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Miguel Hernandez Bio

Miguel, con un sombrero mexicano

Mi Nombre (My Name)

Let's get this out of the way, no, my real name is not Miguel Hernandez.  I was named "Miguel" many years ago by my friends during the many surf trips we took, driving down into Baja, Mexico (Ok, it also was due to the massive amounts of tequilla we consumed...)  I quickly learned "Spanglish", acquiring enough spanish vocabulary to flirt with senioritas, order food, beer and margaritas, and occasionally ask for directions.  For whichever reason, the name stuck.  The Hernandez portion is ... well, we all need a last name, so I picked one.  I have been using the name Miguel Hernandez for all my written and musical creative efforts.  It's sort of my alter ego, almost schizophrenic:  Miguel is way more creative than I could ever be.  So what if Miguel is not fluent in spanish and doesn't look Hispanic?  My good friends all call me Miguel, come to think of it, occasionally my mother does too.

 

Miguel @ 14De dónde soy? (Where am I from?)

I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  I grew up in Douglassville, PA.  I went to college at Millersville University near Lancaster, PA (Thank you Delta Sigma Chi, for making me the degenerate that I am!)  Then I moved to Los Angeles California, and have been living there, at the beach, since.

 

Mi Música (My Music)

My mother and father both played the organ when I was growing up, and my father occasionally played the guitar.  My parents and all my siblings can sing, and thankfully, often on key.  So I had a childhood filled with music and lots of singing.  It seems funny to say this, but my mom is an excellent whistler, and I inherited it from her. Once I get a melody in my head I find myself whistling it. So you'll hear lots of whistling tracks in my music. Often, they are an accident, but once I hear the playback, it just makes sense. If nothing else, I hope people will whistle along with my music.

M-Audio Keystation midi keyboardI had organ lessons as a kid and I guess that's where I got my basis for music.  As a teenager, my brother and I were in a band, he played guitar and I sang and played the electric organ and the flute.  In college I took a few piano courses, but now I only play keyboards by ear.  I often use a keyboard to create, refine, or break down a melody.

Eastman FluteWhen I was 14, I got grounded for something stupid I did, and having lots of free time and nothing to do, I picked up my sister's flute and the instruction book and learned how to play it.  In college I bought a flute at a garage sale and have been playing flute ever since.  This year my niece showed interest in the flute, so I gave that flute to her as a gift and bought a new one for myself.  I am probably better on the flute than with any other instrument.

Hohner Chromatic HarmonicaI've been carrying around a harmonica in my car for years, to pass the time while stuck in the southern california traffic.  I learned to play along with the radio and CDs.  That little habit led me to buy a Hohner chromatic harmonica which I use in many of my songs.  I don't use a harmonica holder, and play harmonica while I'm playing guitar.  Maybe some day, but right now it's hard enough for me to sing and play the guitar at the same time.

Takamine GuitarThe guitar - now there's the bane of my musical existence.  I hacked around with my father's guitar when I was a kid but never really learned to play it very well - it always seemed so complicated.  About 6 years ago I decided it was time to learn the guitar.  I took a few lessons but got frustrated with the methods of my teacher - he was trying to teach me how to pick single notes, perhaps to be some sort of lead guitarist, I just wanted to learn chords so I could sing and entertain people. I would often sing songs by myself with no instruments. Taylor 314ce Guitar People just look at you funny, like you're mental (Or perhaps I was just off key without any instrument to guide me?)   But play a guitar and sing, well, that seems to be perfectly acceptable to everyone.  So I reverted to the internet and all the fantastic tabulature websites to get the lyrics and chords for my favorite songs.  It took a lot of practice, but I finally got the knack of playing guitar and singing at the same time.  I still have difficulty covering some songs, but with years of practice and help from some very talented friends, I can now entertain with a few hours of songs.

Fender Viktor Bailey BassMy time with the 6 string acoustic guitar led me to the 4 string bass guitar.  I bought one to give it a try and now I play it nearly every day.  I even use it to write songs now.  Sometimes when I'm jamming with friends and everyone has an acoustic 6 string guitar, I just try to play the bass line.  Many thanks to Andrew Pouska and his awesome website, www.studybass.com, for teaching me the basics for the bass guitar.  After I get a bit better I will likely be searching for a local band where I can sing and play the bass.

DjembeMeinl Cajon BongoI am constantly learning about percussion.  Mainly I've learned that it's a lot harder than I thought it was.  I have learned to always start with some sort of persussion track when recording a song, even if it's something very simple.  There's nothing worse than trying to add percussion to a song that doesn't follow a consistent beat.  Thanks to Apple's GarageBand software, I get to start with their pre-programmed drum loops, and develop something of my own, using a simple old hand made djembe, a very cool Meinl Bongo Cajon, and an assortment of shakers.  My midi keyboard is great for little extras like an occasional triangle or a wood block.  My friends and I often take turns playing one of my drums during jam sessions just to keep it all together.  I'm feeling psychic ... I predict that there is a set of conga drums in my future!

To quote one of my favorite artists, "It's all about them words." (Thank you Jason Mraz)  I have become a wordsmyth during this adventure.  I don't know where they come from, but when they come it's magical.  I get an idea from something that happens to me, I get emotionally charged, and some line comes to me, and I think, "Hey, that would be a good line in a song ...".  Next thing I know, it's 4am, and I'm 5 verses into a story that flows like honey over a hot bun.  I like every song to tell a story, and where possible to rhyme.  The biggest problem is what to throw out.  There always seems to be too many verses, too long of a chorus, or just too many syllables in a line.

Espectáculos Públicos (Public Performances)

I've played for a few small private events, boat parties, back yard barbeques, that sort of thing.  I've been playing with a band, the "Acoustic Warriors", around town for the past year or so, with gigs at On The Rocks (Redondo Beach), Patrick Molloys (Hermosa Beach), Suzy's Bar (Hermosa Beach), Kegs Bar (Redondo Beach), Hermosa Beach Art Festival, Hollywood Riviera Festival, and often at the Coffee Cartel in Redondo Beach.  Last September I played the harmonica as a guest performer with Jared Young at Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach, CA.