West of the Lost River
My family came to Oregon with some of the earliest of the pioneers, traveling overland and arriving to homestead near Alpine in 1844; Jacob and Hannah Hammer were Quakers and the first of my relatives to arrive in Oregon. Jacob was a fine coffin builder who also served as justice of the peace, while Hannah kept the house and preached to the local Calapooia Indians. For the next 120 years my ancestors made their living off of the land, working as loggers, mill workers, or farmers. When I came along, the love and respect of Oregon's natural wonders was deeply ingrained and I spent many hours following the family path, hunting, fishing, and trapping wildlife; gardening, and harvesting; canning and pickling, were all part of the self-sufficiency that was so important to my parents. I'm thankful for the survival skills passed down through my family's generations. When I was sixteen my father came home one evening and told me I was going to play in a country western band. While the two of us argued about my very near future, Don Jesser and a couple of guys with black hats dragged a few amps and cords into our front room and soon after I was banging out chords and fills on our old piano. Hours later I was wearing a black hat, playing the keyboards, and making music with Don Jesser and the Black Hats at the Country Boy Inn in Bonanza. I went to bed that night with sixty-two dollars and fifty cents and an invite to return the next. That was the start of my professional music career, but my love of music began around the time I was five years old, when my grandma taught me Chopsticks, Heart and Soul, and a few other duets on our old piano. In the Catholic grade school I attended, I sang with the choir and acted in 4 plays before heading off to the upper grades, where I stayed involved in theatre and music throughout my school days and up to the present. I started strumming my mom's guitar and learning to play chords in the sixth grade and it wasn't long before I was writing songs. I've written more than my share of sappy crappy songs. Trust me when I say that I've written some of the worst songs in music history. However somewhere along the way, improving on years of bad writing, I slowly found my voice. This steady, developing voice has spoken out through the years, becoming clearer and stronger in song as I've grown through a range of experiences. You'll hear a little bit of everything I've been and everything I am in my observations. My perspective comes from my crazy and chaotic life as a kid, an altar boy, an athlete, a rancher and a farmer, a lover and a hater, a fighter, a leader and a follower, a logger, a mill worker, a commercial fisherman, a pumpkin salesman for a few Octobers, and a Christmas tree salesman for a decade of Decembers, a tent man and a technical writer, an actor, comedian, and singer, a brother, a son, an uncle, a nephew, a cousin, a friend and an enemy, a husband, and a father.