Hal Stern has been playing music since 1969, having started on piano and then moving on to clarinet in 4th grade and saxophone in high school. While playing in the Freehold Township High School marching band, musical pit bands, wind ensemble, jazz band, and various NJ honor bands, Hal still developed a love of classic rock, progressive rock, jazz, blues, punk and just about everything in between. College saw him trade in the clarinet and saxophone for the DJ's turntables, where Hal hosted a morning jazz show and occasional punk rock segments on WPRB-FM, and spent far too many hours (when he should have been studying) immersed in the stacks, reading liner notes and discovering musical connections that he wishes would help him land a spot on Jeopardy! Hal has always loved live music, production and sound engineering, an expensive habit that started with producing commercials and on-air promotions at the radio station. His musical adventures have included nearly 30 Phish shows (in five states), having Pat Metheny bassist Mark Eagan drop in on one of his jazz shows, taking his (then) 4 year old son to a Rush show (starting 20 years of father-son touring), an executive producer credit on the Flux Forteana EP, and helping start the Reviver Records label.
After 40 years of wanting to learn to do more than hold a guitar to look cool (didn't work), Hal enrolled at So.I.Heard in January 2015 with his Fender Bass and fuzzy memories of music theory. He learned the bass part to the Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane" in his first lesson and years of musical memories came flooding back. His favorite musicians include Rush, Yes, Genesis, Phish, Renaissance, Steely Dan, Coheed & Cambria, Jaco Pastorious, Pat Metheny, Tower of Power, Sonny Stitt, Charlie Parker, King Crimson, the Allman Brothers Band, Animals as Leaders, the J.Geils Band, Lou Reed, the Who, Led Zeppelin, and some bands whose members are mostly still alive. He counts among his bass playing influences Chris Squire, Geddy Lee, Jon Camp, Tony Levin, Mike Gordon, Rocco Prestia, and Michael Robert Todd.
When he's not at the studio or remembering to practice, Hal works as a technology executive for a pharmaceutical company, coaches the New Jersey Devils Youth Hockey club U8 teams, enjoys traveling, food, photography, poker and concert-going. He has two adult children and has been married to his very patient and understanding wife Toby for nearly 30 years.