I grew up in Ft. Thomas, Kentucky, the son of Dick and Mary Lou Schmidt, two loving and supportive parents and my younger sister Cathie, of whom I am very proud. Growing up in the 1950’s was like a page out of Norman Rockwell, all-American and very idyllic. Looking back it’s difficult to remember a single unhappy day from my childhood. Time was spent riding bikes, playing sports, and exploring the woods behind my house. In fact, I still live in Ft. Thomas today, with my wife Amy and our little rescued dog “Taco”.
Musically, it all started for me when I began taking piano lessons at the age of five. I honestly cannot remember a time in my life when I wasn’t playing music. I continued with classical piano for 7 years, doing the customary piano recitals, as well as playing accompaniments for school plays and operettas (which was great since it got me out of class.) When I was nine, I entered a competition playing a classical piece on “School for Talent” which aired on channel 9. This program showcased young local singers, dancers and musicians. I remember finishing second to a 10-year old girl, who tap-danced dressed as Uncle Sam. In any case, I realized I loved performing to an audience and a “Ham” was born! I also took flute, trombone and drum lessons in grade school and sang solos in the church choir.
I was about to enter The Cincinnati Conservatory of Music when The British Invasion occurred. So I traded in myMozart and Chopin for a Mel Bay Chord book and embarked on a Rock n’ Roll odyssey that has lasted forty years, thus far. I formed a band in the seventh grade called Marc IV (later The Renegades), one member of which was Mike Reilly of Pure Prairie League. At Sixteen, I was playing local Night Clubs, such as the Round Up and Club Birdland on school nights; lying about my age to get into the clubs for the chance to perform. Thank God for those supportive parents!
After graduating from Newport Catholic High School, I went to the University of Kentucky. While there, I played in supper clubs, piano bars and lounges, sometimes as a single and sometimes with a drummer. Three years later, I dropped out of College and started touring, playing Holiday and Ramada Inns, from Syracuse, NY. to Jacksonville FL. and all points in between. Bands during this period ranged from the not quite famous, to the infamous, to the never had a shot at being famous! (“The Seniors”, “Limestone Balcony”, “Horizons” and others). The ten years spent on the road were filled with great and wild times that I would not trade for anything, but enough was enough. I returned home with the objective of finally getting a “real daytime job”. I worked locally in lounges while I finished College and subsequently, Chase Law School.
In 1981, I began a second career as a trial attorney and could no longer play music full time. Occasionally, I sat in with local groups and did the odd Wedding reception or private party with a group called Reunion. This band broke up in 1987, so I stopped performing on a regular basis; although the desire was still there and I played whenever I got the chance.
Fast forward to 2002. Although I still practice law in Ohio and Kentucky, I began to realize how much I missed performing. Enter BlueStone Ivory! What a piece of luck!! I feel very fortunate to be playing with such a great group of talented guys, who enjoy playing the same type of music as I do and have such devotion to their craft. Long Live BlueStone Ivory!! We might still be “Rocking” from our rocking chairs, but at least we’re still younger than the “Rolling Stones”.