My life is messily spread across Brooklyn, Appalachia, and on the road around the US and the world.
Since 1995, I have worked professionally as a musician, and later as musical director and sometimes film composer. I founded the band Antibalas in 1997 and was a founding member of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings (and the Soul Providers) as well as an early quasi-member of the musical TV on the Radio.
In Spring 2018, I served as an adjunct lecturer in the Department of African American Studies at Pennsylvania State University, and also was an artist-in-residence with some Antibalas mates at Miami Edison High School as part of the O Miami Poetry Festival. I hold a M.Ed in Education from University of Texas at Brownsville and design curriculum both for the classroom and for online learning.
I love comedy and occasionally perform standup.
I am involved in arts activism and creative change. I also helped with education and organizing of my local community of Spring Township PA against Nestle Water North America. We successfully chased them away before they could get a foothold and bleed us dry. I also do music/tech related activism and visited Capitol Hill with a delegation of musicians and radio station managers to lobby for the Fair Play, Fair Pay Act, as well as meetings with members of the FCC to promote Net Neutrality for artists and small business owners.
Antibalas, Angélique Kidjo, Mark Ronson, Jeff Bhasker, Greg Phillinganes, Willie Weeks, Ray Angry, Dr. John, Michael McDonald, Ledisi, Anthony Hamilton, Gregory Porter, Valerie Simpson, Eric Harland, Ed Sheeran, The Roots, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Brian Jackson, Steven Bernstein, Kyp Malone and Tunde Adebimpe (TV on the Radio), Saul Williams, Miguel Zenón, William Bell, Ricki Lee Jones, Rachael Price, Bettye Lavette, Lizz Wright, John Medeski, Zap Mama, Santigold, Lorenzo "Jovanotti" Cherubini, The Stepkids, and String Cheese Incident, Sam Moore, Don Bryant, Kenny Loggins, Sarah Dash, Taj and Deva Mahal, Todd Rundgren, Ceelo Green, Melissa Etheridge, Ruthie Foster, Living Colour, and G-Love.
I play Bari reeds and use a Bari 110 hard rubber mouthpiece. My main horn is a 1961 Selmer Mark VI (Low A). I also play a 1956 Martin "The Martin" Tenor, a 1953 Martin "The Martin" baritone saxophone (Low Bb) and a 1910 Buffet / Evette & Schaefer alto saxophone. I use a Yamaha 281S soprano flute and a DC alto flute. My shekeres are made exclusively by Madeleine Yayodele Nelson (Women of the Calabash).