Like every other kid who played the guitar in America, I wanted to be a rock star. My friends and I would jam to AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Rush, KISS and others.
Back in the 80s, one of my friends went on to be a part of the punk rock scene in Los Angeles.
My dreams of stardom came to an end when I found myself in a fundamentalist religious cult. Rock music was “Verboten!”
Some “pastors” didn’t even want me to play the guitar. The instrument was “too worldly.” Others were OK with it as long as I played hymns. Even “Christian Rock” was “of the devil.”
Publicly, I denounced rock music. Privately, I kept playing it.
Then, something interesting happened around 1986. I heard a man play the “Mazurka Choro” by Heitor Villa Lobos on the classical guitar.
The music spoke to me. It told a soothing story of calm and peace. I knew that I HAD to learn to play like he did.
I HAD to.
For a while I taught myself. I bought some simple sheet music and began practicing.
I entered the ministry and it took me and my family to Chile. While there I found a guitar teacher named Gonzalo. He guided me dramatically in my development on the guitar.
I would play religious music in the ministry, but classical and even rock <gasp!> when I was “off.” After a while I went ahead and bought an electric guitar and introduced it into my church services. Since I was the pastor, I could do what I wanted!
Even though I was in charge, by crossing that line I knew that my days with the denomination were numbered!
I won’t go into details and name names, but I soon had to make a “choice.” I knew I had to leave Chile or there would literally be Hell to pay.
We moved back to our home state of Arizona and hid from our denomination for about 6 months. After that time I was able to find a regular job and resign from the denomination.
It was one of the happiest days of my life. As a family, we have never looked back.
In Arizona I met master guitarist Dr. Eduardo Minozzi Costa. I have been studying guitar with him since 2012 via Skype. He helped me understand that I could play at any level I wanted to if I had the right tools.
He is such a gifted teacher, that my playing took a quantum leap forward.
After a couple of years of study, I began playing gigs around Yuma, Arizona. . . . an art show here, a charity program there. I even played in the hospital lobby for a while.
Most of these were unpaid gigs. Aside from a regular gig in a local wine bar, most of the time I just played for tips.
I didn’t care, though. I played for people because I loved to do it. It also gave me experience performing in front of people.
I began to notice that some of the people who listened to me were being “taken away” by the music. Their eyes were closed as they listened to me play the “Mazurka Choro” and other beautiful pieces for them.
I feel as though I have come full circle: From listener way back in 1986 to performer of that beautiful music today.
It wasn’t over yet, though. Some of my fans and friends began bugging me about making a recording. I resisted the idea at first. My day job as a mental health counselor is rather demanding.
It dawned on me, though, that I take music for granted. I play it every day. My friends and fans had to make a special effort to come see me. I wanted them to be able to hear the music whenever they wanted.
So, I began to record. As of this writing, my first album is almost complete. When it is done, it will be available in both MP3 and as a physical CD through this site. I can’t wait to share it.
There is no shortage of good music to play out there. So much, that I have about half of the second album already planned. 🙂
So, what about Rock? Do I still play it? From time to time I’ll goof off with some riffs from Rush on the nylon string guitar (they actually sound pretty cool).
In fact, if you come hear me play at North End Coffeehouse in Yuma on any given Saturday morning I’ll probably play an arrangement of Stairway to Heaven that I learned when I was about 14.
Music has been one of the constants in my life. It is a big reason why I left religious fundamentalism.
For me, it is peace. It is freedom.