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Now let’s see....

I am 59 now and I was first transfixed by a guitar in around 1955. I really can't remember the incident but I would imagine it was a film or a magazine or maybe watching the TV owned by the rich people down the road.


As I have mentioned before, for Christmas 1956 my parents bought me a kid "Elvis Presley" toy guitar which was the first time I touched a guitar.


Then the music scene came alive with Elvis, Cliff Richard and especially Cliffs backing group "The Shadows".


The Shadows played Strats and Precision Basses and I needed one of those bad so I made one from Plywood and a lump of 2 x 2. I hasten to add that it had fishing line as strings!


I would have been about 9 when my parents bought me an acoustic "Spanish" guitar. I learnt three chords and then became much more interested in Janet Hawkins and Monica Watson ( funny how I remember the names)


Took me to the swinging 60s and in 1964 I became a member of that ground breaking, progressive band "Wayout".


Wayout was formed at school and existed mainly as a vehicle to allow us to print cards which we duly handed out to Janet Hawkins and Monica Watson’s successors.


We did cut a record..........in a kiosk on Portsmouth sea front, five of us cramped in, singing something with a harp in the background.


Now having set the scene you may imagine a strong and steady musical progression through the genres, each year getting a little better, each guitar purchases adding another musical colour to my prowess.





The 60s consisted on flowers in the hair, too much acid and too many girls. Guitars were taken to "love -ins" as a prop. ( I recall by now the acoustic Spanish had been painted green/blue) There were a long succession of guitars and girls.


Got married for the first time in 74 which stifled musical creativity ( which was Ok because it had never appeared in the first place LOL)


Our first child Matthew was born in 78 and was diagnosed as Spinabifida, he and his mother were in hospital in London for 6 months. In that time I learnt the blues!


I bought my J45 in 81 largely to play in a worship band in church and there have been many guitars since


But still today rather than gigging or busking, I am painfully shy of my playing, consider myself a flat picker first, strummer second and finger picker way third. Lets put it this way all my guitars need a re-fret up to fret 5 after a year or so!


Lead is something on a church roof!


We are getting this little get together organised in May at Gibson’s showroom in London and AJ keeps on about having an open mike session. ( Secretly I am plotting if I can get away with turning up with my left wrist in plaster)


My playing has got better I know but now as I get older my joints aren't as supple as they used to be and I find that the 12 string especially hurts a little which forces me to keep playing it!!!


One day I will summon up the courage to join Ashford Folk Club where I am sure I will find that, excepting a couple of stars, all the guitarists are of a similar standard to me!

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Great stories.


I began playing in 1962, when I was nearly 12. I wanted to write songs. At about 17, I began to play out at local coffee houses, sporadically. That evolved into playing solo at small bars as well, and the occasional festival . Intermittently, friends would throw together small combos (acoustic), and we'd do jug band kind of stuff for a gig or three. I never enjoyed the process of playing for pay, and I detest recording. Nevertheless, I became facile enough at it, to perform my own songs at good venues here and there, variously opening for the likes of some pretty well known artists, and to make some professional demos.


A relative arranged, around 1972, for an A&R man at a fairly successful label, to listen to some of the demos. He liked a few of them, and shopped one to a very famous singer. She was interested in recording it, I was told. Tragically, she died before anything developed. I was sufficiently horrified by that to become even more cynical than I was already. I soon became even less interested in performing, or promoting myself, and gradually became the musical hermit that I am today.


As a player, I have never consciously tried to emulate anyone other than Blind Blake----from whom I've learned much. I've managed to steal some of his techniques, enough to color my songs with the musical hues I envision. Virtuoso guitarists I know tell me I'm a "great player.....for a songwriter". Which is a nice way of saying "I can't believe how little you've evolved, and your lack of scope, despite having played, voraciously, for decades".


Currently, and for the last few years, I've been working on a writing a collection of "Songs For A Barbershop Quartet and Milady's Parlour"......a project that has brought me much joy, and really stretched me as a writer. I've written about 10 really strong pieces, and am working on several more that fit the concept. I like distilling lyrics into a very concise, memorable framework. So far, I've only managed to record one of these songs....but it came out allright, and went to #20 on Soundclick, without any help from me or my friends----who are all frustrated with my lack of ambition, anyway.

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After playing piano at the behest of my mother from the age of about 6, I got my first guitar around the age of 13. It was a nylon string and had a wide neck, but as it was my first I didn't know the difference. Because of the theory I had learned on piano, chords and strumming came pretty easy and I played that nylon a lot with my church youth group in the 70's.


I always meant to buy a "proper" (steel string) guitar, but there was always something else to get and I started with a Fender Stratocaster as a friend had invited me to join his New Wave band back in the MTV days. Of course, by the time I was able to afford the Strat, the band had already broken up, but I enjoyed playing little licks and stuff with that Strat. Later, I went through a phase where I picked up a Fender P-J Bass and I must admit to getting a tremendous amount of joy out of playing bass along with records...pretty much anything except for funk...I have yet to master the whole slapping dynamic in a meaningful way.


As with many here, I went through I hiatus from playing the guitar that must have lasted nearly 10 years. I had moved to NYC with a girl that I thought was the love of my life at the time. She surprised me one day by moving out (closets cleared and not a trace of her). My answer was to go out and get a guitar, and a fine answer it was if I do say so myself. I played that crappy Fender that I bought for $40 on the street all that summer and it restored my faith that things can get better if you focus on them. Had an Epiphone 12 string too with a "shock absorber" neck that bounced up and down while it was played. You could see the goo from the glue at the neck joint as it was barely held in place. Those were the days.


Eventually, I saved up my money and made a visit to Stanley Jay at Mandolin Brothers on Staten Island, hellbent on not leaving that fine shop with anything less than a Martin. (I left with a Taylor and that's another story.)


While in NYC, I took a few lessons and learned a lot, but in 1998 I moved to Santa Monica and discovered McCabe's where I have studied with Fred Sokolow, Peter Case, Fran Bannish and Sue Fink. I take a performance class where I have to have something ready to sing each week (just me and the guit) and they have a showcase every 8 weeks or so. I'm working up to figuring out how to get power to a rig so a friend can busk with me on 3rd St Promenade here in Santa Monica.


These days I play to songwrite and accompany myself as I've always been a much better singer than a guitar player. I'm mostly a flatpicker and a strummer, but I can play some fingerstyle when I want to (mostly thanks to Mark Hanson). I can't say I've never played in public, but certainly not as much as I would like and I'm working to change that before I hit the big 5-oh in 2.5 years.


I'm not quite as good as I would like to be, but I'm getting there and man, what a hell of a ride it has been and continues to be! There are so many great guitars out there and IMHO, most of them are Gibsons.

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You are all such interesting people with such amazing stories! It's really been a learning experience for me reading this forum. This is my first post so allow me to introduce myself. My name is Vasilis and I'm from New York, and I'm a freshman at Columbia University. As for my experience with music, I've played drums for 10 years and was in my school's jazz band in high school. I don't consider myself to be amazing, but I certainly love the instrument and have improved a lot over the years. I've always loved music since I could remember and there's not a day in my life I've gone without my iPod or iTunes to distract me, but my favorite band is really what pushed me towards the guitar. Jason Wade of Lifehouse is a huge influence on my life, and this past year I finally decided that I wanted to begin learning the guitar so I could, too, write my own music one day. What initially drew me to Gibson was also, in fact, Jason Wade. He is an avid collector of vintage Gibsons and is always playing one in every video or concert I've seen. So I've only been taking lessons for a few months now, but I'm already in love with the instrument and plan on buying myself a Hummingbird as soon as I can put together the money (probably not till summer, unless my parents decide to surprise me for my birthday). My teacher told me that my ability to play the drums is really useful and that I'm a natural, which is always nice to hear. So when I'm not hanging out with friends, doing homework, or procrastinating (the three tenets of being a college student, I believe), I'm practicing my guitar, hoping to be as good as you guys are.


Thanks for listening, and I'm sure there's much more to learn from you guys.




If you guys aren't familiar with Lifehouse, this is one of my favorite songs of theirs. I hope you all like it.


And, Jason Wade talking about his favorite Gibson.

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Hi folks,

rscott4079 -thank you for asking people here this question. It was extremely interesting for me to read all about. Especially about Jinder - because I love very much his songs and I purchased the CD of The Mercurymen - "Postcards from Valonia" and I must suggest it to all of you - it is a wonderful peace of music!

As about me- as I have told you I live in Bulgaria. My parents were agronomists, when I was a little boy they lived in a village. My father played guitar with a dropped first E string to D. This is some kind of "irregular russian tune". If you know russians have 7 string guitars and my father's was 6 string. He sung wery well.

I wanted to learn music. I wanted to play violin. But It was impossible. We were in a village. There were no musicians. It was in late 60-ties. In early 70-ties my parents moved to live in a town by the Danube river. The name of that town is Russe. At this moment my grandfather who was a doctor and had worked 5 years in Algeria returned from there with my grandmother and my oncle. My oncle has bring along from Algeria many vinil records of The Beatles. This was the first time in my life when something made me shiver. I was about 10 years old and when I heared the first time "Ob-la-di Ob-la-da" I just wanted to sing and play that sond!!! I started to copy the lyrics from the poster inside the White Album (I did not know a word in english! I did not know what I am coping as words...)

Here is the right time to say that by that time in eastern Europe there were a rough communist regime and The Beatles were clamed as "decadent western music" just like Rolling Stones and Elvis and all of those "capitalist trash"... There were no decent guitars in the shops in Bulgaria. Till the early 90-ties in Bulgaria there were no good guitars in music stores . I assure you! Bulgarian musicians went to western Europe to play on ferryboats or in bars to get some money to buy instruments. There is no a Gibson shop in Bulgaria until that moment now. You can not buy a Gibson guitar in a bulgarian music store.

In 1975 I went to another town - Varna. Situated at the seaside of the Black See. There I was 5 years in a French high school ( "Lycee de langue francaise"). I lived 5 years in the highschool hostel and there for the first time I started to learn how to play guitar. I had a friend who allready knew how to play and had a guitar but he did not gave that instrument to nobody and locked it in his wardrobe. When he was not in the hostel I unlocked his wardrobe and took the guitar and played. That's how I started. Then this same friend showed me the basic chords. Then I found a book with the words and guitar tabs of 280 Beatles songs...

Allmost everything that I play on guitar I learned alone. I never had a teacher. I only looked at the tabs and played chords and sung. (I never could play solos... Pitty because in one of the bands I have played I had to be the lead guitar and it was a disaster...)

After The Beatles to me came The Queen, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, The Sweet, ELO, The Rolling Stones, Paul Simon, Bob Dyla and many others including french singer-songwriters as Georges Moustaki, Ives Duteil, Francis Cabrel, russian singer-songwriters as Bulat Okudjava, Vladimir Visotski, Janna *****evskaya... After that were Yes, Kansas, Styx, Chicago, Magnum, Saga, I POOH, Kayahan ( a turkish singer-songwriter)........

Later on in the high school we made a group of acoustic guitars and a piano and sang and played songs we made.

When I was in the army I played alone, after that I was a student of medicine for 6 years and I took part in several rock grups as a rythm guitar player and a singer.

My first real guitar is my Yamaha - the "Songmaker". Purchased it from Paris France in november 1993.

In the middle of the 90-ties I stopped playing for several years. But in 1998 a friend "took me out from the hole" and I started again... And then I started to make my own songs.

I never learned theory of music. I don't know the notes. I am an illiterate singer-songwriter. 5-6 years ago I played in a restorant with a girl - violin player. We did it well and even we allmost signed a contract to go to play in South Corea, but it did not happen...

Now I play alone in my kitchen and make songs. I take lyrics from my friends and make songs. I prefere to make the melodies and to play and sing instead of writing the lyrics. I can write song-lyrics but it gets me much more time to do that, than to make the music for a good poetry and create a song out of it.

I sing in bulgarian, english, french, russian, turkish, italian , romanian and spanish langages.

Whith the age my voice is becoming stronger.

I think I am in a good shape now.

If I had the chanse to do that I'd play and sing 24 hours a day.

In the every day life I am a medical representative for Boiron - a french homeopathic drug company but my real life is when I am on stage before the audience with my guitars. This is the most powerfull drug to me. I adore live - playing and singing.

One of the finest finest arts on that planet (I think) is to sing and play on a good acoustic guitar unplugged before the audiance a good song of yours.

Here is a link to my concert from 13.10.2008 (I have posted it allready):


After I made this concert where I sing my songs (only the last 2 songs are not mine) I decided to purchase a really superb guitar. That took me 2 months of thinking, digging the internet (like that I fell in that forum) and making the decision of the kind and the price of the guitar I wanted to buy.

The decision was hard to take. I never had touched a Gibson Acoustic guitar in my hands... But I decided to buy an SJ 200 so now I have my MISTER GIBS .

When my friends look at him and especially when they hear his sound they say every time one thing : W O W!!!

There is no Gibson SJ 200 in Bulgaria. For now M-R GIBS is the one of the kind hundreds of miles arround :-)

And I am proud with that.

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Well, Seymour Duncan was my first guitar teacher at Dodd Music/Jeweler in 62 when I was 12. His pals Joe Walsh and Lonnie Mack would stop in to see him, and all three of them said, " but you just aren't any good!". I stayed at it with both electric and acoustic through jr. and high school. Even got to sing, "Listen People". Almost wet my pants.

Duncan went to Cincy, Mack to Guys N' Dolls, Walsh to Kent State and me to the 101st Airborne and S.E. Asia where I wet my pants every night. Got through and divided my time between school at the University of Kentucky and weekends at the Fifth Floor Studio up in Cincy as a hopeful sessions triple backup or so. Lonnie was there, Little Joe Williams and once even James Brown. They all said,"but you just aren't any good". I've always stayed local and loco and been told, " but you just aren't any good!". What do they know.


I did make it through college. Worked for the Commonwealth 30 years, paid my pension dues and retired at 55. Eat your hearts out. Kept the playing to the weekends. All my pals got married and aren't allowed out anymore. I own my home and have a small studio where I still fool around regularly. Sure picked up a lot of guitars and equipment over the years. I don't know that I ever got past, "but you just aren't any good", but I've sure tried with both acoustic and electric. =D>

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I was briefly given piano lessons when I was a small boy in NJ. But soon after the lessons began my family moved to CA and the lessons were never reinstated. By the time I was 10 or 11, I was making little guitars out of cigar boxes and yardsticks using enameled electrical wire for strings. At around 15 my folks went to Hawaii and came back with a nice ukulele for me. I learned to play chords on it for lots of songs and at 16 asked for and was given a nylon string guitar. I'm 56 now so this was about 40 years back. In one of those dramatic scenes so characteristic of the 60's, my father smashed my nylon string guitar because I refused to cut my hair. When the dust settled I ended up with a new Yamaha steel string. I bought a new Martin D-18 around 1970 with money saved up from from summer jobs. I took 4 or 5 lessons around 71 from a jazz player who showed me how to play scales in 12 positions and encouraged me to construct my own chord voicings. Later in the late 70's and 80's when I was an English teacher in Taiwan, I did quite a bit of professional playing in coffee shops, restaurants and even Taiwan TV. I had a very lucrative gig going for a while entertaining kids along with a clown in full regalia with enormous shoes. We used to have some very funny routines with the sound of the guitar controlling the clown's movements. I have been playing a lot in the last 3 or 4 years. The Martin had some serious issues after living in high heat and humidity in Taiwan for a decade and the bridge was coming up. I had a pretty good software gig until recently so I started buying guitars. I now play several Gibsons and a Martin OM-21. I mostly play broadway tunes and jazz standards, but I also play anything I hear that I like, and I am very fond of waltz time. I can read music, albeit slowly and laboriously. I mainly read only to get the melody off lead sheets.

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Here are some pics of playing from my Taiwan period early '80s:


With_clown_at_taipei_american_school.jpg (at Taipei American School)


taiwan_perf_1.jpg (a christmas thing)


taiwan_perf_2.jpg (Sun Yat-sen smiling down benignly behind me)


taiwan_perf_3.jpg (a trade show booth for American goods. They actually had that shirt made by a tailor for me. I still have dreams about the beautiful lady who took my measurements. The red and white banner says 'Jerry brothers jugglers')

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Awesome thread... humbling to read your stories and experiences, thanks. My story is far less exciting and dull in comparison!


I once upon a time, when I was about 8 (I'm 29 now) "borrowed" a guitar from school, and my friends and I became the beatles for a few days! I sold that guitar for about £10 a few years, and never played again, despite my father being a very useful blues player - I promised myself that one day I would take it up properly from that point.


It was my Dad's influence, and when I was travelling I bumped into a chap called Guy Brown who was backpacking Australia with a guitar. He sat down and did the classic singalong songs around the campfire deep in the Australian bush. That point made me decide I would give it a shot properly... I know, cheesy, but true. Within 6 weeks of getting home I had bought my first guitar (some horrible, horrible plywood ebay number), and that is no mean feat having disposable income after going around the world. 3 yrs on (almost to the day), here I am - I have gigged, but as I've intimated before, I am distinctly average at best, but consider myself to have one of the very greatest of British traits - I am a trier!

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I've been playing since my early teens, now in my mid-50's, almost strictly acoustic. I'm a decent strummer and a so-so flat picker. I think I play better with others rather than by myself. No professional gigs ever, but a long history of playing in church bands. My J-45 is my best therapy!



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My family is filled with musicians and artists. My mother has played piano since she was 7 and is now a choir and piano teacher at a private school. My grandfather, with a deep bellowing bass of a voice, is the man who told me that "everyone can sing, and the Lord wants everyone to do so." I was in choir for three years from 6th-8th grade, and orchestra for just one year on the cello. I love singing, but not choir singing, and the cello just didn't get into my veins, so I stopped being formally involved in music for four years. Picked up a guitar of my friends a week after I graduated high school and said "teach me something" (he promptly showed me a G chord, which I then used to play the worst version of "wish you were here" in the history of the world). I borrowed that guitar (a Squire Stratocaster lulz) until I bought my Seagull S6+ Folk three months later, the week before I left for University. I played that acoustic for two years before I bought my Les Paul Studio. I'm a bedroom, garage, picnic 'n' campfire kind of guy, but when push comes to shove... I like things LOUD, and my poor old S6+ can't compete against my Hot Rod Deluxe. I stick mostly to blues and heavily blues driven rock (if I even have a style, I would say "heavy handed and sloppy blues"), but every now and then I like to break out my acoustic and do the singer-songwriter thing, although what that usually results in is me doing clumsy electric covers (in that same heavy handed and sloppy style) of the songs I learned on acoustic. If I had to cite influences, I'd say Jack White, Dan Auerbach, Hendrix, and Page.


Reading through this thread has really let me know what kind of talent there is floating around this place. I've only been playing for coming up on three years, some of you are playing for well over 40 years. That's just amazing.

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This is one of the best and most interesting and informative threads I've read on any guitar forum. Thanks to all for taking the time to tell your personal stories.


I concur, everyone has such great stories. I'm impressed with not only the uniqueness of each story, but also the many commonalities as well. I'm impressed with the folks who have made careers with their guitar work, and I'm impressed with the folks who've enjoyed the simple pleasure of playing at home through the years. And I'm impressed with the range of age, and the range of geography - imagine owning the only SJ-200 in Bulgaria - how cool is that!


I've always considered the the guitar to be the preiminent musical instrument. That so many diverse people can sit down and speak the language of the guitar, only reinforces that opinion in my mind.



P.S.: Jerry K - I think you sound alot like Richard Thompson when you sing.

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I'm 47. One of my older brothers played guitar; at one point, my brothers had a band that rehearsed in the den next to my bedroom. Most of my childhood was spent in Franklin County, VA, home to the Clark Brothers if you're into them, and the moonshine capital of the world for many years. I was NOT into local music, though - my father has always been a classically-oriented clarinetist and music professor, while my mother was a church organist who prefers classical and baroque music.


I started playing guitar in high school, initially on a plywood Castilla classical guitar Dad got for me for $20. We had moved to Macon, GA by then. I was also writing lyrics for one of my best friends, who was recording "musical allegories" for credit in the studies in mankind courses, and after a certain point I wanted a steel-string acoustic. I got a Washburn copy of a Martin D-18 and learned all those gloomy minor chords ideal for conveying musical angst. I wasn't playing publicly - ZERO self-confidence - but by 1979 or so I started doing home recordings using two cassette decks to overdub parts. For a long time I got hung up on electric guitars, and the usual recording rig involved first a Hagstrom II, then a '68 Telecaster (which I still have!) through a succession of small tube amps.


In 1986 I formed The Deadbeats, a punkish little roots music trio with occasional jam band leanings. That lasted for two years, always on weekends, etc., while I worked a succession of day jobs. All the while I was buying and selling and trading vintage guitars I found around the area. One guitar I kept for a long time was a 1960 Gibson LG-2, which became my primary acoustic. In late '87 I left retail to write for a newspaper, but the band lasted until early '88. I quit playing for a few months, until a friend took me to a Richard Thompson show in Atlanta.


I played my first solo acoustic show in April '89 at a Last Friday's concert in Macon. It was a revelation - I did mostly original songs, in a place that wasn't a bar, and they went over really well. I wound up playing several shows there, and picking up some other gigs along the way. Playing solo also sometimes actually fed me - I'd gotten burned out by newspapers and was working retail again - and the night I got paid a pittance, but it meant I could actually eat until my next payday was a big deal.


I moved to South Carolina in 1991 because of the job (I still work in the same place, but higher up now). I left Macon right as the good gig offers were starting, but hey, I needed a J. For a time I played both solo and as half of a duo (One Eye Open we called ourselves), but then settled into playing coffeehouses more for fun than anything else. For a while there, I would take part in a weekly open mic at a coffeehouse with my own little rule for myself - I had to have a new original song every week. It was a good challenge that helped me broaden the styles I could work in.


The local coffeehouse scene slowly died off, and I quit playing out in early '99. I had a bunch of vintage acoustics that I sold or gave away, and kept a big ol' Taylor, because foolishly I thought I needed a cutaway. I let go of the LG-2, and I gave my brother my '50 J-45. Then I quit playing, period, for a couple of years. I finally married, and things settled in to a routine - until I had a heart attack. When I was well enough to play again, I discovered I no longer liked the Taylor. It was too big, too bulky, the neck was too skinny, and it no longer fit me. I played sporadically and drifted along kinda sorta playing for a couple of years. Then one day, I went into a Guitar Center.


I was really looking for something else, but my wife and I stepped into the acoustic room. There was a J-45 on the wall that looked almost like my old J-45, and on a whim I took it down. You have to understand - I'm standing there with this guitar still coming off the hook, my left hand holding the neck, not even near playing position, and this thrill ran up my arm. The guitar was speaking to me, saying, "Welcome home. Take me with you."


I balked. It took me two months to figure out how to buy it - but it was still there, and it's my favorite guitar ever, period.


I've played a couple of coffee house gigs and an outdoor festival in the last few years, but right now I'm busy with two young children under the age of two, so music is catch it when I can. I still plan on recording (or re-recording) a bunch of my stuff in the next couple of years and self-releasing it, just to see what happens.


There are a few older songs of mine at <http://www.myspace.com/russfitzgerald>, but bear in mind they reflect my voice when I still smoked and before I took up cycling. I like to think I sound better now ...




'05 J-45 Historic Collection

'68 Fender Telecaster

'78 Alvarez classical

'64 Gretsch 6001 classical

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My story is not as impressive as most of yours. I am 29 and I started playing late in life whenI was 23 so only 6 years now. i dont play out just for my wife and 8 yr old son. they are my only fans LOL my dad played great and was big into southern rock and country but never played in a band. I am working up to playing open stage night some where soon. I play about 20 songs well like neil young, dylan, hank junior, john mellemcamp.


this is the best thread i've ever read on here and I am very impressed with the stories especially john lee walker and jinder and jayla. some of you have lived the lives most of us only dream of!!

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