Cover Story: This Magic Moment

CityBeat asks local male musicians about what got them hooked on sonics

Jun 14, 2001 at 2:06 pm
Ricky Nye

Asking musicians to pinpoint the moment they decided to become a musicians can be a "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?" type of question. Or it might be more like, "What were the names of all of your third grade classmates?" Some people remember the moment vividly; others can only muster a hazy, vague recollection.

While obviously somewhat hard to point to one exact moment in one's upbringing that made the musician's life seem like a good one, there is usually something seminal that makes people pursue their passions. My desire to become a music writer was sparked by an almost annoying habit I had growing up where I'd buy all of the latest music magazines and then rush to be the first one to spread the latest news to all of my pals.

For a musician, it can be an album, a concert, a relative or a movement that ignited that flame. Or maybe it was just a chance to meet chicks.

We asked several local musicians to tell us what sparked their fuse and led them into a life of music.

"There is no one moment that did it for me. It was probably the culmination of many Saturday nights over 20 years ago spent with my grandpa, Ned Turner, watching Hee-Haw. I saw how much fun music could be and how it could express so many different emotions.

I also saw how musicians dressed really cool and pretty women wearing very short pants liked to hang around them. I've been hooked ever since."

— Rob Ervin, singer/guitarist for rootsy rockers Monkey Biscuit, who are expecting a new album out in September. Visit their Web site at

"I believe music is in my blood and in my spirit, so I was destined to have music as a key part of my life. My father, however, was my springboard for inspiration: I saw him sing solos in church when I was 3 years old. That's when I started performing, singing in church. I knew I wanted to do Hip Hop when I heard Run DMC on WAIF (88.3 FM) around 1985. I knew what kind of Hip Hop I wanted to do when I was introduced to Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions. There hasn't been a solitary moment of inspiration. Instead, the inspiration has been constant in realizing the changes I can make, as I noticed the growth that others have fostered in me."

— Napoleon Maddox, frontman for jazzy Hip Hop/spoken word trio Iswhat?!. The group is starting a brief East Coast tour in mid-June, returning to Cincinnati on June 20 at Top Cat's. Check their Web site at for more info and dates.

"When I was 14, I played the saxophone in the Walnut Hills High School band. One day I heard one of the older students playing what sounded like an improvised Jazz melody while he or she warmed up (I couldn't see who it was). I was inspired. The rest of the world faded away from me, and I immediately grabbed my sax and for a fleeting moment, I played my own music. Not long after that I traded my sax for a guitar and started to write and sing my own Pop/Rock songs."

— Rob Hamrick of Alt Pop/Rock trio Tonefarmer. Check out the band's Web site at

"I knew I was gonna play when I was 5 years old. My uncles and my dad had a trio that played parties and receptions, and my mom took me to see them rehearse one Friday night, a memory forever burned in my brain. I was totally mesmerized by their smooth and beautiful sound and knew right then that music was the thing for me!"

Ricky Nye is a local N'awlins-style boogie pianist. His latest project is a CD featuring highlights from the "Blues and Boogie Piano Summit" concert he organized with various like-minded keyboardists. For more info, check

"I can remember very well on my fourth birthday, going to Rink's Bargain City in Hamilton with my mom and dad and them buying me a small Stella acoustic guitar. I had seen the guitar on earlier trips to the store, and I was really in love with it's look — with it's painted-on woodgrain/sunburst finish and dyed-to-look-like-ebony fretboard. Even though my folks wanted me to take piano lessons, which I started the following year, they were willing to get me that guitar. I can't say I knew then 'that was the moment I ,' but looking back on it, I think it was."

— Sonny Moorman, leader of the Blues band The Sonny Moorman Group. Moorman's latest CD is By Request 2. He has a Web site at