I was born in the spring of 1980 in the capital of the smallest state in the union, Providence, Rhode Island.   My memories of Providence are thin but are constructed mainly of old aunts living in the Italian section of town known as Federal Hill, sharing long tables with strangers at Angelo's restaurant, and big family parties that seemed to happen every weekend.  The most vivid memories I have are the sounds of music coming from my mother Joanne Lurgio that seemed to always fill the air.  She sang and wrote songs late into the evenings.  I can easily close my eyes and hear her foot tapping time on the kitchen floor as I would fall asleep.  She sang in the car, led the congregation at church weddings & funerals, entertained in many of the local theater group productions, and sang to me every morning to wake me up. Being a single mother I was her sidekick or tag along wherever she went.  I can still recall how proud it would make me feel when she let me carry her guitar from the car into a gig. Without intention she surrounded my young life in music.  

The soundtrack my mother provided consisted mainly of James Taylor, Peter Paul & Mary, Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac and Elton John, what many children of the 80's were raised hearing.  In the background there was always the melodically triumphant sounds that we heard and sang at Catholic mass every weekend and the popular Italian American songs sang at family parties  (songs like "Ave Maria", "Eh, Cumpari" and "That's Amore" would always be sung after a couple glasses of wine were drank).  My hands were busy on cello, guitar and drums as child.  I had the lead cello section in many elementary school holiday concerts.   I think I was given my first guitar (in the pic below) to keep me from breaking my mom's!

But somewhere around 1986 I clearly remember being in a truck with my uncle, Don Lurgio, and hearing music that sounded like an old man slurring words while stomping on the floor and I loved it. I wanted to know every word that was being sung. As he drove that pick up with a hole in the floor providing a view of the passing pavement he translated every word to me.
That music was the legendary Robert Johnson and Bob Dylan.  Family parties looked a little like this

From that day forward I was in my uncles musical vortex trying to absorb everything he listened to. This was no easy task. As radio stations were switching to more modern formats of recorded music he was buying boxes and boxes of discarded records with DJ notes on them.  Dilligently, over the years I amassed stacks and stacks of cassettes with as much of his music as I could record.  We traveled to concerts, weekend festivals and jams all around New England together.   Somewhere in the early 1990's my uncle introduced me to another artist that I didn't quite understand at first listen, Bill Monroe.  As a young teen the poor recording quality and unfamiliar piercing harmonies seemed very foreign.   Thus began a long relationship with bluegrass music.   

My first mandolin purchase came at a bluegrass jam in Westport, MA when I was about 14.  At the end of the jam one of the guys came from his car holding up a tear drop mandolin loudly yelling "mandolin for sale, $40".  At the urging of my uncle I jumped at the opportunity to buy it.  In retrospect my uncle was most likely looking to diversify the family jam instrumentation, but it became my new best friend, travelling everywhere I went.   Looking back the mandolin seemed to make sense to me.  It felt like a small guitar neck in my hands and could be heard on classical recordings, in Italian American music, on Rod Steward records and just happened also be one of the constants in the bluegrass instrumentation.  

I decided to go to school in rural Vermont where I could spend time studying trees, wildlife and further explore acoustic music.  I wasn't alone.  There were lots of other people who went there to do the same thing but all had there own diverse paths leading there and we all spent lots of time sharing and crossing our paths.  Simultaneously someone happened to invent the internet and opened all of our ears/eyes to vast musical resources never accessible before.   This was an amazing experience of people sharing lots of songs and ideas.  There were people with drawers and drawers of live Phish concerts, girls who sang Indigo Girls in the verby stairwells with bottles of wine late into the nights, Frank Zappa heads and of course bluegrass aficionados my age that I never found in Rhode Island.  I still miss those people and those short four years of time. 

After college, I spent some years working as an environmental scientist by day and continuing to craft a music career in the evenings.   For a few years I stayed in Vermont at the end of a long dirt road.  For two weeks in the spring these roads became a 3-4' deep slop of mud and there was no possibility of driving on them.   It was hard to leave, but in 2004 I answered an urban urge and moved to the greater Boston area.  In Boston, the acoustic music scene was vibrant and the large network of acoustic musicians made me feel at home.  Gathering spots like the Cantab Lounge, Club Passim and the sporadic apartment parties throughout town were filled with great music and people.   Festivals like Greyfox and Joe Val became a second home to many of us.  It was also in the Boston area that I studied mandolin with the late John McGann.  John's instilled in me both an assiduous and zen like approach to music. 

After years of trying to balance the day job with music, music finally toppled the day job and I moved to Nashville in the spring of 2013. I took a job at the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) in Nashville, TN as Director of Membership and Convention.   In 2015, I stepped away from the IBMA to begin my own company, TenBrooks Media, consulting to many facets of the music industry.