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Alex (or Axle, to his friends) was first exposed to Bluegrass music while in high school. One day, he was thumbing his way through his dad's L.P.s and came across a band called "Old and in the Way." The band's lineup was legendary: Jerry Garcia on banjo, David Grisman on mandolin, Peter Rowan on gutiar, Vassar Clements on fiddle, and John Kahn on bass. He dropped the needle at the beginning of track 1 - "Pig in a Pen" - and was hooked. That was it. From then on, he knew he had to learn to play Bluegrass music. Alex took to it quickly. There was a guitar in the house, a beat-up and nearly unplayable instrument that Alex used to build his callouses. That Christmas, he received a much nicer guitar and an instructional book from the great Dan Crary. He was on his way. The following August, Alex attended his first Bluegrass event, the Summergrass Bluegrass Festival in his home town of Vista, California. At this event, the author of the instructional book, Dan Crary, was performing solo. The sun was setting behind the stage, you could smell the grass in the hot August air and on stage was a man and his guitar. "That really had an impact on me and inspired me. I said 'that's what I want to do.'" A couple years later, Alex would perform at Summergrass himself, with a band.|
"Another inspiration to me was Les Preston. He was active in the Bluegrass scene here in San Diego, and I met him at Summergrass. I started going to the San Diego Bluegrass Society and North County Bluegrass and Folk Club meetings on Tuesdays to jam, and soon Les asked me to join the band he had with his wife, Lou Ann. I learned a lot from Les and Lou Ann." Together with banjo player Bernie Poindexter and fiddle player John Mailander, they formed the "Soledad Mountain Band." Eventually Bernie moved away, and was replaced by banjoist Corky Shelton. This band performed all over San Diego at club meetings, live radio, private events, churches and more. Eventually, Les and Lou Ann had to move out of state for work and the group was disbanded.
Also during this time, Alex joined forces with Scott Gates et. al. to play in the "Pacific Ocean Bluegrass Band," and later the "Scott Gates Band" until Scott went a different direction with his music.
One day at a club meeting in Escondido, Alex was jamming with dobro player Will Jaffe, with whom he had played a few times before. They hit it off almost immediately and started a band right away, calling themselves "Blue Creek." The group performed at a diverse range of venues from coffee shops to weddings. "Some of my favorite gig memories are with Blue Creek. Two really stick out in my mind. The first was a wedding gig in the foothills in L.A. It was a four mile hike to the retreat camp, and we had to carry our instruments the whole way. It was a beautiful hike and a great little mountain retreat. We played the ceremony, and that evening we played the reception, which ran late. Everyone was having a great time and you could tell we were exactly the type of music they wanted, which always feels good. We were put up in a bunk house on the retreat grounds over night. In the morning, we woke up to the smell of smoke. The canyon over the next ridge had caught fire! They closed the trail out of camp and we weren't sure exactly what was going to happen. Soon we were told that L.A. County Sheriff's Resuce 5 helicopter was going to come in and take us out. It took several trips, but the whole wedding party was evacuated by helicopter. I must admit I felt a little like Jimi Hendrix!"
"The other gig that really sticks out in my mind during this time of my life was the Strawberry Jamboree, a big festival in Vista held at the Moonlight Amphitheater. Blue Creek was asked to be the backing band for a couple segments. We backed up two broadway singers, a big choir, and the best moment of all: we got to back up country legend Patti Page! We did 'Tennessee Waltz' and I was just so glad that I got to have that experience."
Alex had to move out of San Diego for a job, and left Blue Creek. A couple years later, he was introduced to Evan Marshall, by former band mate Scott Gates. That collaboration produced a few Duo and Trio performances, and later resulted in Alex being asked to join the "Miskey Mountain Boys," which is currently his main project. "Playing with these folks has been amazing. They're all such accomplished musicians individually, and then we all get together and make this great music. It's really special, and I love being part of it."
The Miskey Mountain Boys are a 6-piece band featuring the incomparable Evan Marshall on mandolin, Michelle Lynskey on Bass and Vocals, Andy Rau on Banjo, John Marshall on Fiddle and Bass; Debbie Kollgaard on Cello, and Alex on Guitar, performing a unique blend of Jazz, Bluegrass and Swing.
Their combined talents and expertise create this incredible, one-of-a-kind band, that seamlessly blend jazz, classical and swing with traditional Bluegrass. Featuring unique "Miskified" musical arrangements, innovative elements, driving Bluegrass and powerhouse vocals, this show blends mastery with laughter, joy and camaraderie to create an unforgettable experience for their audiences.
He also performs sporadic solo dates, and says he's never going to stop performing.