I played my first professional (paid) gig on trombone in the 8th grade. As a high school freshman I formed a 5-piece combo and started composing and writing arrangements. I worked all thru high school on weekends playing trombone with many fine musicians in the area casinos. After graduating I attended the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and Fine Arts for six months before entering the Air Force. There I was assigned to the 515th AF Band and was selected as one of two arrangers to score concert music for the 14 bands in FLYTAF. During my service period I also taught myself to play the piano. As a journalism major at the University of Montana I formed a six-piece progressive jazz group called "The Combo" which included the best jazz musicians from the music school. Later, after seeing some Nevada lounge groups I started "Audrey and the Beachcombers" which was renamed "The Solitudes" when we went on the road after graduation. We worked in lounges and casinos in all the western states and Alaska. There were other groups in the '60s as cohorts came and went. In 1964 my wife, Carrie, and I worked as a duo, booking through Celebrities, Inc., of Studio City. In 1970 we added Tom Burroughs forming the trio, Tom, Rod & Carrie, that had a long succesful run for several years. In the '70s we worked with our kids on the road as The Fishers. Since moving back to our hometown, Whitefish, in 1984, I found continuous weekend gigging with the Company Brass at the Bigfork Inn for three years and at the piano bar in Marina Cay on Flathead Lake for nine years. More recently I've enjoyed being the evening entertainment during the summer on the patio
of Acqua Pazza in Lakesid
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