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People are full of amazing paradoxes; it is never obvious why some people grab hold to the real things around them and other people dive deep into what their imagination suggests as an alternative. There is no simple equation of pleasure or pain to explain it.
Brian was born and raised in Ohio, spending most of his childhood in a small town called Columbiana full of families who survived by factory work and construction labor on the northern fringe of the Ohio Valley. He received a religious upbringing--church every Sunday--and, since his father was a football coach, he also received a heavy helping of Friday Night Lights each fall. Factory work, farming, faith and football... that was the life that was proposed for him.
But Brian also liked records and maps and National Geographic and stories about ancient times and writing notes on staff paper and memorizing lists of cities and countries and track lists from all the Beatles’ albums. “When I listened to music as a kid, it made me feel like I could be someone different than what everyone expected. Like, music could help me investigate other people already living inside me. It wasn’t just a simple escape; it was pretty core to my struggle to define an identity when I was young.”
He had a very ambitious music teacher who composed her own musicals for kids and audaciously taught public school third-graders how to read and write music. And he had an aunt who gave him her stereo and collection of LPs and 45s from the 60’s and 70‘s. And he had a mom who snagged a piano from the garbage heap one day in 1982. And honestly, there’s something about those old hymns he heard every week at church. Slowly the admiration for raw beauty settled in Brian’s soul and, as a child, it was hard to see beauty in the blunt, plain-facts environment of small town Ohio. Men, particularly, offered what seemed like warnings rather than examples: angry Vietnam veterans, end-times-obsessed born-again baptizers, part-it-on-the-right buttoned-down dads who'd over-manage their sons and then lose their jobs in their fifties when industry in the Ohio valley gave up its last gasp.
And so paradoxes begin. Kids contrive after their dreams. And life happens, relentlessly. “There are no do-overs, but there sure have been a lot of start-overs.” Lots of town-leaving, being the new kid, getting stuck, getting unstuck, children-raising, a marriage, a mortgage, a divorce, aftermaths, breaches, deep breaths, deep dives....
It has taken Brian well into his fifth decade to find his footing as a creator. In 2018, he began a new project focused on solo performances delivering story-songs that reflect on life and the emotional anguish that goes with it. “I don’t think I’ve ever gotten over the weird guilt stemming from everything I did to avoid becoming the person I was expected to be. I have lost a lot of relationships over it. A lot of chances to have a home that I’ll never get back again. And I think it’s that underlying anguish that has led me to want to understand pain in other people and their stories and to really reflect hard on how it all comes about--all the traps that are laid for us. It’s so human to be struggling your whole life to get out of snares; most of them aren’t even real.”
The songs are, in a word, gorgeous. First of all, there is his voice: he pairs Broadway-caliber, blue-eyed soul vocal agility with folk simplicity in delivery. Being able to access powerful dynamism and range but still deliver very heartfelt and sincere lyrical performances is what sets him apart both as a performer and a writer. Then, there are the melodies: expertly crafted, soaring, cresting and softly returning to earth. The hymnody of his youth and his attention to the best pop writing of the middle decades of the last century are always close at hand.
We are still waiting for Brian’s first professionally recorded album. But his first single, "O Dear Me" is ready! Click here to have it as a free gift. Joining the musical community under that link is the best way to keep in touch! Or message Brian directly on Facebook or Instagram. Social links on this site navigate to his profile pages.