearbook' and 'Down to This'. We played many many shows, some with some pretty big name bands like Gin Blossoms, Firehouse, Remy Zero , Big Sky and more when I can remember them! We played some pretty cool shows and festivals at places like the Hard Rock in Orlando, Janus Landing here in St. Pete, and also more when I can remember them! (sucks getting old!). We also won a few "Battle of the Bands" contests.
One other highlight to note, in 2002 (the year the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went to the Superbowl) we recorded a parody song "Going To The Superbowl" to the J. Geils tune "Centerfold" - the cool thing is that we recorded the song BEFORE the season even started! When the Bucs were actually on their way to the Superbowl, our parody was being played all over the Tampa Bay radio stations, and even at the stadium when the Bucs returned that night! Pretty cool :)
And so my story continues.....
In my never ending quest to better my playing, I stopped by the Players School of Music here in Clearwater. Since I was a "self taught" bass player, I thought some actual lessons would be good for me. I didn't really know what they were all about, just always saw the sign for the place and thought I'd stop in. I talked to someone, I thought was the receptionist, about lessons. "Jeff doesn't give private lessons anymore, you can attend the school though and come to the group classes" she was telling me... and I thought to myself, "Jeff? Who's this Jeff guy..." - While I was talking to her she asked what i did for a living. "I write software" I told her... "Oh! We really need someone to write us some software! Let me let you talk to Jeff and see if we can work something out". She led me to the back, to an office, "wait here, I'll go get him" she told me... While I was waiting I checked out the many pictures he had on the wall... Some pictures of Allan Holdsworth, the Band Yes, Frank Zappa, Bill Bruford, Billy Cobham, Issac Hayes, George Benson, K.D. Lang, Jermaine Jackson, and Larry Coryell, and my all time hero - Geddy Lee. What I didn't realize at the time was... that was this "Jeff" character was IN the pictures with all of these people! If you haven't guess already - the "Jeff" I'm talking about is Jeff Berlin. (name drop alert)
So in walks Jeff, again I'm still not really grasping the concept of who I'm really talking to, seems like a regular guy - so I'm talking to him like a regular guy hehe - I bet that threw him for a little loop, I bet most people are in awe just to be in the same room with such an iconic player. but I didn't know any better ;) But to be honest, Jeff is really a down to earth and great guy, even though he could justify a monster ego, he doesn't have one :) So Jeff and I strike up a deal - I will write him some software in exchange for some private lessons (yes - I said private lessons - with Jeff Berlin!) I still had no idea of the magnitude of my luck!
It wasn't until the next time I talked with Archie... "What the?!?!!! WHO!?!?!" I think was his exclamation. "Yeah, this dude Jeff Berlin" I said casually - Archie then proceeded to lay it out for me who Jeff was and IS in the music community. If you search for Jeff Berlin on Youtube, you'll see him jamming with Billy Sheehan, Victor Wooten, and even Jaco Pastorius, as well as some other really TOP players (and you can hear his amazing playing as well - and buy his CDs) he is also personal friends with my all time favorite - Geddy Lee (RUSH). I think when I first saw a few emails roll in to Jeff's inbox from Geddy that it actually hit me that I was in over my head! :)
2004 - 2008 (Limbo and Friends)
Well that's the bulk of my story, I went on, after Blue Joules broke up, to try and start or play in a few bands, one band was called Polk and we had one gig worth mentioning... We opened up for Switchfoot for a crowd of about 10,000 people at Cyprus Gardens. That will probably go down in the record books for me as the biggest show I've ever played :)
Along the way I've met and become friends with many people! So I thought I'd mention a few that stand out here...
When we first started playing around in the jam room, we went to Seminole Music to buy all of our gear. At the time, the manager there was Matt Buckner (Big Brother, Sunburn) I can safely say that I have bought 90% of my musical gear from Matt and him and I became and are still friends to this day! (He even came out to a show last month and jammed with the band!) :) Of course Matt has moved on to bigger and better things and now sells gear all over the world (literally), so I can't buy my gear directly from him anymore :( (hence the 10% I didn't buy from him hehe) "officlially" anyway ;)
Another couple of friends I'd like to mention are Bruno Baermann and Mike Landes... I grew up with these two guys and if it wasn't for them I might have quit playing altogether. In the time after Blue Joules I tried to join and form several bands, none panned out and I was about to give up, stopped playing for months even... Then one day I called up Bruno and Mike and "ordered" them to go out and buy some drums and a bass and come hell or high water we were going to form a band! Code 8 we called ourselves :) we played together for probably a year before we met Rich Adams and he joined the band as the singer (which we'd never had). Unfortunately Mike moved away and we struggled along without bass for a while until we met Reggie, who was a really good player and we almost got to the point where we could play out, then Reggie moved away too! and finally Bruno moved away... That left Rich and I, which leads us to the next (and current) situation - Big Moon Rocket!
2008 - Now (Big Moon Rocket)
I thought I'd check out Craig's List for anyone needing a guitar or bass player, I'd seen many ads and for some reason decided to follow up on this one, looking for a bass player... I went out to jam with the guys, Tony Motanez (vocals), Steve (guitar), and Scott Davis(Drums). and we got along and sounded pretty good :) they informed me that they had a gig scheduled in a few weeks (even better) so I joined the band right there, I figured to at least get them through the gig... So here's where it gets interesting... about two weeks before the gig Tony calls me up and says that Steve is quitting and we might have to cancel the gig! Since I'd been playing the guitar with Code 8, I figured I might be able to pull off playing the guitar for the gig - so we then recruited Rich Adams (Code 8) on the bass - I really wanted to get Rich because even though he didn't play the bass, I knew he had the passion to learn it and his vocal ability would be invaluable in the future - two great singers in a band? sounds like a good deal to me! ;)
Well Big Moon Rocket played like that for a few years, local clubs and such. We recorded our first 6 song EP "Countdown" in Tony's garage and got it played on several Internet Radio stations (VRadio). After a few years went by I was attending a funeral for our great friend Chris Billich (See him from above, the source for the Blue Joules name) and was talking to Don Burns, the guitar player for Blue Joules. Well Don wasn't really doing much and so I invited him to come jam with the band. We added Don to the band after the first Jam :) our styles on guitar are so different that it was a great match!
Big Moon Rocket conituned for a good year with a 5 man line up and we recorded our second 6 song EP "Bikini Girl", again in Tony's garage.
Story doesn't end there though! There's one more turn of events... Scott, the drummer, decides that we're all not going in the same direction and decides to part ways with the band. Rich, the bass player, played the drums growing up and would rather be a drummer than a bass player (remember we "forced" him to be the bass player) :) - so Rich is taking the drums and I am back on bass! (where I belong) :) After a few jams with this new line up we realize that THIS band is going to ROCK, without a doubt!
Well, and wouldn't you know it, but things change again LOL Rich decides that things at home are more important (and they are) and so parts ways with the band - we go through trying out a few drummers until finally getting Wade Penrod (remember Wade from playing with Blue Joules (above) for a while and he's actually Don's cousin) - Wade is a solid drummer and a great guy and we are estatic to have him in the band!
So! Big Moon Rocket (for those of you keeping score) is: Tony Montanez on Vocals and rythym guitar, Don Burns on Lead Guitar, Jamie Cunningham (that's me!) on bass, and Wade Penrod on drums
So please check out Big Moon Rocket - we do a mix of original music and cover tunes and play out around St. Pete, FL. Come check us out! :)
I am a proud player of Warwick basses - best bass on the planet!