Jeffrey says he can’t recall a time when he was pre-musical. By the age of nine, he had aced a musical aptitude test and was learning to play clarinet in the school band. As a high school student, he added flute, guitar and harmonica to his musical resume. One of his biggest goals at that time was to play music at parties and meet girls. He was also determined to emulate his idol, Brian Jones, of the Rolling Stones.
It seems Jeffrey was born to be musical. As a child, he spent time playing the piano and vividly remembers a toy concertina at his Aunt Opal’s house. He says that he must have inherited a musical gene from his family. With a maternal great-grandfather who was a good fiddle player and led a band called Charlie’s Blue Blazers at square dances in northwest Ohio during the ‘20’, a grandmother who played piano, the gene pool was amply stocked. His father’s side of the family also contributed. His dad won a talent contest as a boy by singing a rendition of “It Was Only a Shanty in Old Shantytown”. Jeff says his mother sang to him and told him nursery rhymes constantly when he was a baby. She blames herself for making him a musician.
When Jeff was 21, he got a baritone sax. He came home from working a 90-lb. jackhammer at a construction site and tried to wrap what was left of his hands around it. Eventually (4 months later) he had learned it reasonably well: He quit construction and got his first sax gig with Jimmy Vaughn and the Storm.
Jeff claims that his early experiences with blues music got him so interested in the cultural ramifications of music (ethnomusicology), that the Anthropology Department almost seduced me away from the Music Department when he went to the University of Texas. That interest is what eventually brought Jeff to Brave Combo. Former bass player for Brave Combo, Lyle Atkinson, presided over Jeffrey’s audition for the band. He checked Jeffrey’s record and found it appropriately weird, then made him learn and record a new song from Music for Squares every ten minutes.
Even after all the years and road-trips Jeff has made with Brave Combo, he still claims his first scheduled gig with the band is the weirdest. “On the way to my first Brave Combo gig, a car spun over the median and we crashed headlong into him. My premier was postponed for a month while we recuperated from our injuries. Somebody up there thought I wasn’t ready, I guess.” Hard to believe, considering the guy can play more than one saxophone at once!
When Jeffrey is not recording and traveling with Brave Combo he says he is waiting to be adopted by a cat, collecting and learning to play new musical instruments (surprise!) and writing poetry.
Jeffrey’s choice for a perfect place for a Brave Combo performance is In Outer Space. He says, “I long to see a roomful of dancers experience weightlessness.”