Stacks Image 350
Stacks Image 351
A few steps away from where I write are my other keyboards, and I pause during the workday to refresh my brain and loosen up my fingers and arm muscles with a piano workout.

Music has been an integral part of my entire life, starting with two musical parents, plentiful access to music at home, and lessons. There was, at age 8, a short time in Westmont, NJ with a nun as a teacher and
Teaching Little Fingers to Play as a text. And there was less than two years in Port Washington, NY, around age 13, but I learned chords and at least how to read treble clef (thanks, Joseph Kenny, Queens, NY, wherever you are!).

Mostly, though, I had a good ear––close to perfect pitch at one point––able to reproduce melodies and figure out chords and progressions.
Stacks Image 352
Stacks Image 353
Stacks Image 354
Stacks Image 355
When I was 13, a cousin's boyfriend (he was in a band!) showed me some Ray Charles licks. At 14, a friend gave me a Jerry Lee Lewis album. I learned & got competent enough to start forming bands at 15––"The Audios" and the "Centurians." Dig that.
Stacks Image 356
Stacks Image 357
Stacks Image 358
Stacks Image 359
We played at dances, influenced as much by Chuck Berry & early Elvis as the Beatles.
Stacks Image 360

We played at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair three times!
Stacks Image 361
At Boston University and in the city at large, I connected with many musicians who loved roots music. For a few years we had a weekly jam session going, and we all learned from each other, lending records and sharing what we learned. Some of the 18-19-20-year-old musicians at that time were James Montgomery, Bonnie Raitt, Jeff Baxter, Ronnie Earle, Bob Margolin, Rich "Rosey" Rosenblatt, Bob McCarthy, Josef "Lizard" Idoine, Jeff Lyle, David Broderick, David Epstein, Mark Harvey. And many more. With all the Boston-area schools, and clubs, and outdoor events, there were always places to perform. And all the acts we saw, time after time! Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, James Cotton, Fred McDowell, Mance Lipscomb, Arthur Crudup. Not to mention the rock groups (Hendrix, Cream, Joplin, the Dead, Who, Sly, BS&T, Spirit, Cold Blood, Allmans). What a heady time!
Stacks Image 362
I was in a bunch of formal but short-lived blues bands, but in senior year of B.U. I joined my pal from first day of freshman orientation (when we skipped the lecture on Alfred North Whitehead and the meaning of education). James Montgomery was from Michigan, and was forming a band that would go through many permutations over the next (gulp) 40 plus years; he's still going strong--find him on YouTube--one of the hardest working musicians I know. I was his first keyboard player. Here we are at a '71 antiwar concert moved into BU's Marsh Chapel when rain appeared. Later that afternoon at the Boston Common we played before thousands, just before Sen. Ted Kennedy spoke. The crowd didn't want us to leave, and let the Senator speak only after promising that we'd come back to end the rally with more music. Talk about a peak experience. (Thanks, Michael Dobo, for giving permission to use the photo!)

Personnel from left: David Bain (p), Tom Principato (g), Chuck Purro (d), James Montgomery (h, v), Bill Mather (b), Larry Carsman (g).
Stacks Image 363
Stacks Image 364

James and I had a reunion with our old drummer friend Chris Coon, Brattleboro, VT, 2010

Stacks Image 365
Stacks Image 366
For a couple years past college, I was in a bunch of great, mostly forgotten bands, but there WAS a gig with Bonnie Raitt (and Freebo, and Montgomery's band) to celebrate the first one of us youngsters to bring out an album! Jack's Pub on Mass. Ave., Cambridge. I'll never forget that night.
Stacks Image 367

Here's another one of Bonnie from that time (1971). I also had gigs with John Lee Hooker (a week at the Unicorn Coffeehouse), T-Bone Walker (2 nights, Joe's Place), and played often with people like Tom Principato, Bill Colwell, Chicago Bob Nelson, Sarah Brown, Peter Goff, and Rosey Rosenblatt, all over eastern New England. Wonderful experiences.
Stacks Image 368

Down in NY, where I moved to begin a literary life, first in book publishing and then as a full-time writer, music took a back seat to a certain extent, with the exception of the weekly piano stool at a legendary wine and cheese cafe down near the harbor in Port Washington, my home town. That went on for nearly 15 years, playing and singing solo, thanks to my friend Tom Amato, owner and tambourine player here. I was doing "Caledonia" when the lady who became my wife walked in; she died 23 years later, but music (and art, and words) filled our life and was infused into our 2 children. Crazy 'bout my baby 'cause Caledonia is her name!
Stacks Image 369
After my first book was published I got a fellowship to Middlebury College's Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, located up in the Green Mountains of Vermont at a beautiful old Victorian inn. One thing about those annual 2-week conferences––we found time for a lot of music, late at night. After a day of workshopping and talking excitedly about our writing and the writing life, it was a great relief to congregate in the huge barn around a battered Steinway grand, and lapse into total recall of every song we ever knew. Sometimes there'd be 100 people in there, bellowing, "Shake, Baby Shake!" or "Won't you let me take you on a Sea Cruise!" Sometimes there'd be three or four, doing a maudlin "Bring It On Home to Me."
Stacks Image 370
Stacks Image 371
Stacks Image 372
I include these pictures because of the incredible moments they captured––crowd standing around the piano, including (top left) the novelist John Gardner to my right, and also behind me (bottom left), with novelist Stanley Elkin standing on left. (Above) Honoree Jeffers is not only a poet but a killer singer. So many other friends through music and words––too numerous to mention.
Stacks Image 373
Moving to Vermont in 1987 to begin my long career teaching writing at Middlebury College, we began raising a family, and of course the books as well as the music continued. Here, in 1990, we see the gray creeping in (not because of children, not because of thousands of student papers, oh no!).

Musically, I was with a band called Sleeping Dogs for a few years, and formed a sporadic jam band with Chris Coon called the Phat Bubba Band, and then after a hiatus I returned to solo work, mostly at a great Middlebury club called 51 Main, next to the Falls. The past year or so I've fallen in with a great community of blues musicians spread all over Vermont––there are monthly jams held both in Middlebury and Richmond, Vermont, and we put together groups at the drop of an invitation, floating personnel, all over the place. I've gigged with the best up here, but want to mention Dennis Willmott of Left Eye Jump Blues Band (and his bandmates), Bob Stannard, and Charley Hilbert as capturing the spirit, for me, of those good ole days down on Comm and Mass Aves.

Below are some YouTube samples––nothing fancy, no frills, unrehearsed, and totally fun––moments from the mid-90s and also the past year. Enjoy.
Further On Up the Road –– 51 Main Street Bistro, Middlebury, Vermont, 2011.
A great hit for Bobby "Blue" Bland as well as Eric Clapton. Personnel: Mimi Bain (v), David Bain (p), Dennis Willmott (g), Karl Miller (g), "Kenny B" Bleckley (b), Rob Zollmann (d), Bob Eaton (h).
Next Time You See Me –– On the Cafe piano in my foyer, 2010
Done originally by Junior Parker and sped up by James Cotton. Personnel: WYSIWYG.
What Am I 'Sposed To Do –– 51 Main Street Bistro, Middlebury, Vermont, 2011. Monthly blues jam.
Personnel: Dennis Willmott (guitar, vocal), Charlie Hilbert (guitar), Jay Gleason (drums), Kenny B. (bass), David Bain (piano).
Other Side of the Story –– 51 Main Street Bistro, Middlebury, Vermont, 2011. Monthly blues jam.
Personnel: Dennis Willmott (guitar, vocal), Karl Miller (guitar), David Bain (piano), Kenny B. (bass), Rob Zollmann (drums), Bob Eaton (harp).
Twenty Dollar Bill –– 51 Main Street Bistro, Middlebury, Vermont, 2011. Monthly blues jam.
Dennis Willmott (guitar), featuring Bob Stannard (vocal, harmonicas), Kenny B. (bass), Karl Miller (guitar), David Bain (piano), Rob Zollman (drums). Truly horrible camera work! I would have erased this but for the spirit we produced that night.
Seventh Son –– On the Cafe piano in my foyer, 2010
Experiment at cafe-playing in my foyer. We'll be putting some tables in any day now. The glorious Willie Dixon song, run through a Mose Allison food processor and then expressed on the 5:14 to somewhere near New Orleans in the days of house-rent parties and Saturday night fish fries. I think. Personnel: WYSIWYG.
I've Had My Fun –– Gallagher's Pub, Waitsfield, Vermont, 1996.
The Phat Bubba Band. Personnel: Chris "Bubba" Coon (drums), David Bain (piano, vocals), Herman Auth (guitar), Jack Garvin (bass). This is an upbeat rendition of the classic 1920's St. Louis Jimmy song, "I've Had My Fun," as popularized by the Chicago blues harmonica great, Little Walter Jacobs. Listen to the words: this is a song about the perils of dissipation or illness -- is it about TB? Syphilis? Alcoholism? Or the modern day analogue for this song, AIDS? As Jacobs (and this band) rendered it, jaunty and what-the-heck, it guffaws in the face of the´╗┐ Reaper himself.
The Things I Used To Do –– Gallagher's Pub, Waitsfield, Vermont, 1996.
The Phat Bubba Band. Personnel: Chris "Bubba" Coon (drums), David Bain (piano, vocal), Derrick Semler (guitar), Tad Merrick (bass). The classic lament, originally done by Junior Parker.
Eyesight to the Blind –– Gallagher's Pub, Waitsfield, Vermont, 1996.
The Phat Bubba Band. Personnel: Chris "Bubba" Coon (drums), David Bain (piano, vocals), Herman Auth (guitar), Jack Garvin (bass). Another great shuffle blues, this one written by Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) and done memorably by a young B.B. King. Everybody wants to do this song -- a real rocker, fun to play, and for the vocalist, a roundhouse rant about a fellow's main squeeze. This vocalist has been singing this song for 40 years and never gets tired´╗┐ of it, especially the percussive second round of the third verse.
Stacks Image 374
Stacks Image 375
Stacks Image 376
Stacks Image 377
Stacks Image 378
Axes over the years. Above: Hohner Pianet N; Wurlitzer 200; Roland FP4; Oberheim B3-Sq. Right: Casio PX-320.
Stacks Image 50