About Music

"There are only two kinds of music: good music and everything else." -- Duke Ellington.

Music runs in my family -- from granddaddy Jewell, the fiddler, to my son Dan Heck, now a sought-after jazz guitarist in Naples, Florida. (That's one of his guitars I'm playing in the pic to the left.) When my family gets together, there's going to be music and singing -- it's our idea of a good time.

I've always had big ears for listening, and a willingness to jam with anybody who'd let me play, from bluegrass pickers to serious modern jazz players. This has led me down a number of interesting paths. I got my guitar chops together in a legendary Long Island garage band, I Forget (we got a lot of free publicity). Later, I was a founding member of the World's Best Skiffy BarBand: the Don't Quit Your Day Job Players. Unfortunately, moving out of New York meant leaving the DQYJP (it's hard to rehearse by e-mail), although not before playing on their first CD, "TKB." I still enjoy jamming with the DQYDJPs, which is a good bet to happen when we all end up at the same science fiction convention. Alas, the death of founding member David Honigsberg, the band's main songwriter, leaves a void no one can fill.

My current band is Col. Leonard's Irregulars, with Antoinette Smith on flute, recorders, and Irish tin whistles; Owen McCoy on guitar and lead vocals (he's the one in the middle in the photo); and (until recently) Karl Gottesman on guitar and vocals. I play electric guitar and sing, as well. All of us had played together in different configurations several times before we got together at Owen's farmhouse near Langford Bay, to work on some Irish material. But the repertory quickly grew to include a mix of styles worthy of the band's name: blues, folk, jazz, bluegrass, vintage pop tunes, even a taste of rock. These are some of the best musicians I've had the pleasure of working with -- and their willingness to work together to make good music makes playing with them gratifying as well as fun.

Our official debut was at Play It Again, Sam, a really cool coffeehouse in Chestertown (the chess club meets there, too). That standing-room-only appearance brought us offers to play a number of other gigs in the local area, including an outdoor concert as part of the Chestertown Music in the Park series, the Kent County Fair and Rock Hall Fall Fest. If you're going to be in the area, drop me an email to check whether we'll be playing somewhere!