My journey into music started in third grade when I decided I wanted to learn the piano. This was a time when people were starting to sell their black and white TVs for color sets and there was no such thing as a synthesizer. I kept practicing and playing until I got into the school jazz band in Junior High and was hooked from there. I played in the school bands and talent shows all through high school and started playing a small clubs in 1966. I played with rock & rolls bands until spending about four years with the Guy George Jazz quartet in the early 70s. During that time I was also teaching at Master Music on Cleveland’s West side, working as an instructional aide in the music department of the Cleveland Supplementary Education Center and a music major at Cuyahoga Community College. It was at the Supplementary Center that I built my first synthesizer (which looked like an operators switchboard from the 20s) and received my inauguration to the world of electronic music.
I left college early to find my fortune on the road and traveled around the country with the band “Take Five” for about 12 years. We were playing the lounge circuit back when every place you went had live bands and you pretty much worked six nights a week. We played from Maine to Texas and all points in between. Then somewhere in the 80s I came back and started playing mostly in the Cleveland area. I eventually joined the band Masterpiece with Benny Jackson and stayed with them playing Motown and funk. Masterpiece was together for 13 years and played all through the Cleveland area and often at the Wagon Wheel in Madison.
The last few years I have been working with a great oldies trio called Magic. This was a unique arrangement of two vocalists and me on keyboards. It gave me time to work on full midi arrangements that were all keyboard based. I keep some of my music history on my website, www.danwatkins.ws.
I was introduced recently to “The Girls” by my great friend and musician Dr. Walt Viewig. When you talk about things going full circle, Walt and I played together in the Guy George Jazz quartet about three paragraphs and 30 years ago. The music just never stops.
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