Sunday, June 15, 2003

Music to a father's ears

Musician kids play tribute to their musician dads and gifts they received

By Larry Nager
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Like father like son, and daughter.

Music, like baldness, blue eyes and a fondness for garlic, often runs in the family. Maybe it's genetic; maybe it's just growing up around guitars, drums and pianos. Whatever the reasons, Greater Cincinnati has its share of multi-generational musical families.

Today, as we honor fathers everywhere, let's hear it for the musician dads of musician kids. They've passed on to the next generation a big piece of their souls.

In return, here are Father's Day tributes from a few of those kids.

G. and Danny Burton

G. Burton leads the country-rock band Hyde Park Outrage and is a former member of Solstice. His dad is local country performer Danny Burton, one of the hottest acts on the post-Urban Cowboy scene.

"He's a pro. He doesn't settle for anything less than perfect, he doesn't drink or smoke on stage and he always dresses up for the show.

"Even though we come from different generations of music, I'm lucky to have so much in common with my father. We talk about gear, or the gigs we had the night before. He gives good tax advice as well."

Rosie, Ann and Steve Carson

[IMAGE] Rosie Carson (center), sister Ann and dad Steve.
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Rosie Carson, 11, is an award-winning fiddler whose group from Cincinnati's Riley School of Irish Music took first place in the under-12 Ceili band competition at the Midwest Fleadh 2003 in March.

Her sister, Ann, 12, plays pennywhistle.

Their dad, Steve Carson, is the former bass player for the Customs, Cincinnati's seminal punk/new wave band of the late '70s. Now Steve is the area's leading promoter of Celtic folk and rock concerts.

"I grew up around music," says Rosie. "I'm not sure which was the first concert I was at, 'cause I was just a little baby. I've been playing about three years - fiddle and then classical this last year. (She and her sister attend the School for Creative and Performing Arts).

Their dad encourages them to practice and do better, but at this point, his primary influence is as a promoter.

"He brings a lot of bands to town and I like to watch the fiddlers and I like to listen to people sing," says Rosie. "If he hadn't brought the shows, then I probably wouldn't have been interested in playing."

June 20, she'll open for Elberon and Fairport Convention at Oakley's 20th Century.

Ouiwey, Bootsy Collins

[IMAGE] Ouiwey (left) and Bootsy Collins.
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Ouiwey (pronounced ooo-WHEE) is the professional name of William Collins Jr., 28, producer/rapper/singer and son of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bootsy Collins. He was raised by his mom, Patricia Johnson, but he saw Bootsy on weekends and summers, whenever he wasn't touring. At 20, he moved in with his dad.

When he was 8, Ouiwey got his first drum machine from his father. It was a piece of equipment that had been used in Bootsy's recording studio and had no instruction manual. Ouiwey gives him credit for that. "He would give me studio equipment and he wouldn't give me a book ... so I would have to just learn it. Now I can learn any piece of equipment without any instructions. That's basically what I've had to do all my life. I had to figure it out. But I learned a lot from him, as far as engineering and the way music should sound."

He pays tribute to his dad on his debut album, Son of the Funk, and Ouiwey says the most important thing his father taught him was both musical and spiritual.

"Keep it on the One (meaning both God and the downbeat) and everything else will fall into place."

Dan, Josh and Carl Edmondson

Singer/guitarist Carl Edmondson had national hits in the '60s on Cincinnati's Fraternity label and produced some of Lonnie Mack's classic blues-rock sides. Two of his sons - Dan, 26, and Josh, 25 - are, respectively, drummer and guitarist for the band Oval Opus. Formed in 1997, Oval Opus has three albums out and tours nationally.

"Growing up, we were always around music," says Dan. "I remember 4 years old or younger, going to see my dad play. And at the same time, he was working at recording studios producing. I was always around it, music was always something we were gonna do. When I was around 7, my dad got me a real drum set and the rest is history."

At the same time, says Dan, younger brother Josh got his first guitar. "First song my dad ever taught us was 'Money,' by the Beatles, just Dad and me and Josh in our music room, just busting that song out."

Carl helped the boys produce their first album, 1998's Wagon Wheel.

"He was definitely a driving force in getting us started. I think I learned a lot about songwriting from my dad and a lot about the business and record production."

Now that the younger Edmondsons know the ropes, the biggest lesson from Carl is longevity. He still occasionally performs.

"It's always fun to still go see him rock out. He shows you you can still do it, He's 64 and he's still got it going. Even now, he's got one of the best lead singing voices."

'Spud' and Taylor Farley

Singer/guitarist Taylor "Spud" Farley III, 17, is the son of banjo player Taylor Farley II and a member of his dad's bluegrass/rock band Blue Rock.

"My dad's the only reason I am playing music. It's like destiny. From the day I was born, I was delivered by a banjo player. I would never have done anything with music if it wasn't for him."

The most important practical lessons he got from his father, says Spud, "Was basically just the stage presence, how to entertain an audience. And the whole live thing, when something goes wrong, how to fix it real quick."

Noah and Jim Hunt

Singer/guitarist Noah Hunt has toured internationally with the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band since 1997. Before that, he fronted Uncle Six, one of the hottest roots-rock bands on the local scene. His father, Jim Hunt, recorded for King Records in the '60s as guitarist for the blue-eyed soul band Strangers in Town.

"You always want to imitate your dad," says Noah. "He used to play the guitar around the house when I was a kid, and I had a little ukulele and I would pretend that I was playing that. I got piano lessons when I was 4, but I really wanted to play the guitar."

At 16, Noah and a friend started a rock band. Unable to afford equipment, they stole it from their high school band room and were immediately caught.

"I was grounded for six months. So I took Dad's old guitar that he used to play and eventually, I taught myself to really play guitar.

"When I graduated from college, Mom wanted me to be a writer and Dad kind of wanted me to be a lawyer, like he was. And I said, 'I'm going to be a full-time musician.' And he supported my decision. He said, 'You can do anything you want, as long as you can pay your bills.'

"Now they have great fun coming out to watch me play all around the world. They bounce around backstage and bother Ted Nugent and (ZZ Top bassist) Dusty Hill. And later the guys come up to me and say, 'Oh yeah, I talked to your folks.' Your parents never stop embarrassing you."

Adrian, Andrew and Ted Karas

[IMAGE] Ted Karas (left) and sons Andrew and Adrian.
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Guitarist/drummer Adrian Karas, 18, is a member of the Death Jazz All Stars, winner of the 2003 Bogart's High School Band Challenge, and son of guitarist Ted Karas (CatCity, Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra). His mom is singer Dixie Karas.

"I've always kind of looked up to him. I've always thought he was a really, extremely good guitarist. I always told him when I was young that I didn't want him to help me out when I was learning, that that would be an unfair advantage."

"He's always supported all the musical projects I've ever been involved in. He's always willing to help, always willing to sacrifice whatever he's doing. He's always ready to jam with us, to lay down a (recording) track."

Adrian's younger brother Andrew, 16, is a drummer/producer and member of the Labjackets, a finalist in the 2002 Bogart's High School Band Challenge.

"I always give my dad the credit, but then he turns it over to my mom. 'You got it from her.'

"But he showed me a lot of things. If I have a question about some kind of chord progression or whatever, he's always there. I basically branched off to do my own thing in hip-hop. But he basically supports me in whatever I do."

Keith Jr. and Keith Little

Keith Little Jr., 24, has played drums with his father, popular local bluesman Keith Little Sr., since he was 13. He has developed into one of the better blues drummers on the scene and says he owes it all to his dad.

"He showed me timing, he showed me what drums make what sounds and how to actually put 'em all together and perform my own beats with 'em. He showed me basically everything I know. And now I'm learning from him how to play the bass, guitar, keyboards.

"But he also taught me that there's a lot more in music than making money, and that if your put your best efforts forth, good things will be rewarded. He started me in church and then I progressed and started playing blues, and this is the music I love to play with my father. He's very inspiring to me."

More important than timing, Keith Jr. says Keith Sr. gave him time.

"Love, time and affection - that's the most important and the most valuable things he could ever give me. Without that time, I wouldn't be where I am today."

William and Bruce Menefield

[IMAGE] Bruce Menefield (left) and son William.
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Award-winning jazz pianist/composer William Menefield, 22, is the son of jazz saxophonist and educator Bruce Menefield.

"I just grew up listening to my dad play, rehearsing around the house, gigging around town. He didn't specifically want me to be a jazz musician. He didn't force it down my throat or anything. I loved to listen to him and it was just a natural progression for me to get into jazz."

The most important advice he remembers getting from his dad: "Play what you hear. Always play what you hear and don't just do what's supposed to be hip."

Robbie, Katie and Rob Reider

Rob Reider is known to Cincinnati's senior citizens as "that nice young man from The Bob Braun Show." Boomers remember him as the John Denver-influenced folkie from the Queen City Balladeers and the Blind Lemon in Mount Adams. But to twenty- and thirtysomethings, he's the dad of singer/songwriters Katie and Robbie Reider, two of the five Reider kids.

[IMAGE] Katie Reider gets a kiss from brother Robbie at the 1999 Cammys.
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Katie, 25, is the best-known young Reider. Her songs, blending folk, rock and pop, have been featured on Dawson's Creek and radio stations around the country. She is recording a stripped-down album without her band, focusing on her voice and guitar.

Growing up, there was always music, she recalls.

"Birthdays, Christmas, in the Reider house all these days started off with being serenaded by mom and dad. You'd be awakened by 'Happy Birthday' or a Christmas tune through your bedroom door. Singing was just everywhere in the house; music was just always on the stereo.

"It was easy for me to sing. That was something we'd always done and I wasn't thinking this at the time, but it was, 'Yeah, I want to be like Dad. I do want to do what he does.' But when you're in fifth and sixth and seventh grade, you're not thinking, 'Wow! It's amazing that my dad has made all of these things, that he loves his career.' That's just what we grew up in."

Her father's biggest influence on her, she adds, was "not to sell out; just keep doing what you love, and if it's music, keep doing it until you stop loving it." One of the benefits of having a musical dad, says Robbie, 28, is that you don't have to learn on cruddy instruments.

"I learned to play guitar on a 1970 Martin D28 - easily a $2,500 guitar." But it was the senior Reider's attitude more than his equipment that really inspired his son.

"He never made us play piano or learn old standards or bluegrass. He just had a great time making music and that made it so attractive. Evidently it had gotten him a beautiful wife, too (their mom, Gaile), so that was enticing. In so many ways, this has shaped the way I approach music today and how I want to share music with my son, Olson (age 2). I want to enjoy music as much as he (Rob Sr.) does when I'm fifty-something. I want to be like him when I grow up."

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