I began studying with Dennis Sandole when I was nineteen. I had no previous guitar training, so beginning with him was a shock and a steep learning curve. Dennis was interested in developing your "aesthetic potential". At nineteen, that didn't mean much to me, but that was the guiding motivation behind all of his efforts with me. After about six years with him, I began to discover what I believe was/is my "voice". It was there all along, but I didn't really "believe" in it. Dennis did, and I see now that all of the lessons and talking were about finding and nurturing that very delicate "aesthetic potential".
Without his tutelage, and personal encouragement, I would not have found my little aesthetic territory. Dennis always said that I would have found it, but it would have taken longer. Maybe he was right about the former, definitely about the latter. If one is lucky in life, one finds someone to help them discover things that lie deep in the background. Dennis was a beautiful soul who did this for me, and many others, in the most masterful way imaginable.
George and I met in the early 1980's while we were both studying with Dennis Sandole in Philadelphia. George was playing six nights a week in Atlantic City and starting a family. As I began to get into composing and the tapping guitar stuff, he became interested in what I was doing. I would send him recordings, and he would actually listen and respond in the most insightful ways. We became "phone buddies", and I discovered a warm, supportive, and highly intelligent guy. Again, if one is lucky, you meet such people and if you're truly lucky, they become friends. George and his family moved to Minneapolis in 1993, and George began a string of day jobs using his computer skills. He still played weekend gigs, but it was obvious to him that playing for a living was not going to support a family, and he was too intelligent to be able to live in the gigging musician universe exclusively.
Around 1998, George learned that he had esophageal cancer. Surgery and radiation followed. He appeared to be doing very well, but just before the five-year line, the cancer returned. George died on May 26, 2003. He was 50. Whenever we talked about money, whether it was the price of some equipment, or the dough for a gig, he'd finish by saying "that's a lotta dust…" So that's the origin of the title for this music. It's a requiem of sorts, and that's the most obvious meaning. But I thought that his little saying was hilarious, and that's the real reason for the title.
In 1995, I began looking for local musicians to play informally. I was busy playing a million weddings and Bar Mitzvahs in and around Philadelphia, and a little musical relief from that scene seemed like a good idea. Dan answered my ad, and we found a common interest in the Allman Brothers Band. We played together just the two of us for a while. I played guitar, and he played bass. He was a machinist from Levittown, PA, and had all of those working-class qualities one might expect: the truck, the bass stuff, and the beer. Dude loved beer and would show up with the most obscure microbrews in the whole world. But he was very sensitive and extremely intelligent.
Once again, if one is lucky…Eventually, we ended up doing a weekly jam at a warehouse-turned-rehearsal-space in Tullytown PA. It was loud, and it was fun. A lot of different characters came through the door each week. Dan died very suddenly of a heart attack on September 8, 2002. He was 42. This was a real shock to me and my little family. My kids were young and really liked "Uncle Dan". And my wife used to enjoy the beer drops. Once when she was hesitating about whether or not to try a new brew, he burst forth with, "come on mom bust a move"! This ruined everyone for a few minutes. He always said, "you're always only two beers away from a good day".