As the family story goes, toddler Chris would make his way to the family piano and instead of pounding wildly on the keys Chris would create a simple melody. In time that creative energy turned to piano lessons and Chris was on his way.
Along with his older sister and younger brother, Chris would sometimes break into impromptu concerts that sounded more like a comedy show gone awry than actual music. It was but one of the creative outlets for the not so shy kids of a Presbyterian pastor and his wife.
Through the years music would play a vital role as Chris tried a variety of instruments finally settling on the tuba in 5th grade. During concerts in grade school the tuba sat on a special chair where Chris would crawl up and be surrounded by the instrument. With his feet dangling from the seat and the music stand blocking the view of his face, his mother would often comment on how Chris “would just disappear” in order to perform on the tuba.
By middle school Chris was singing in the choir at both school and church, playing in the concert band, taking piano lessons and doing recitals and acting in plays. He also was spending many hours enjoy sports activities and hanging in the park with friends.
One day after high school his junior year, Chris was in the concert band room plucking away on the piano. Del Herrod the concert band teacher walked in and commented, “I didn’t know you played piano?” Mr. Herrod convinced Chris to join the jazz lab band even though he had no training in jazz.
Chris’ first day in jazz lab the fall of his senior year in high school proved to be pivotal. As the jazz band ended a warm up song, Mr. Herrod came over to the piano where Chris had been trying to follow along reading a jazz chord chart for the first time. Mr. Herrod asked Chris to show him how he was playing the chords on the piano. Chris had indeed played the correct chords, but it was when Mr. Herrod showed him a different way to play those same chords that the light switch went on for Chris. That senior year of jazz opened new creative arenas for Chris to experiment and expand his music. It lead being asked to play in two other bands, one jazz, one a cover band.
Chris’ early musical influences include Chicago (particularly keyboard/singer/songwriter Robert Lamm), Billy Joel, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Blood Sweat & Tears and many others. Chris is a strong supporter of the local musician, being one himself, and can be heard promoting the music of the region on the NorthWest Music podcast.
Chris’ earliest musical mentors, his first piano teacher Zelma Weymouth and high school music teacher Del Herrod, are never far from his own original songs today. Their instruction and encouragement, even when Chris found excuses not to practice, continue to motivate him today.