How about telling us about who inspired you first and who influenced you later
Thanks for sharing Lin, I enjoyed the recounting of the purchase of the “Guild”. It takes me back to when we tried to borrow money to do something similar in our youth and trying to understand why the banks would only lend money to those who already had it.
I was not born into a musical family. None of my grandparents played instruments or sang, nor did my parents. However, Mom and Dad loved to dance and were “listeners” of good music. By virtue of my Dad having a second job (hobby) in radio and television repair, our home was always equipped with the latest and greatest in hi-fidelity and stereophonic equipment. I was lulled to sleep most every night listening to the latest recordings that were stacked a dozen or so high on the automated record changer.
The variety of music I was exposed to was endless, if not amazing for a middle class child from Indiana: Count Basie, the Dorsey Brothers, all the “big bands” and big band singers, Patti Page, Doris Day, Andy Williams, Nat King Cole, The Ink Spots, Chet Atkins, Ray Charles, and Pearl Bailey, to name just a few. My first introduction to Bluegrass came via the “Darlings” (Dillards) on The Andy Griffith Show and Country came to me by way of The Grand Ole Opry, a local show called Mid-Western Hayride, and Hee Haw.
My parents purchased a piano when I was still quite young – probably just before, or just as I started to kindergarten. This was not because I had indicated any interest in becoming the next Mozart, but rather, because my parents were determined to make sure that I had the opportunity. The piano was my first chance to exercise any musical talent I might possess. And, although I took lessons from the age of five through high school, off and on (more off than on), I never mastered the keyboard. However, it proved to be the foundation upon which my musical knowledge and passion would grow.
I’m not sure which came first, The Beatles or my first guitar. Suffice it to say both appeared in my life circa 1964. My first guitar was a steel string Yamaha for which my parents paid about $69.95. Unlike the piano, I had no formal lessons. I taught myself from books and with help from the father of one of my friends (who happened to be a left-handed player). My first songs were traditional folk tunes like “Red River Valley” and “Molly Malone” (which I played and sang on stage for a sixth grade variety show).
In Junior High I was recruited by the band director to play the trombone. The trombone was not the instrument of my choice. I wanted to play the drums. But, the band already had two dozen drummers and was in desperate need of trombonists, so I was coerced into answering the call. From there I worked my way up to first chair trombone and became the band president by the time I was a senior in high-school.
After high-school and some collage, I entered the corporate world of banking and finance. However, at night I began moonlighting with a bar band that went by the name of “Fantasia” (after the Walt Disney film of the same name). We played Moose Lodges, rural bars, and little known dinner houses. Our repertoire consisted of early 1970’s folk rock and a 1950’s set for which we dressed the part.
In my mind, being a member of a bar band qualified me as having a “professional” music career. And, I used that thinking as justification to purchase my first “real” guitar. Upon visiting Indianapolis’ local “fine instrument” establishment, I walked out with a brand new Guild D-44 and a $500 debt at 35% interest! My Guild, nicknamed “Blondie,” has accompanied me through life (though ignored for many years) since the day I proudly carried her home in 1974.
A personal tragedy in 1977 sent me running away to the West Coast. As I began to concentrate more on a “real” career, I spent less and less time with “Blondie.” By the time Craig and I met and married, she had become nothing more than excess baggage that I continued to drag with me from one home to the next. When our daughter became pregnant with our 1st grandchild, I was inspired to pull “Blondie” out of the closet. I was ashamed at how I had neglected her, and I took her to a respected luthier for repairs and refurbishment.
As I began to reconnect with my music, I also began to reconcile my past, present, and future. I began thinking how wonderful it would be to play for my grandchildren and teach them songs that were a part of my life when I was growing up. I found that playing and singing helped relieve the stress associated with working in a corporate world that did not share my values. I also began considering what my “mission” would be once I retired, and thought about how I might share my music with those in retirement homes or hospitals. It became clear to me that my passion and enthusiasm far exceeded my talent. It also became evident that, in order to “grow” my talent, I needed training from a professional and encouragement from other musicians.
As I write these words, it has been almost two years since I began taking lessons from Danny Gotham. Through my association with him I met all of you — for that, I am very thankful.
I’ll go first. I was raised in North Wales, my father is Welsh and my mother is from Liverpool. My father’s family all spoke Welsh and were mostly raised on farms. Music is very important to the Welsh and has a high ranking in education and in the local Chapels of course. The Welsh have a reputation for singing (always in harmony), harp playing and rugby. Choir competitions are held continuously and I was in the school choir. Later, at high school, I received my first lessons as a cello player in the regional school orchestra.
My first recollection of being very impressed by recorded music was hearing Sergei Rachmaninov’s piano concertos, Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade” and Ravel’s “Bolero” and “Capriccio Italien” at the age of 8 or 9. My parents did not own a record player and I heard the record at a relative’s house in Liverpool back sometime in 1958.
My interest led to my having classical piano lessons (My mother insisted on the best tutor available) and taking music exams at high school and privately with “The Royal Schools of Music” which many piano students did in the UK. Chopin, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Clementi, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Debussy, Ravel and many others were common fare in those days.
Later, I heard the Dave Brubeck Quartet playing Time Further Out (odd time signatures) and later still George Gershwin. Both of these artists blew me away which resulted in a long term interest in jazz. My mother would generally sing from the “Golden Oldies” (standards in jazz) most of the day so that helped my musical education also.
Of course the Beatles hit in the 60’s so we all tried to emulate them and sang their songs all the time as well as others like The Who, The Animals, Bob Dylan, YES and my big hero – Jimi Hendrix.
Later I was inspired by the violin concertos of Brahms and Bruch (Violin concerto #1 played by Kyung Wha Chung) see her play the amazing 3rd movement here:
University, marriage and three children caused a relative drought in musical interests for quite a while but when things got less hectic my wife agreed that we should buy a piano. Later, for my 50 birthday, she bought me a grand piano all of my own (Wow!).
In the jazz world I listen to Ella Fitzgerald, Blossom Dearie, Coltrane, Bud Powell, Duke Ellington, Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Young, Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Jelly Roll Morton, Michel Petrucciani, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Carol Welsman, Diana Krall, Chick Corea, Jessica Williams, Chris Botti, Pat Metheny, Lee Ritenour and on and on..love them all.
North Carolina has presented even more musical delights and now I plan to try and improve my guitar skills after a great start at PicknBow. I take an interest in songwriting and I play with The Tubby Ridge Band and Black Dog Syndrome.
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