Early California Video
In the early 1970s, while studying with the artist John Baldessari at California Institute of the Arts, Al began experimenting with portable video equipment. He kinda accidentally became a music video pioneer. His songs about art, love and life became the soundtracks for his videos. Al’s early videos can be found at The Getty in Los Angeles, MOMA in NY, and in collections.
The videos precede MTV by several years and they are considered some of the very first music videos. You can read more about Al’s video work in the book California Video: Artists and Histories by Glen Phillips and published by The Getty.
Folk songs and hot dusty roads
Then in 1979, Al met the legendary Ramblin’ Jack Elliott one Sunday afternoon while flying model airplanes in the San Fernando Valley. Jack had recently returned to L.A. after BobDylan’s Rolling Thunder Tour and he needed a place to stay so he camped at Al’s bunkhouse in Venice Beach for a few weeks. During his stay Jack introduced Al to the writings of Woody Guthrie and to Woody’s rich musical legacy. Thanks Jack!
Not long after that Al decided to get out of Shakeytown and do some ramblin’, and some pickin’, and some grinnin’ of his own. He hit the hot dusty road walking in the footsteps of Woody and Jack. Ramblin’ Jack and Woody lived their songs. Al has lived his songs too. You can hear it!
Life in the slow lane
Al eventually rambled his way to Santa Fe, New Mexico where he has lived for 33 years. He resides in a 1952 pueblo style casita filled with guitars and surrounded by tall pines along with apricot, apple, plum and crabapple trees. His adept fingerstyle guitar playing and his rich, pleasant bass-baritone voice compliment each other perfectly. His stories (mostly true) and jokes (pretty funny) provide an upbeat counterpoint to the hillbilly ballads and the Texas and Piedmont style acoustic blues that he still loves to play.
These days Al continues to keep the good old songs alive while now and then writing some fine songs of own. He’s working on new recordings in his home studio during the pandemic. Check back the streaming music on this website once in a while and you’ll find some new recordings pretty soon.