A young and prodigious talent made time to talk to Bruuuce.com. Look out for this guy…
Last time you were on Bruuce.com you were in a band, right?
I was. I founded Redshift 6 in 1999 with some college mates, and we toured until this past May. We had our moments, like opening for Guster and Original Parliament, and playing the Boston scene provided me with a nice glimpse of the rock star life. Great experience. but I’m focusing on the solo project for now.
And a student also – how are you juggling both ventures?
I was at Tufts University during the Redshift 6 era, and we definitely got a lot of support from the university. Now, I’m in Chicago studying law at Northwestern. I find that juggling a music career and the first year of law school is about as difficult as juggling flaming torches. Thank God for the portable home studio… Gigging is on hold for the next few months, though.
Just how much practice do you manage to cram in on your piano?
Never enough. One of the things that I admire most about Bruce is the fact that even now, he’s constantly improving his skills through practice. A few years ago I endeavored to begin developing the right/left hand independence that makes Bruce so extraordinary. I’ve put in hundreds of hours of practice time on that, and I’m sure I’ve got thousands more to go.
Bruce is credited as an influence on your CD – which of his music caught your ear? When was this?
I was seven years old when The Way It Is came out. To this day, I vividly remember hearing Bruce on the radio for the first time – I was in the backseat of my parents’ car, traveling east on the Massachusetts Turnpike. I had just started noodling around on the keys then, but once I heard Bruce, I knew piano was my instrument. I started practicing scales as soon as I got home.
Please tell us about your CD – where and when you wrote it, how people can get it…?
I recorded this CD entirely within the confines of my bedroom, also known as Durham Drive Studios. I wrote the music over a span of about nine months. I would have preferred a longer gestation period, but law school and my move to Chicago loomed large.
The mastering was done at InTone Media in Danvers, MA, with the help of the great Dan Tarlow.
The disc – it’s called “Daylight Savings” – is available online at CD Baby.
Have you covered (or been tempted to cover) any of Bruce’s songs at a show?
Yes, I have covered Bruce at a number of shows. I should say “interpreted” rather than covered, because there’s no way I could do justice to a Bruce song if I didn’t adapt it to my own style and approach. I especially like playing The Way It Is, Pastures of Plenty, Sunlight Moon, and Swan Song.
Do you get a chance to catch much live Hornsby?
I go to every Hornsby show I can. I’ve been to about a dozen thus far. If only he would tour more often. (sigh) But I certainly respect Bruce’s commitment to spending time with his family.
You ever met Bruce?
I had the privilege of meeting Bruce in the summer of ’02, when Elyce Turner and a certain Si Twining helped get me backstage at the Cohasset show. Needless to say, I was extraordinarily excited. I also enjoyed talking to JT Thomas – I’ve looked up to him as well, and for what it’s worth, I was going for a Johnnie T kind of sound with the organ track on “New Solitude,” from my disc.
I gather Bruce was kind about a demo disc you sent him, though?
Yes. I sent him a CD with a few of my older piano compositions last year. I’m sure a lot of people of Bruce’s stature wouldn’t take the time to listen, but he wrote back – in birthday card form – and told me that he really enjoyed the music. That meant a lot to me. Bruce is the man.
Which of Bruce’s songs would you list as your favourites?
It’s hard to pick favourites with respect to Bruce’s music because his songs are constantly evolving. That said, I’d list Hot House Ball, Harbor Lights, The Tide Will Rise, Special Night, Resting Place, Swan Song. wow, I really could go on for a while here. I’m also quite fond of his forays into Tempus Fugit.
And aside from Bruce, who would your musical influences be?
Bruce is certainly my main influence. I’ve also listened to a lot of Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau, Marc Cohn and Steely Dan. Lately I’ve been into D.D. Jackson – I highly recommend his album “Sigame.” As far as non-pianists, I’d credit Sting, Bela Fleck and Pat Metheny as influences.
So what’s in your immediate future, Dan?
Law school. I’ll be writing all the while, and I’m hoping to record some new tracks before next summer. I also plan to add vocals to the mix on my next album. Meanwhile, I’ll be frequenting the many Chicago jazz clubs for inspiration.
Thanks to Dan for the chat – be sure to check out his record.