A guitar player since the age of ten, Al first began performing publicly in the bars and cafes of Austin, Texas. After a while he moved on out to Los Angeles, California where he supplied music for radio commercials and corporate shows while also appearing on television in commercials for Budweiser and Bud Light.
While studying with conceptual artist John Baldessari at California Institute of the Arts, Al began experimenting with portable video equipment. He became a music video pioneer. His original songs about art, love and life were the soundtracks for his videos.
Al’s early music videos are now collected and exhibited by major art museums including The Getty and MOMA as well as by private collectors. They are some of the very first music videos ever made. You can read more about Al’s video art in the book California Video: Artists and Histories by Glen Phillips.
In 1979, Westwood Music owner, Fred Walecki, introduced Al to Ramblin’ Jack Elliott one Sunday afternoon while they were flying model airplanes in the San Fernando valley. Jack, just returning from Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Tour, needed a place to stay and so he camped at Al’s bunkhouse in Venice Beach for a while. Jack’s first hand accounts were Al’s introduction to Woody Guthrie and his rich musical legacy.
Not long afterwards Al made a decision to get out of the advertising business and do some ramblin’, and guitar pickin’, and grinnin’ of his own. He hit the hot dusty road like Woody, Jack and others before him. Ramblin’ Jack and Woody lived their songs. Al has lived his songs too. You can hear it in his music!
After nearly forty years of ramblin’, pickin’ and grinnin’ Al continues to keep the good old songs alive. He also sings one of his own songs now and then. Presently he writes and records his music in his Santa Fe, New Mexico home––a small pueblo style casita filled with guitars and surrounded by tall pines and fruit trees filled with birdsong.
Al’s agile fingerstyle guitar playing and his rich bass-baritone voice compliment each other perfectly. His wry and sometimes corny humor provides an upbeat counterpoint to the mournful mountain ballads and acoustic blues that he performs. Although Al refers to himself deprecatingly as “the least known folk singer,” he is becoming pretty well known.