I am currently living in Atlanta with my ravishing wife, Claire, and writing a dissertation exploring Sun Records as a model for humanities learning in the university classroom. In my spare time I play with a pop/rock band called the Miltons and I collect music.
I was born to a non-musical family in Montreal in 1965, but lived in Minneapolis with them from 1967 until 1992. At the age of five, I learned how to operate my father's record player; I listened every day to his collection, and my favorite records were Mozart's 40th Symphony and Missa Lubba, a recording of African chants.
The next year my mother started me on piano lessons but I refused to practice. She asked me what instrument I would rather play and I said "oboe" (I was hooked on Vivaldi oboe concertos at the time), but my mother thought the better of it and got me a violin. I loved violin music but was always frustrated with my inability to sound like the musicians on the records. It took a long time for me to give up hope of becoming a concert violinist, but I finally did by quitting violin altogether at the age of 16.
That year, a friend gave me the Sex Pistols' record and I thought it was garbage heavy metal with a screechy singer so I returned it. Two days later I asked him to give it back to me. I got very into punk (the year was 1981) and befriended Minneapolis musicians -- members of the Replacements, Hüsker Dü, Loud Fast Rules (aka Soul Asylum), and later the Cows, Babes in Toyland, the Jayhawks, Boiled in Lead, and many others. I published Jailbreak!, an underground high-school newspaper with an anarchist political bent and a punk aesthetic. Later, I helped organize an anti-draft registration group, an anarchist bookstore, and a political action group called RABL (The Revolutionary Anarchist Bowling League). I enlisted the help of the musicians I knew in Minneapolis, as well as some out-of-town ones, to play benefits in support of our various projects.
In 1992 I moved to Gainesville, FL, to begin my graduate studies in English. There I began playing violin again with a group of female folk/country musicians. In that band, which became known as Look Here Sister, I also played guitar and sang lead and harmony vocals. Soon I was writing songs and became co-leader of the band along with Michelle Gould. Some demo recordings of the band were made but none released. I taught at the University of Florida's English department for five years and designed a variety of writing classes including Writing About Literature, Argumentative Writing, Film Analysis, Writing Through Media, and Writing About Pop Music: From Armstrong to Elvis. I developed this last class with the help of Robert Ray, a film professor at the university and leader of the group the Vulgar Boatmen.
In 1997 I moved to Atlanta to live with my then fiancée. My old Gainesville band decided to continue with Michelle as the leader under the name the Rails. I formed the Miltons in Atlanta.
Desert Island Picks
Glenn Gould: Bach Goldberg Variations (1980 recording)
Amadeus Quartet: Beethoven Quartets
The Replacements: Stink