Marvin Kane

Marvin Kane

Playing an outdoor concert in Holland c. 1971

I was born in Brooklyn, New York on October 18, 1949. Music, in one form or another, was a part of my life since I can remember. Sometime around age 10 it was discovered that I had a pleasant singing voice. Singing was, and still is, a defining characteristic of me.  One summer night, at around age 14, I had an epiphany that determined the course of my life. Sitting on a park bench was a young guy, maybe two or three years older than me, playing a guitar and singing. He was surrounded by giggling girls all staring at him longingly. I knew what I was going to do next.

Clapton and Hendrix

The Orange Gretsch Country Gentleman

The Orange Gretsch Country Gentleman. I saw George Harrison playing it. That was good enough for me.

After noodling around on a cheap acoustic guitar for a while, I convinced my parents (how did I ever do that) to buy me my first electric guitar. It was an orange Gretsch Country Gentleman. The only thing I knew about this guitar was that I had seen George Harrison playing it. Good enough for me.  I spent endless hours (mostly in vain) trying to copy George Harrison licks. At the same time I started playing in my first band, The Madabouts. Life was good. But the adoring girls were still not flocking around me. I was disenchanted. A friend invited me to join him at a Greenwich Village nightclub to see a new English band that was gaining some notoriety. There were only three of them. I’d never heard of a rock band with only three musicians. I was skeptical but interested enough to check it out. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw and heard. In a space no larger than my living room, I found myself sitting 3 feet in front of Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton – Cream! Then I understood how powerful a 3 piece rock band could be. But wait. There’s more. Shortly after this first mind blowing experience the same friend (some friend huh?) invited me to join him again at a concert at New York’s Hunter College. “If you thought that 3 piece band was amazing, wait till you hear this one” he said.  Jimmi Hendrix. My fate was sealed. I was going to be a guitarist. End of story.

Missed Opportunity

Woodstock

The Original Woodstock Music & Art Fair Poster

To supplement my meager musician’s income, I began working summers at a Carvel ice cream store in Greenwich Village. The money wasn’t great but being at the epicenter of the 60’s music scene was payment enough. Early in the summer of 1969 a buzz began about an upcoming outdoor rock concert in some obscure upstate New York town. I didn’t pay much attention. By the end of July a man had walked on the moon. What else could make history that summer I wondered. So when some friends urged me to tag along with them on the 100 mile drive to someplace called White Lake, I declined. Besides, I had to work and it was going to rain all weekend anyway. So while I spent the weekend of August 15, 1969 serving milk shakes and ice cream cones to shutter snapping tourists, my friends, along with half a million others, made history at Woodstock.

Back to School

Me at Berklee College of Music

Me playing my Gibson archtop Super 400 guitar with the Berklee Count Basie Orchestra c. 1975. Wish I had that guitar now.

The next phase of my life is pretty well covered in The Sweet Smoke Story. When the band broke up for good, I left Europe and settled in Boston to attend Berklee College of Music which I did from 1974 to 1978. While there I continued to work in local Top 40 bands. Most importantly though, I learned the mechanics and language of music, something that I had been yearning to do. I came to love the music of the great American composers and developed a deep admiration for that most American of music forms – jazz. I continued to actively play with general business bands (weddings, functions, etc.) throughout the 80’s and 90’s and between 1984 and 1995 was a house band leader at one of Boston’s popular banquet facilities.

Me doing stand up

Doing stand up at Boston’s Stitches Comedy Club c. 1988

Sometime around 1988, at the urging of several close friends, I tried my hand at stand up comedy. Comedy was huge in Boston at the time and there was no shortage of venues to get my feet wet. I did pretty well at it finishing my short career as a finalist in the 1989 WBCN Radio Comedy Riot. I could have kept going but I guess I was just trying to prove to myself that I could do it. If nothing else, I certainly learned how to deal with fear. As far as music goes, I still play but not as much as I’d like to.

These Days

In 1995, as part of a temporary work assignment, I was asked by my company to learn about a new fad that was gaining ground – the Internet. Thus began a journey I am still on. In 2005 I founded and still run Kaneworks, Inc., a small web design and production company serving the needs of small to mid size companies. Additionally, I help companies and individuals navigate the confusing waters of social media.

You can follow me at these familiar sites:

Marvin Kane

At a recent gathering of Sweet Smoke in Doylestown, PA