Thursday, September 8, 2016

All Aboard!


  It's Throwback Thursday, and on this day in 2012, I was jamming in Charlotte, NC on the very first rail tour!

  I'm absolutely thrilled to be hopping on a train tomorrow to NYC to kick off the next one!  Proud to present...THE DANCE PARTY!  The idea:  Make a music video with the world to counter all of this fear and political nonsense.  I hope you can join in.  As always, it's interactive, it's worldwide, and it's gonna rock!

Here's the deets:

See you out there!

All Aboard!


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Throwback Thursday

It's exactly 12 years ago to the minute that I was nervously arranging my classroom for the very first guitar lesson.  (Thanks for your patience in that first class, Andy.)

  My mom's borrowed Toyota Tercel, perhaps with painted hubcaps, was parked outside the guitar shop, and the new carpet smell of the fresh building seemed a strange scent to start a rock 'n roll odyssey on, but then again, when does life make sense?

  With all the wisdom and foresight of an 18-year old boy (and I still can't decide if I mean this sarcastically or not), I had said "Yeah, music looks cool" fresh out of high school.  I was in a band making $300 a month, and applied to teach where I had taken lessons for years.  Green Day had just dropped their American Idiot album, Fall Out Boy was charting with song titles that didn't make immediate sense (well, some things never change, they still are), and that year's election of Kerry v. Bush seems like Downton Abbey in retrospect and contrast to today's circus.  "I say, sir, what about those swift boats?"

  I stepped out my own front door today, and jogging down the street, thought back over the years.

  Wow.  What a ride.  A generic expression of gratitude, no matter how fervent, doesn't cut it. (But believe me, it's there.)  So, in addition, I'd like to share something that I've learned from the last 12 years.

   At first glance, a casual observer wouldn't see much about the teaching room.  Yeah, there was always a Hendrix poster up, but the almost-caricature average town of Waldorf can blind those who aren't trained in looking.  But it's there, it's always there.  Whenever and where ever there are people, there are stories, heart and heartache, heroes, tyrants, and history to be made.  The author Tom Brown made the same point about an average front lawn with it's vast saga of flora and fauna playing out unseen.  The same could be said of Suburbia.

  It's almost a practice in itself, and what a fitting lesson for me to have learned as a teacher.

  To see the fretboard of a nervous student's guitar wet with sweat under their scared hands, but yet they keep showing up for lessons and gradually emerge from their shell.  To watch a young woman with promise take a dark turn, almost not survive, then find herself, her place in life, and accolades in a field that matters to her.  Good job on EMT of the year, Kelly.  The Revolution salutes you.  To talk with the writers and poets, the pastors and the mechanics, the moms and dads, the people who wanted to play a few songs for friends, and others who would go on to the Warped Tour and have students of their own.  To have them put up with me learning how to teach, or having a distracted day, or getting WAY to wired on Mountain Dew and a Butterfinger bar (although Sam did that intentionally.  I agree with his logic 100%) To see Andy, my first student, years later in Philly while on a street music tour, and jam with him among all the weirdos in the sit and have pizza with former students, graduated from modes and scales, both of us trying to figure out life and kindness and how to make sense of it all.

  Yes, there was a lot of music.  There was also a lot of talking.  Yes, yes, I know, Hunter.  You were right.  We did chat quite a bit.  I'm glad we still do, even though we haven't played guitar together in...oh what, eight years?  (By the way, you owe me a call, dude!)

  People say to me that I'm lucky.  I couldn't agree more, although I must add a clarification.  While it's an incredible privilege to making a living with a guitar in my hands, the music is just a fraction of the equation.  It's the people, their sharing, their stories, their connection, that really matter.  The music is a vehicle, albeit a meaningful one to everyone involved.  Spinning an 80's pressing of an Ozzy concert on the turntable, I remind the young boy sitting across from me with his mom that what we do as guitar players is "epic, man!"  His presence and his laughter during the lesson replies to me that it's more than that, too.  Thanks for the reminder, buddy.

  And thank you all for the lesson.

You all so rock, and I salute you!

- Josh