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  • Writer's pictureDavid Ullman

FAMILY ALBUM Backstory Part 3: Growing Pains

The year 2000 was a pivotal period for the younger pair of Ullman Brothers. Brian was in high school, playing in two rock bands, and getting into home recording. In keeping with the fraternal framework laid out by The Bushmen in the 1960s, both of Brian's groups had at their cores a pair of brothers on drums and guitar. In Paradigm the Yoyo Crusade (which was an evolution of Enormity with a new singer), it was Matt and Mike Socrates, and in Circle Of Willis —the new band for which Brian was writing and singing—Zack and Cody Kelly, respectively. I was unwittingly breaking this tradition by being in a band in which no one was related, a folk/pop/didgeridoo quintet called STEVE. The STEVE saga is recounted elsewhere on my website, but it is relevant to The Ullman Boys' backstory in that Brian produced our album, In The Event Of Rhythm—the third CD he had a hand in creating that year.

Recording "Pilgrimaté" scene from the FINDING RHYTHM documentary.

In the above video expert from the previously mentioned, feature-length STEVE: Finding RHYTHM documentary, you can see a 17-year-old Brian talking about how he came to be involved in the recording, as well as watch him surprise our friend Jackson with an Ebow guitar approach to achieving the cello-like sound he was craving for the song.

Brian was no longer pretending to be a record producer, repeating, "cut! Try it again," for our home video La Bamba remakes. Though he had yet to graduate high school, Brian had already spent time in multiple professional recording situations with his bands and was developing a remarkable ear and musical acumen as both a player and audio engineer.

Unfortunately, the tumultuous transition from teenagers to twenty-somethings that brought an end to The Bushmen decades before also delivered a series of challenging disappointments to me and Brian as well. By the age of twenty, Brian's bands had all broken up, and he had returned home to Rittman after a short-lived stint at Ashland University—the same school our Dad attended until on April 6th, 1970, when as a starting shortstop covering second base, a runner slid into his leg wearing metal cleats, all but ending his promising baseball career. To hear him tell it, Dad limped around and still managed to play for Malone University in Canton a couple of years later, but it was never the same. By the end of 2003, I was six months married and poised to major in film studies at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. I'd been living in Raleigh, North Carolina with my fiancée for a few years, working at both a gas station/convenience store and UPS, all the while making notes for new songs when, in a shocking and heartbreaking turn of events, the life I was building there quickly fell apart, and I soon found myself limping back to Rittman to live in the family basement.

During this difficult time, both Brian and I immersed ourselves in music. Brian began pouring his creative energies into a recording project called Four Degrees North and running live sound for the Voodoo Night Club in Akron. I decided to process my divorce by making a record also. Dad cashed in an old life insurance policy he had taken out in my name through his job, and he gave it to me when I moved back home to regroup. He and I took the lump sum payout to the Guitar Center in Fairlawn, bought a Hawaiian Koa wood Martin DXK2 Dreadnought full-bodied acoustic guitar, and a Lexicon Omega Digital Recording Workstation. I ordered an ADK A-51/SC-1 Studio Twin microphone set online, cleaned out the basement, hunkered down, and began writing and recording the songs that would become my debut album, Dog Days.

"Martin DXK2" short film I made about the guitar that changed my life.


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