~ When did you take up your artistry and how long have you been involved
Christopher: I began in 1978 with a group from Norwalk, Ohio, called Hot Rox. A friend of my father's loaned us a TEAC 4-track tape machine and I was hooked on songwriting/recording. We released a 12 song cassette in 1979. There were a lot of high school bands playing out at that time, but for what it's worth, in that part of Ohio, we were the only group with that much original material.
PA ~ Musically, how would you describe your sound/genre?
Christopher: I am a folk singer with some songs tending toward Americana
PA ~ What gravitated you toward your artistic work?
Christopher: My dad and my uncle played music in Chicago as the Reynolds brothers. They were my first influence. I played in church. As a kid, I listened to my parents Johnny Cash and Peter, Paul and Mary records. In 8th grade, a friend of mine bought an electric guitar and brought it to school. When all the girls rushed over to him as he played some simple riff, I thought to myself that that rock and roll thing was a good way to go. At first, I have to admit that i did it for the 'booty'. Four years later, at the death of a friend, I began to write a song for him and was deeply healed by the process. Music is beauty and medicine. I think I'm somewhere between the two now. I do it for the beauty and the booty.
PA ~ Who are your influenced by?
Christopher: At first, the Beatles, then Kiss and Aerosmith, Peter Gabriel. I had a transformative experience as a student in Bowling Green. Alex Bevan played a room called the Side Door. It was just him and a harmonica player. He had the room spellbound for 2 hours. After so many years of hauling equipment and losing money to pay for a light show, I loved the simplicity of one man, one guitar, one voice.
PA ~ I understand you have a new CD, The Urground Railroad: Recollector, what is the in store for?
Christopher: Recollector is my move into the digital age. It's my 9th CD. I had a lot of material that I wanted to make available to a larger public. Instead of tagging all my catalogue with the download codes, I chose the 4 best songs from each of my earlier releases. It's a "best of" compilation, a recollection.
PA ~ How is the CD being received?
Christopher: Very well. In particular, a number of my songs are placed in Norwalk. WLKR is about Norwalk's old radio station and the DJ, Martin Davis. It was bought out by a corporate entity and I was told that they let go of 24 of the 26 persons who worked there. That song is doing well back where I grew up. I got interviewed by the Norwalk Reflector. The teenager inside me has really appreciated finally getting some recognition after all these years.
PA ~ Do you have a favorite composition on the CD?
Christopher: Yes. I really like the song, Enchanted Land. It describes a series of events, almost mystical, that happened when I was between 12 and 16 years old. I am telling stories about why the part of Ohio where we live is a Holy Land too.
PA ~ Will you be touring to promote Recollector?
Christopher: Yes. Original music lover, Brian Schmuck, who runs Waldo's Cafe, out of the Unitarian Universalist church in Rocky River and Tom Ball at the Summit in Akron are working with me to promote the music. There is also, Kim Sweet-Buzzard down at Ashland with her Sweet Spot show that will be helping out. Things will be in motion in early 2006.
PA ~ Any other projects or follow ups in the works presently?
Christopher: Yes. I have enough material for the next release. I want to go back to working with a band. There are some great musicians in the area, Paul and Bill Kraker, Chris Cummings, Carlos Jones, among others that I want to work with.
PA ~ Do you perform solo or normally with a group?
Christopher: The past 3 years, I have been a solo performer.
PA ~ Any performances coming up you'd like to plug?
Christopher: Just to visit my website at Urrealist.com. The song, Enchanted Land is available for listening.
PA ~ What would someone expect attending one of your shows?
Christopher: My shows are like traveling to different places, as in a journey. You can expect to sit back and enjoy the mental pictures that come with the imagery of the songs.
PA ~ Do you perform outside of your hometown?
Christopher: Yes. I performed in Toronto in October.
PA ~ During your artistic journey so far, any interesting (funny, bizarre, highlight, nightmare etc...) stories come to mind you'd like to share with us?
Christopher: In 1991, I released a recording called, Ex Una Plura: Out of One Come Many. There is a song I wrote called, Broken God. I think that's my riskiest piece. It broke up my band. My car broke down the day we were supposed to record it. It was a break down and break through, pretty scary because I was smashing the God image of my Catholicism.
PA ~ Give us your thoughts on the indie music scene good and not so good.
Christopher: The folk scene, with Folknet, is great. People like Larry Bruner, Jim Stone, Walt Campbell, have worked hard. Tommy Wiggins at Tri-C has created a great platform and school for the region. I want to have an Austin City Limits show happen out of the Rock Hall of Fame. Tommy has his Crooked River show, but I think we could do better to promote our own. Larry Koval at Littlefish Records has put together a Christmas compilation. I think that is a great project.
PA ~ How is the artistic scene in Northeast Ohio evolving?
Christopher: There are a ton of excellent songwriters/performers who are in it for the long haul. People like me with 30 years experience or more in music. We are a resource waiting to be tapped.
PA ~ What has the highlight of your career been?
Christopher: I played with a friend named John Husbands. We were called, Those Guys. We opened for Donovan at Peabody's and after the show we sat down with him and drank beers.
PA ~ What are some goals you hope to accomplish in the future?
Christopher: I just want to get that one hit that goes nationally. and I don't even care if I'm a one-hit wonder. My last 3 CD's have been about a folk music rooted in the land and in the new cosmology. I want to tour the USA playing places where we are in the dark and under the starry heavens.
PA ~ What are your other interests outside of music?
Christopher: I am the French teacher at Berea High School. I am the founder of Urrealism. Urrealism is an art movement rooted in the writings of Andre Breton. Through Urrealism, I am waging creativity in a time when there are so many waging war. I teach teachers creativity at Ashland University for the gifted/talented program with my friend, Jane Piirto. I work as a scholar and am published in the fields of depth psychology, creativity and the soul of teaching. I am on the board at Angel House in Strongsville, OH (angelhousestrongsville.com) That is a school of creativity and spirituality. I think that the creativity of the people is our greatest natural resource.
PA ~ What was the best piece of advice you ever heard that motivates you in pursuit of your artistry?
Christopher: The songwriter, Jeff Black, has a line in one of his songs, "God respects me when I work hard, but he loves me when I sing." That sums up the heart of the work, for me.
PA ~ Where can someone find out more about Christopher?
Christopher: You can see my website at: Urrealist.com and you can see my stuff on Littlefishrecords.com. I have a chapter in the book from SUNY, Holistic Learning and Spirituality in Education. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org