Typical of many professional musicians, he also has a side job: working in the shipping & receiving department of a local state university. But according to George, he is busier musically than he’s ever been. Along with local stage and studio work, he also performs 3 times a week in Second Life. He also has rubbed elbows with the some of the greatest stars in the music industry, either while touring or while recording in professional studios (especially in San Francisco). Through it all, he’s never lost his sense of humor, his enthusiasm for music, or his artistic vision.
My favorite daddyg tracks:
- Wrong Remedies
- Disarm Yourself by the Puddle Jumpers
- Oasis by the Puddle Jumpers
- Max and I by the Puddle Jumpers
- My Old Friend Jack by the Puddle Jumpers
- I Ain’t No Jukebox with K. J. Corell
- Cuppa with Deidre Kroener
- Tug of War with Vera Wildauer
- Midnight with Dayna Wills, K. J. Cortell
So, I gotta ask… Do you get confused with George Michael (of Wham!)?
“All the time. I’m told I resemble him greatly… When Wham hit the charts my family was at first ecstatic and then alternately confused and disappointed.
“I was invited to a professional songwriters symposium back in ‘87 and when I signed up for a class I forgot to put the (USA) after my name and the class filled quickly. When we went around the room to introduce ourselves, the groan was audible when I stood and said “I’m the real George Michael.” *sigh*
What is your Second Life avatar name?
“My avatar name is Lyndon Heart.”
Did you pick something other than George Michael in order to avoid annoying discussions (like this one)?
“Let’s face it, I’ve taken enough abuse in the real world, I didn’t want to start it with Second Life right off the bat.”
Have you had any showdowns with Second Life ‘griefers’ - even without the Wham! connection?
“Most SL participants are friendly and helpful, but there are ‘griefers’ whose aim is purely to cause trouble. A few showed up at a recent online concert I gave, peppering the graphic scene with pornographic images and ‘bumping’ my avatar off the stage. Three of my shows were ‘griefed’ in a row, but we got the names, and those participants were quickly banned.”
How do you handle the SL groupies?
“There is a sexual element to Second Life. That’s probably one of the driving forces behind the world. I don’t participate, but all the avatars are, ahem, anatomically correct, and the imagery is phenomenally real-looking.
“Second Life also gives people with physical disabilities a new way of interacting. Obstacles vanish in the freedom of an online world. One of my in-world fans is a 23-year-old paraplegic woman who is making money designing and building things for others in the world. Another female friend has an immune deficiency that prevents her from going outside. Her only connection to the world is her three computers. Both lead active and mobile lives in the alter-reality of Second Life.”
Is the whole SL thing kind of addictive?
“Highly. The first night I visited online, I realized only later that I’d sat and stared at my computer for six hours straight. I know people who’ve had trouble balancing Second Life with their first one, sometimes with sad results. But I’ve settled into a fairly normal schedule that is driven by my performances, for which I receives pay or tips, or both.”
How much money does that generate?
“Well, for me it’s not about the money really. It’s about getting your tunes in the ears of as many folks as possible. I’ll just say that I can go to a few extra concerts a year and I’m helping sell my bands CDs. I usually end up with enough to go to the SLCC (Second Life Community Convention) each year. I’ll take my family out to dinner and say, ‘This one’s on SL!’
“I wasn’t in it for the money at the beginning. The first three months I was just playing whenever I could, staying up late at night, driving my wife crazy, telling my friends in real life to get on this. My wife grew more supportive the first time I cashed a check received for performing online. I said, ‘You know how I made that money, honey? I made it playing music in my pajamas in the back room!’
“But for me - and for LyndonHeart - the magic is in the music. I have heard the most phenomenal musicians you can even imagine.”
You still wear pajamas? The last time I tried to buy some, the store didn’t even carry them anymore…
“PJ’s are back! The kids wear them everywhere.”
Speaking of PJs, your first tracks shared on Macjams were from a group called The Puddle Jumpers. The quality of the writing (great lyrics, strong music) made me an instant fan. Tell me about that band.
“An excellent group of fine musicians who got together because we were excited about our sound. We released 3 very good CDs in 5 years and met a lot of people in the business doing it.
“Same story. Too little attention soon enough for some members. They had to move on and replacing them was just not… the same.”
How many real-life bands have you been in?
“I’ve been in over 25 bands in my career. I could write a book about the people I’ve met and the things I’ve done. (In fact, I’ll start tomorrow!) I’ve shared stages with Spirit, The Flock, The Buchinghams, The Ides of March, The Association, Loudin Wainright III, The Average White Band, Shania Twain, Dan Seals, Hal Ketchum and Bo Diddley twice once in the late ’60s in Grant Park and again in Washington state the summer of ‘07. There have been literally hundreds of other fine bands and musicians that I’ve done shows with around the country.”
Any people you’ve worked with we might recognize?
“Roy Halee produced and engineered one of my early band’s recording project in San Fransisco, CA. People who stopped by during that time were Elvin Bishop, Steve Miller, Skunk Baxter, Christopher Cross and Joni Mitchell. Although they were there to talk to Roy, I met and talked to each of them and they were all very encouraging.
“I was in a band with Max Gronenthal (38 Special / Jack Mack & the Heart Attack). We had a blast. I helped arrange vocal phrasings and harmonies in the project we were forming in Boulder CO with Tim Goodman and producer Marty Cohn.”
Tell me more about rubbing elbows with these folks…
“Interaction during my recording session was light pleasantries and hands shakes. Like I said, they mostly came in to talk to Roy at CBS about somethings related to their own recordings. I remember seeing Skunk Baxter nodding his head in rhythm to our playback. Joni was sitting quietly in the corner waiting for Roy to finish listening to a lead pass we’d just laid down. I mentioned how much I enjoyed her songwriting and she said something about how word crafting is a lot like painting. We spoke in hushed tones so as not to distract the producers ears. I had to go back in and record another pass and when I came out Joni had left the building.
“I ran into Joni two more times years later in LA, once at a restaurant in Santa Monica and at the Troubador. I could see both times that she didn’t remember me.
“My band was set up in the SIR studios across the street from CBS for 3-4 days while we prepped for that session. That was a place that was filled with people. Santana was getting ready to tour and rehearsing their show. Tower of Power, Elvin Bishop, Dave Mason… just lots and lots of musicians of the day were in the building with us.”
Did hanging out near the musical stars of the day lead to more work, any career breaks?
“Well, The Doobie Bros, during their 1976-77 tour, used my song ‘The Other Man‘ as part of the music in the front of their shows while people were seating. We got to open for The Dillards in Boulder CO after they came to our show in San Francisco.
“I’m still in touch with almost every band mate I’ve ever had as well as every woman I’ve ever had a serious relationship with. There’s an intimacy like none other that you share playing music with
other creative people. It creates a bond …”
Do you tour anymore?
“Not if I can help it. Very hard on the body. Did it when I was young throughout the Midwest. Did one Hawaiian and one Alaskan tour.”
What is the origin of your screen name, “daddyg”?
“I joined a band who’s every member had a nickname. I gave myself the nick Daddy G after the sax player in the Church St 5 made famous by Gary US Bonds in his song Quarter To Three. It never took. ”
How old were you when you got into playing music?
Any early influences?
“OK… (deep breath)…
“Christmas time, ‘65. My aunt (mom’s sis) finds out I have a band. She calls me and asks if I’d like to make some money playing at a private holiday party. Well, as you can imagine, I was thrilled and said yes. She gave me the address and promised me $100 minimum. Tells me to show around 6pm as I recall. (A little background on my Aunt Sis. Vivacious, red-haired Irish woman. Nurse at Little Company of Mary Hosp. where I was born. Wonderful sense of humor, always having fun. When she died, she was starring in a community production of ‘Mame,’ a role she was born to play.) It was a clear, cold winters evening. Snow everywhere. I go up to the door of this mansion and ring…
“A slightly inebriated elderly gentleman answers with a not so subtle look of ‘What the…?’
“I’m panicking, thinking ‘Oh oh! Wrong place? Wrong night?’ I tell him I was hired to play for the Christmas party by my Aunt Sis at this address. Suddenly my aunt appears and takes over. She whispers something to the man and the guy started laughing so hard I thought he was gonna have a coronary right there in front of me. Aunt Sis hugs me and calls for some of the folks to come and help us bring in the stuff.
“We load in (with the help of about nine or ten people) and it’s bedlam. People are laughing and frantically moving furniture and clearing a place for us to set up. Turns out my aunt planned this to be a surprise on the host and guests and everyone is thoroughly enjoying the gag.
“The band sets up amidst a swirl of well toasted doctors and nurses. We open with ‘Long Tall Sally’ and I swear we felt the house move with the shear force of the merriment in the room. Well heeled people, dressed to the nines, danced with drinks in hand and smiles on their faces. We played for about a half hour and would’ve played all freaking night if it were up to us, but my Aunt Sis promised my mom to have us packed and on the road home before too late.
“While we tore down and loaded out, women are hugging and kissing us and men are pressing ten and twenties into our hands and shirt pockets. I know I went home with about $200 and another indelible mark on my psyche. I want to make a living doing that to people.”
Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?
“When I was 15 I wrote a song called ‘It’s You’ for a battle of the bands competition that was my 1st band’s 2nd gig. It was a four chord shuffle rocker with mindless lyrics. I can still play the chords and hum the melody.”
I absolutely love the song Max & I. It reminds me of a Dave Eggers novel. What is the story behind it?
“Max was a friend of my son’s. They traveled through grade school together and that’s how I met his mom. She and I ended up writing about 10-15 songs together. ‘Max and I’ was a chronicle of their trip to a cottage
they owned in Oregon. It was an early, if not the first effort.”
I’m glad your sons brought you together. When did you write it?
“We wrote it together in 1996.”
Is there something the MJ community might not know about you?
“I’m a good cook and I spin a mighty good yo-yo!”
What are your current musical aspirations?
“Same as any artist out there, I think. I want to share my work with as many people as possible while I live. Don’t we create to share?
“I am having wonderful success with lyrical collaboration presently.”
What obstacles have you overcome in your musical career?
“My biggest obstacle was a petrifying shyness, not an emotion conducive to this business. I learned to perform and engage an audience… as well as learning to dance.
Tell me more about the dancing…
“Not that unusual to find out that I have rhythm and using my body movements to punctuate the songs. I found my body rhythm.”
What is your normal recording process?
“When doing a studio project, well practiced bed tracks get done first. Drums, bass and a scratch vocal and/or rhythm instrument. Then I add other instruments according to availability of players.
“At home I just record the new song with a click and build from there. I record everything dry with good levels. I mix using other people’s ears as well as my own. I master at one of the many mastering studios in town or I shop mixed tracks out to online mastering.”
What is your main instrument?
“Guitars of all ilk. Mandolin. Some keys.”
What gear do you use?
“There are about as many recording studios in Seattle as coffee shops. I use them and their gear whenever possible. At home, I use GarageBand.”
What you do think is your strongest point, musically?
“When covering an artist, I’ve been told I have a gift for interpretation, probably stemming from years of night clubbing and weariness of doing the same songs over and over. My singing and guitar playing abilities are neck and neck. I’m an excellent rhythm player and still have a good vocal range.”
Your weakest point (and how do you get around it)?
“As a soloist I’m not a ’stand at the front of the stage and shred’ kinda guy. Where a flurry of notes might be impressive, I do something melodic and emotional.”
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing…
“I’m missing a section of vocal range where my full voice switches to falsetto so, I can yodel pretty well if the notes are a good interval away from each other.”
Yodeling is an entertaining way around vocal limitations, especially in certain genres…
“If I have to sing in the weak area, I can transpose to a different octave fairly quickly or, talk it, too.”
How do you come up with a song?
“First rule. There are no rules. Songs have come unbidden from hearing a trash can lid drop, two truck horns blowing in sequence, the absolute stillness of a summer evening, the sound of the water running or a baby crying. A lyric may arrive from a book title or a riff might come to you in the rhythm of your walk. Late night chord noodlings or listening to children talk, inspiration is all around you at every moment.”
I noticed that you collaborate frequently with others in the writing process. What sort of collaborations are up next for you?
“I write with some people who create exclusively with me and I’m not ready to share them yet
“(Sorry about the short responses, but I’m doing this between work, recording, students, family, band rehearsals and performances so I’m poking away at it…)”
“Everyone does things in their own way. I’ve found that starting very simply and building slowly and thoughtfully is my formula for making a good song and recording.”
How has your Macjams experience been?
“It has been a joy from day one!”
What Macjams song you are most proud of?
“The latest one!”
How has the Internet changed your music goals, your way of creating music, your time management?
“By making it possible to sell songs and network your bands all over the planet yourself, the Internet has spurred me on to write more, and in turn, buy more music.”