to my dear friends Thorny and Diane who introduced
me to a most wondrous event "Jazzfest".
There are many reasons why I've fallen in love with
mother loves to tell the story about the day I was born
at Travis Air Force Base in California. There was an earthquake
that cracked the walls in her room and I've been shaking
things up ever since! Luckily, I was blessed by being born
into a musical family. My mother Dorothy and my brother
Barry were both great singers. We spent a lot of time singing
together and my brother's great love of Motown music was
a huge influence in my life.
was also very lucky to have worked with several excellent
choir directors. One church choir director at the Brethern
Church in Pottstown Pa. stands out in my mind, Ruth Levengood.
She placed me with the second sopranos which meant I
had to learn to sing harmony. This was very difficult
for me, but my best friend at church, Susie is an excellent
singer and I was able to imitate her until I learned
to hear the harmonies myself. Unfortunately, I never
learned to read music as I would immediately memorize
the tune, no matter how many cantatas we learned.
very influential experience I had was in high school,
at Pottstown Sr. High. We had annual musical plays which
required much diligent team work and commitment. It was
a huge group effort, involving many parts of the school,
not just the music department. The wood shop and art
classes worked together to create stage props. The home
economics classes (that's what we called it then) created
costumes and worked with us on make-up. We even had an
active stage crew, all working really hard to make our
shows very professional. It's a testament to how extremely
important the cultural arts are in a young adults development.
first performance, actually singing in front of
people was in the second grade, when I sang" The
Little Drummer Boy" for my classmates in Saxton Penna.
I have to admit, I was scared to death, but as always I persevered.
So many of today's young vocalists have amazing confidence,
but I never really did. The music helped me find myself and
many years of performance, gradually built my confidence
and ability to relate to the "crowd". I think it's
also important for the reader, that would be you, to know
that my family was nomadic. I have moved more times than
I can count on all my fingers and toes. Always being the "New
Kid", teaches a person a lot about human behavior. You
learn to be very observant, listening and waiting for acceptance
(sometimes you never get it). You learn to read body language
as it becomes essential to your survival. To be successful
in musical endeavors, you have to be an extremely attentive
I moved to the "North Country" in
1978. My bands
in many various forms included; "T & Ron", "Hickory
Wind", "The Terrina Russell-Band" as well
Velvet Rabbits". Another great and fun band I had the
pleasure of working with was "Mono Groove" from
Ticonderoga NY, which included John Kroner, Kenny McCalpine
and Jim Gabler. Along with all of that I was the "T" in "T-BONZ".
I get a big kick after hearing many people say "You
married us!", because we played at their wedding. My
career with the "T-BONZ" is legendary, entertaining
at weddings, parties and local haunts for over 25 years.
The T-BONZ band was originally the brain child of "T",
Ron Riddle, bassist and Richard Bolton, guitarist, although
our dear friends played with us for about 20 of those years,
saxophonist Mike Santos and drummer Fred House. We played
an eclectic collection of Rock, Swing, Soul, Blues and Country
music, and we had a blast. Every event we played was like
a family reunion.