When I was around 9 or 10 years old a neighbor gave piano lessons. Because my parents knew I loved listening to music they thought it would be good for me to take them. I did for a while but hated it! I never made it past the beginner book. Little League started and I bailed to play baseball.

“What in the world would I need to learn how to play piano for?”

Those words haunt me to this day. If only I had known! What a benefit that would have been.  Oy!

The best pure pianist I ever played with is Blayne Pierce. He started lessons at 8! Play like a M*F*!
I know I would have never been that good, but damn I was an idiot!

I actually did become interested in an instrument shortly after that.  A friend had a drum kit in the basement. I used to bang on them along with records (yes records).  Thought I got pretty good. The first time I jammed with other kids they said,

“Man, you got a good voice. You should just sing!”

I didn’t know if that meant you suck so try something else or did I really have a good voice!

I never thought that I was a good enough singer, and being a front man? That was out of the question. Just the idea of it freaked me out. So I moved on to my next instrument. The guitar!

I bought some cheesy guitar that had green sparkles all over it. It was a Telestar! (cheap cheap cheap) I bought it at Rossi’s Music in Canandaigua, NY. They of course had some great stuff but my budget called for cheesy and man did I like those green sparkles!

I bought a chord book and started teaching myself chords.  It was so cool the first time I realized that some of the chords worked with the records I was playing along with. (yes records again.) I dug in and learned chords to songs I liked.

This will sound familiar. I started jamming with some kids in the neighborhood again on my green sparkled baby and they said,

“Man, you got a good voice. You should just sing!”

Once again I was devastated and once again I didn’t know if that meant you suck so try something else or did I really have a good voice!

Can’t be! How could they not be impressed with me and my sparkles!

Then I thought, “Hey, wait a minute” (in my best Jerry Seinfeld voice.)

I noticed that the other guys were playing farther up the neck and doing some weird thing with their index finger! For those of you who are not familiar with guitar playing. I was playing “country” chords as some would call it. They were playing “bar” chords which involves barring the fret with your index finger and then various placements of your other fingers. For those musicians who are reading this. They are laughing right now. Anyway, there are many ways to play a chord. I was doing it the most basic way.

I went to work for hours working on bar chords… I sucked… I couldn’t do it.  I could catch a football, swing a bat, scoop a ball at third base and toss to first. Do tons of pushups, sit ups, do wheelies on my bike, and run like the wind but couldn’t make my fingers play a bar chord! I was defeated!

One day a buddy who knew how to play said,

“Hey man, I could show you something!”

He tuned my guitar so that all I had to do was bar the chord and not worry about the rest of my fingers.

Brilliant!  Hallelujah! I got this!!

I will skip ahead to later in my life.  The part I am skipping will be another story.

I was sitting in on a song at a live show with a country band that was well known in the Finger Lakes area of New York State. They were called The Mountain Ramblers. (That’s a story for the future also.) I was approached by the manager of what would be my first band. He asked if I would be interested in auditioning for his band, they were looking for a rhythm guitar player that could sing.

When I showed up for the audition I realized I was way out of my league. These guys were all in their 20’s and 30’s and had been playing for a while. I should mention that I never looked my age. They didn’t know I was 14 years old.

As we started to play the first song, the guitar player stopped me and said, “What the hell are you doing? What is with your bar chords!?  We thought you could play!”

The manager spoke up and said, “But man, he’s got a good voice. He should just sing!”

This time I listened.

12 comments found

  1. Everybody that follows you I’m sure have many great memories from throughout the years listening to your amazing voice.
    Circa 1972 my Grandmother (Mary) singing with you and your sparkling guitar in our/your kitchen on Seneca Drive. Crazy Italians!

  2. I love these stories and memories, I laughed out loud at the “New Singer” blog, maybe you can’t play a tune but you sure the hell can sing one. Now we find that you can write a hell of a blog too. Cant wait for more….
    Rock on Green Sparkles..

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