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The Shards, Up Close and Exposed !!!




What is your role with The Shards?

Every rock band not only needs a good lead guitarist, they also need someone they can kick around, once in a while, to let out their angst. Fortunately, I provide both professional services for the band (and I don’t even charge them for the therapy). I also dabble in song arrangements, band schedules, administering the web site, I am the band historian, and I generally push the moral envelop of the band, as exemplified by all the Shirley Temples I drink at our gigs. Hell, I may soon move up to the hard stuff: Cran & Soda!

Where are you from?

I grew up in Kearny, NJ, which is warmly nestled between scenic Newark and Jersey City. Lived on Manhattan’s Upper East Side for 5 years before settling into my Spring Garden estate in Nutley (named after all the chestnut trees, not the politicians).

How long have you been playing guitar, and what other instruments can you play?

Started playing cardboard drums when I was 5 (I guess my folks shopped in the same store as Tim’s), took private lessons until I was 12. Started my first band in 5th grade. Got fed up looking for a good guitarist, so I switched to guitar when I was in high school (1970-ish). Played in rock bands, country bands, jazz bands, symphony orchestras (OK, I played tympani in the orchestras, not guitar).

Who are your musical influences?

The standards: Beatles, Floyd (Pink, not Uncle), Clapton, Hendrix, Santana, van Halen, Satch, Townshend, Wes and Les…but also a few non-standards like Andres Segovia, Tony Mottola, Nuno Bettencourt, Mick Abrams, and Nick Jameson.

Who is your favorite guitarist

Robert Fripp and Eddie van Halen are tied for first place because they have that unique talent of being tasteful artists AND extraordinary technical masters (very hard to find both in the same package).


John Entwistle, Stu Hamm


Gerry Mulligan (tenor), Paul Desmond (alto), and definitely my son PF-III (uber-alto)


Glenn Gould (I love hearing him hum in the background as he plays!), Lee Michaels, Rick Wakeman


John Bonham, hands down…although Gene Krupa held the #1 position for many years before John came along. After John died, I stopped rating drummers.


Cello? Anybody there? Actually, my favorite cellist is Suzanne Gronemeyer.


Itzhak Perlman & David LaFlamme (I was going to say Isaac Stern, but it’s my turn to piss Gary off).


Mary McCrink, Ol’ Blue Eyes, Martina McBride, Susan Ashton, Bobby Darin, James Dean Bradfield (and most Welsh singers), Nat King Cole, and my all time favorite, Scandal’s Patty Smyth (Patty, you shoulda taken vanHalen’s offer when you had the chance!).

Who is your least favorite guitarist?

Jack White & Edge (ugh!)


Charlie Watts (but I love the Stones), also Phil Collins & Don Henley (great songwriters but ho hum musicians)


Billy Joel (belongs in a circus band)


Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen (he IS in a circus band), Michael Jackson...and they ALL still belong in diapers.

What’s currently in your CD player?

The Three Tenors (thanks to my wife)

...mp3 player?

Hot for Teacher (thanks to The Shards)

If you were stuck on a desert island and could bring 6 CD’s what would they be?

• Abbey Road (for the vocals)
• Dark Side of the Moon (for the mood)
• Alan Jackson’s Who I Am (tied with Vince Gill & Friends)
• Susan Ashton’s Summer Solstice (there’s just sumthin about her voice...)
• The Ultimate Bobby Darin (tied with The Very Best of Harry Bellafonte)
• Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite (tied with Holst’s The Planets)

What type of gear do you use?

• Guitars: All left-handed. custom Carvin CM140 (I prefer a .009 string set with VERY low action), Fender DCE10 acoustic, Takamine EAN40C with CT-4B preamp, Yamaha 12-string acoustic, Hagstrom & Yamaha basses, Orville (by Gibson) Les Paul Custom. I file my own frets...and cut my own hair.

• Amps: Depending on the gig, a Pignose G60VR 60 watt w/ Celestion Vintage (main choice), Fender Bandmaster Reverb 30 watt or Fender Studio 200 watt w/ Celestion half-stack (when we play Giants Stadium or The Coliseum). Hartke VX3500 combo bass amp.

• FX: Alesis Quadraverb-2 with Sony HR-RC5 MIDI pedal. Various wahs and Digitech doodads.

• PA: Mackie SRM450 cabs, SWA1501 subs, 1604-VLZ Pro board. Also hobby around with Roland TD-7 digital drums and General Music GPS2500 keyboard (in a Baldwin mini-grand cab).

What’s your favorite piece of gear? (or most useful etc).

The Carvin, by a long shot. A very broad range of sound, plus the longest sustain, most accurate intonation and lowest action on the planet. But I have to give the Takamine 12-string the prize for a VERY close second place!

What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you while playing before a live audience?

We were hired to play at a private party, and only after we got on stage did we realize that everyone one in the audience was 40 years older than us. We turned the gig into something like Paul Anka’s “Rock Swings”! The audience loved it. We laughed our asses off.

What do you like to do besides play music?

Climb pyramids, canoe down rapids, drive through the desert, bake hard-crusted bread (I love the crackle when it comes out of the oven), watch an action packed sci-fi flick with billion dollar FX, work hard to earn a living.

What do you love to do most?

Go to some exotic place with my family.

What do you like to do least?

Get stuck in traffic. It’s the only time I get claustrophobic!

What’s your favorite color?

Green, totally.

What is your favorite food?

Sushi, baybay!

Describe the perfect gig.

Full house, standing ovation, call for encore!

What do you like most about playing with The Shards

The Shards are the most talented musicians I ever teamed up with in my 40+ years of playing in bands. We know enough about music at this point in our lives that we can do pretty much anything we want and it sounds great (but then again, my hearing is for shit these days). Hey, SOMEONE had to answer that one seriously!

James Lipton Questions...

What is your favorite word?


What is your least favorite word?

“Power”; power ties, power words, power chords, power nap, power drink; jeez, give me a power friggin’ break!

What turns you on or what is your favorite thing?

Charting the uncharted.

What turns you off?

A bad smell.

What sound or noise do you love?

Ocean waves, thunder, and white noise like wind blowing through the trees or a running brook.

What sound or noise do you hate?

A baby crying (I feel its pain!)

What is your favorite curse word?

“Hogwash” in that’s a loada ...

What professions (other than music) would you like to attempt?

Private investigator, TV actor, brain surgeon (wait, I’ve already done that one!).

What profession would you not like to do?

Diamond miner in Johannesburg, executioner, crash dummy...

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive?

"Hey, what on Earth took you so long? Come on in, we just made some fresh coffee! Cream, no sugar, right?"

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