The time is now for music with a message about how we're going to get through this together.
At four years old, Chris’ mom brought him in for violin lessons with virtuoso Allen Ames, who stated:
“I don’t teach four-year-olds.” (Most four-year-olds don’t have the attention span for a proper lesson).
Chris’ mom replied:
“Please, take the money and spend a half hour with him. If it doesn’t work out, keep the money and we’ll leave you alone.”
A half hour later, Allen emerged from the studio smiling and said:
“I can teach him.”
Recalling the event, Chris remembered:
“I could just play. It just made sense.”
When Chris was seven, his dad brought home a classical/Spanish guitar. Playing a guitar requires less pinpoint precision than a violin. Chris took to it immediately. Dad showed him the chords to ‘I’ve Just Seen A Face’ and it was on: home from school, have a sandwich, play along with the radio or records until dinner. About a year later, dad bought a 1964 Fender Jazz bass. The ‘64 Fender L- series basses had skinny necks - perfect for a kid’s hands and again, it was on. About a year after that, Chris learned the satisfaction of coaxing notes out of the enormous pieces of wood and metal that form an upright, or double bass. He recalls:
“Mom would schlep that thing to Symphony rehearsals the only way it would fit in our car - with the neck sticking out the window. This got us pulled over and let off with a warning to hang it out the driver’s window rather than the passenger’s so as not to potentially take out a pedestrian. This was the only time mom ever gave me any trace of grief about supporting my music as she turned to me, smiled and said: ‘You couldn’t have stuck with the violin?’ “
By fourteen, Chris was playing professionally.
“The rest of the band were in their twenties and the trick to not getting hassled was not to be the first or last one through the door.”
A Jazz scholarship covered most school expenses while attending Arizona State University. Club gigs covered the rest. Playing double bass in the University Symphony meant performing in the world renowned Frank Lloyd Wright designed Grady Gammage auditorium. If you’re ever in Tempe, Arizona, may you experience the tremendous sound of Gammage auditorium.
After graduation, Chris checked out the music capitals of the U.S. and chose Austin, Texas for its vibrant yet laid back music scene and to be closer to his Texas relatives.
Friends are family we choose for ourselves and Chris has formed lifelong connections with some amazing individuals.
“Being introduced to Texas Tornado Ernie Durawa was among the most important meetings of my life as Ernie remains one of my strongest music influences and is more like an uncle than a bandmate. Ernie asked me to sit in and jam at a show featuring pianist Wiley Cousins. I gave it everything I had and received the best crowd response of the evening. While I was out on a Lollapalooza tour, Wiley reached out about forming a band to tour Scandinavia. When I returned, I asked him what he was going to call the band. ‘The Well Hungarians’, he replied. I dropped the phone, laughing. He really meant it, though. And after a couple of tours, we relocated to Finland. It’s a clean, safe, beautiful country and the Finns are among the most sincere people I’ve had the pleasure to know.”
Chris recorded his first solo album with the group and moved to London, where the singles "Anne" and "To Your Heart" received national airplay on BBC Radio 2 courtesy of England’s most illustrious DJ, ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris. (“Cheers, Bob!”)
Returning to the States, Chris formed his own band and was introduced to teaching by his teacher and mentor Bud Dimock, who also taught jazz giants Grant Geissman and Stanley Jordan.
“Uncle Bud’s approach to jazz remains one of the pillars of my music education.”
Chris continues to enjoy teaching privately and through Austin New School of Music’s after school program.
“We bring donated instruments to underserved schools that don’t even have a nurse or a library. I ask each student what instrument they want to play and we form a band. Within a couple of months, the student band begins recording a new song every month. It’s amazingly empowering for the kids and what they generate in such a short time is fantastic.”
Chris has been back in Austin since April, 2012, experiencing the joy and privilege of playing music with a growing list of legendary performers including Flaco Jimenez, Delbert McClinton, Andre Heyward, Joe ‘King’ Carrasco and Augie Meyers.
“This wealth of fine Austin musicians continues to raise my performance level and enhance my capacity to make art.”
For the past eleven years, He’s proudly served as Bassist, Vocalist and Musical Director for DURAWA. The group naturally features two time Grammy winning drummer Ernie Durawa along with renowned and beloved guitar virtuoso Will Owen Gage. At their weekly Tuesday Austin, Texas residency gig (now at El Mercado South), the core trio opens the show with an extraordinary musical conversation.
For the second set, they morph into a different band each week to accompany a different celebrity guest artist. Genres range across the spectrum: rock, blues, soul, country, jazz. The quality and variety keeps the shows interesting for everyone involved. And an engaged audience provides an excellent proving ground for new material.
“I spent about a year of our residency writing and performing a new song every week and the best ones are featured on the new album.”
The DuRAwa album was recorded live in only one or two takes per song. It features original Durawa guitarist, the astonishingly brilliant Will Knaak (Blue October, Parker McCollum).
Some of their friends who are also some of the finest musicians anywhere have since added their parts. Their illustrious album guest list includes Brian Mitchell (Levon Helm), Floyd Domino (Merle Haggard, Asleep At The Wheel), Chris Gage (Jerry Jeff Walker) Will Owen Gage, Dane Farnsworth (Keb Mo) and Alison Wedding.
“This music represents my life’s finest work. The songs are about peace, love, togetherness and improving the human condition. They’re played beautifully by some of the most delightful people I know who also lay down some of the baddest grooves around.”
Now is the time for the healing vibrations of a righteous rocking Texas soul band with a message to be heard and shared.
We are all part of 'One Human Race' together. To survive and thrive, we have to do this together.