I was 11 years old on summer break when I first picked up the guitar. It was in our basement, and my older brother left his guitar, and the chord charts to “Closing Time” by the band Semi-Sonic out. He got the guitar for christmas that year from his god-mother, who at that time was dating a guy who co-owned a music store. I don’t remember the brand of the guitar, but it was an orange and black sunburst, off-brand Stratocaster copy.
My parents were upstairs speaking with the biological father of the two boys our family had adopted. Let me rewind to about a year prior. My mom was good friends with a mother of two boys, who was dying of cancer. She told my mom that the boys’ father was completely out of the picture, and that she had no other living family. My mom, whose body is barily big enough to contain the size of her heart, of course offered to take in the boys so they wouldn’t be seperated in foster care. For that year, there would be 7 of us (My mom and dad, two brothers, and now two new brothers, and I) living in a 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom house. Needless to say, things were cramped at times. Fast forward a year to that afternoon. The adopted boys’ father decided he wanted to step in and raise the boys with his wife, and was over discussing the situation with my parents. Needless to say, it would be an awkward conversation for an 11 year old boy and I wanted no part of it.
Trying to hide out in the basement for a few hours while discussions were going on upstairs, I was looking for something to occupy my time. I remember looking at the guitar, and then the chord charts for ‘Closing Time’ which had only 4, similar shaped looking chords and thinking, “I can do that, lets give it a whirl”. I picked up the guitar, put my fingers on the frets/strings like in the picture, and tried to squeak out the first chord. It sounded like shit. After using my right hand to help move the fingers on my left hand into the right, stretched out positions to make the chord, I tried again. “Still sounds pretty shitty” I thought. After tinkering around with that chord for awhile longer, it finally started to sound a tiny bit like a real chord. After about an hour or so, I was able to play the 4 chords. Luckily they were all really the same chord shape, just in 4 different positions on the guitar. I couldn’t change the positions very fast, and definitely not as fast as the song required, but I was starting to be able to actually hear the same chords as the song. Success! Shitty sounding success, but success none the less! The absolute joy and excitement I felt at that time, to have actually made something that resembled music, would be the catalyst that changed the course of my life for good.
From that point on, I played my brother’s guitar 10 times as much as he did, and it took all but a month or so before I wanted my own. I begged my Dad for an electric guitar, but my parents didn’t have much money, and the response I always got was “you’re just going to have to play Kevin’s, or the ($20 start up acoustic) guitar we got you when you were 6 for now.” Dissappointed, but not deterred, I continued to play on what I had available to me.
There was a used music store within walking distance to our house. I remember finding a red and black Samick guitar for about $100. I remember wanting that guitar so fucking bad for months. Around that time, my neighbor offered to pay me $15 a week to cut her grass, so I got my ass into gear and started saving. Then, after a couple months of grass cutting, I bought my first real guitar. I didn’t get a full night’s sleep the rest of my school career, as I was usually up until the ass-crack of dawn playing away. I fucking hated school anyway, so I got most of my sleeping done there. I think I still have that guitar somewhere…
Fast forward about 13 years, a number of tours, a couple slots at Summerfest (The world’s largest music festival) the hiring and firing of a “pro” manager, and countless shows around the midwest, and I’m more hungry now then ever before. I’m in a band with the best musicians I’ve every played with, and the best friends I could ask to be around. All the positive response our band has gotten from people like you about the music we create makes all of the struggles more than worth it. I really want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart who has ever been to a show, bought a CD, or just listened to a song we wrote, and said anything positive about it. That’s all the fuel I need to keep going. One day, I’m going to quit my day job for good, and make a living writing and playing music. And I have you to thank for that. So thank you so much, and if there is anything I can ever do for any of you in return, please don’t hesitate to ask. Thanks for listening to my ramblings, and more importantly, my music!