Mommybites Chit-Chat: Conversations with luminaries, entrepreneurs and influencers in the parenting world
Tell us a little about you (your background, your job, what makes you tick or anything else you think our Mommybites moms will find interesting).
My parents left Brooklyn before I was born and settled in Brussels, Belgium, for seven years while my father attended medical school there. After the first three years, I was born. My first language was French, but when we moved back to Flatbush, Brooklyn, English quickly took over.
I cannot be completely sure, because there are many photos that look like what I’m about to describe, but I believe one of my first memories is being in my crib in Belgium and seeing/hearing my father finger-picking an acoustic guitar while singing. I have this image of him singing in a hallway and it being so soothing. Thus began my musical life!
At the age of nine I began playing clarinet and added the saxophone at age 12.
I attended the High School of Music and Performing Arts in NYC. It was the greatest musical education. In college I began writing songs and playing guitar in coffeehouses and bars.
After travelling for a while, I came back to New York and began working as a sax player, studio engineer, and music teacher. I formed a rock band… we played late, late at night to some very empty rooms, but I loved it!!
Then I got into music production and opened a studio with my partner Rich Mercurio. I’ve had the pleasure of working as an engineer, producer, mixer, and mastering engineer for artists like Sara Bareilles, Katherine McFee, Warren Haynes, Peter Yarrow, and many more.
Working with Peter Yarrow was especially important to me because I had created Hot Peas ‘n Butter (my family music band) based on my love of artists like Doc Watson, Pete Seeger, and…Peter Yarrow! When I began working on our latest album release, “Back to the Land,” I gathered up my courage and sent a letter to Peter Yarrow asking if he’d join me on the album, AND HE SAID YES!
Who or what inspires you?
As I wear many hats in the music industry, there are many people who inspire me, from artists to producers. I am inspired by my father who basically opened the world of music to me. Another inspiration has been Professor Louie, who taught me how to sing to kids with respect for them and how to relate to an audience.
I am also extremely inspired by other musicians in my genre, namely Dan Zanes, Laurie Berkner, Peter Yarrow, and so many more. As a mixer, I am inspired by Andrew Scheps and Tony Maserati.
What is your best piece of parenting advice?
Tough question. Every time I think I’ve got a handle on parenting I get thrown for a loop. I guess the main advice I would give is to try really hard to listen to your kids. They may be really similar to you, but they are not you, and it’s important let them be who they truly are and to love them for who they truly are.
What’s the worst piece of parenting advice you have heard?
Trying to force your kids to be like you (does not work, nor should it).
What’s the most common question you are asked by parents?
How do you know if you’re doing a good job parenting? And does it get easier?
What are some of your favorite T.V. shows? Books? Foods?
For TV: I’m old school. When we have TV dinners, it’s The Simpsons. When my kids were very young, it was Jack’s Big Music Show.
Favorite books: Notes from the Underground, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Heart of Darkness, The Illustrated Man, and For Whom the Bell Tolls.
Foods: anything Turkish (Manti) or Vietnamese, and I love Korean BBQ (Bulgogi).
What parenting books do you most recommend to parents?
How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and Listen So Your Kids Will Talk.
What are some of your favorite parenting products?
We are a water loving family. We swim even when it’s cold so… kids’ wetsuits! They are not cheap, but they’ll keep the kids warm.
If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be and why?
I think I’d like to be each of my kids for a day, especially in the summer when they’re having so much fun.
What’s up next for you professionally?
I’m currently promoting Hot Peas ‘n Butter’s brand new album, “Back to the Land,” and we are planning our next music video featuring our fans. Anyone may submit a photo or video showing why and how they love the Earth. We’re gathering images and videos to include in the video.
We are also busy planning our upcoming tour.
Are there any other questions you wish we asked? If so, what and how would you answer?
I wish you had asked, “What’s your favorite audience to perform for?” Answer… Kids and Families!!