20/20 Visions

I'm a stay-at-home dad but I've been writing, recording and performing my songs for almost 25 years.

In the early 1990s, I was a singer-songwriter headlining at folk clubs, colleges and coffeehouses throughout the Northeast and Midwest. I performed at places like Club Passsim, Caffe Lena, The Bluebird Cafe, Eddie's Attic, Cafe Carpe, Berklee Performance Center, Illinois Wesleyan, Skidmore College, WPI, Indiana University, Columbia University and The Boston Hatch Shell.

I co-billed and shared "writers-in-the-round" nights with fantastic writers like Kristian Bush, Shawn Mullins, Dar Williams, Pierce Pettis, Ron Sexsmith and Carrie Newcomer. I opened for stellar songwriters like Richard Thompson, Loudon Wainwright III, Peter Case, John Gorka, Livingston Taylor, Cheryl Wheeler, David Mallett and Danny O'Keefe.

I co-founded the seminal songwriters' collective End Construction Productions with Ellis Paul, Jim Infantino and Brian Doser. Our collaboration -- captured on the album Resume Speed (1990) -- has been widely recognized as one of the main catalysts for the resurgence of the New England folk scene.

I released two solo albums -- this is NOW (1992) and yeahyeahyeah (1994) -- which received tons of airplay on folk radio stations, as well as excellent reviews from critics and fans alike. In 2004, I released a live-in-one-take, career-up-to-that-moment retrospective of sorts, called Take A Breath.

In 1994, I put a band together to back me at my concerts. A couple years later I named the band The Loomers because Jon Svetkey & The Big Loud Band wasn't catchy enough. We played a ton of shows in the mid-to-late 90s -- released two albums, Simple As That (1998) and Escalation (1997) -- but we slowed down when I decided to get a full-time job as a copywriter at an ad agency. I left the job after five years to stay home with my kids but my boss (well, friend who happened to be my boss) joined the band. Since then we've had some pretty amazing experiences. We performed at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Fenway Park, CBGBs, The Knitting Factory, and Berklee College of Music; backed John Mellencamp at a private party during the 2004 Democratic National Convention (Livingston Taylor was our opening act and the governor of Maryland borrowed our gear!); competed as finalists in the Fortune Magazine Battle of the Corporate Bands; and won the Jury Prize at Berklee College of Music's Battle of the Executive Bands. We have also released three more albums of my songs -- Reeling Down A Road (2010), Tomorrow Today (2006), Shine (2004) -- and still manage to gig monthly. Best of all, despite our leading very full lives with jobs and children, we still manage to perform regularly, and our performances have raised many thousands of dollars for some incredibly deserving charities.

Over the years, my songs have appeared on CBS, Cinemax, The CW, MTV, PBS, NBC, The Dr. Demento Show and several nationally distributed compilation albums. And just to drop a few more names, I've sung or played guitar on albums by Ellis Paul, Don Conoscenti, Chris Chandler and Jim Infantino and written a bunch of songs with folksinger Don White.

Last, but certainly not least, my wife, Heather Quay, and I perform together in cafes and bars these days. We sing some of her songs, some of mine, and a whole lot of folk, pop and country covers in two-part harmony for hours on end. It's a whole lot of fun -- a great date night for us -- and if we're lucky sometimes it pays for the babysitter!

What does the next 25 years of my music career look like? How do I balance music for fun and gratification (writing songs, singing with my wife, my band, solo, at church, with new friends) and music as a money-making career (getting cuts, song placements, publishing deals, co-writing, etc.) without either interfering with the daily demands of my family? I'm looking forward to finding out. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

updated: 3 years ago