Over the holidays I went the longest period of time in my adult life without picking up or playing the guitar. I went an entire month without playing anything at all on the guitar. 30 days to be exact.
I travelled to visit my Mom for what was originally going to be a ten day visit, that ended up turning into an entire month of visiting my Mom, my Brother and my dad, all separately. I didn’t take any of my guitars with me on this trip since I didn’t originally plan on being gone so long and I figured I probably wouldn’t have that much time to play anyway, since I would be busy doing family stuff.
When I got back home after my extended visit with my family, I found my guitar in my bedroom, undisturbed in its case, with a small layer of dust on top. I opened up the case to my guitar on my first night back, picked up the guitar and played for about an hour, without an amp, slowly re-acclimating myself to the fretboard. The next night I played about two hours, with an amp, re-discovering different licks and improvisational ideas I had been working on before I left to visit my family.
Since then, I’ve played more and more every day, sometimes playing as much as five or six hours per day. After the longest period of time not playing the guitar at all in my adult life, I’ve entered a period where I’ve been playing more guitar each day than I have in many years, as corny as it sounds, re-discovering my love for the guitar and playing guitar in the process.
In fact, I’ve been playing guitar so much during the last month or so, that I haven’t written any new songs or new music during this period. I often fluctuate between periods where I’m focused on either songwriting or guitar and tend to go back and forth between these two crafts, so this isn’t particularly out of the ordinary for me. But this particular period of focusing on guitar feels more intense than previous periods and I find myself really excited when I wake up each day to pick up my guitar and see what ideas and licks I come up with. It’s a great feeling that I haven’t felt in a long time. There is a real sense of having come full circle and getting back to my roots in terms of what I love so much about music and the guitar in the first place.
I think it’s good to take a break from time to time from music, in order to go back to it with fresh eyes and ears. Sometimes we can get so focused on trying to “make it” or become successful, that we can lose touch with what makes music so fun and invigorating in the first place. I didn’t plan on taking a break from music for so long, but the unintended consequence of this accidental sabbatical has been a renewed sense of passion and purpose for the guitar and music.
I’ve found myself really gravitating back to listening and playing the kind of music that motivated me to start playing guitar in the first place so many years ago. I fell in love with the guitar, thanks to guitar players like Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Stevie Ray Vaughn, David Gilmour, Jerry Garcia and many, many more.
After high school I got really into Phish and Trey Anastasio, as well as a few other jambands. I’ve seen hundreds of concerts in my life, but hands down the single band I’ve seen live more than any others is Phish. I saw them over 50 times between 1992 and 2019. They have been a huge influence on my approach to music and songwriting and Trey has been a huge influence on my guitar playing.
Originally, I was going to announce a new series of tribute videos devoted to my love of Phish and their guitarist, Trey Anastasio. I still plan do that project, but Sunday morning things took a slightly different turn when, on a whim, I recorded a three minute and 20 second improvised guitar piece expressing my sorrow over the conflict in Ukraine. I called the piece “Song For Ukraine” since the conflict is unfolding in Ukraine.
I then proceeded to post the video on a handful of Facebook groups I belong to throughout the world. I’ve travelled a lot over the last decade or so and so I belong to a number of international communities on Facebook in places like Mexico, Colombia, Spain, Costa Rica and more. Here’s the message I posted….
Here's the song I posted if you want to check that out:
The song and post weren’t really meant to make any sort of grand political statement. I have my own take on the conflict and consider myself fairly knowledgeable about the recent history of Russia, Ukraine and NATO. However, it’s not my intention to take sides with my music or promote tribalism. It’s this sort of taking sides and tribalism that leads to war in the first place.
As a musician, I’m playing music to try and bring people together and promote peace and harmony. As such, I was simply expressing my sorrow over the war and the fact that innocent civilians are dying. I received a ton of support and received a lot great feedback about the track and the sentiment. I also received a lot of comments from people questioning why the outrage over this specific war and not other conflicts, as if strangers on the internet somehow know my position on other wars and conflicts.
Here’s an example of some of the comments I received:
A lot of comments were debating the validity of media reports....
Many comments questioned why I cared about this conflict and not others (as if strangers online know how I feel about other conflicts)...
I actually welcomed the push back to the post. It’s a reminder that wars and conflicts always have two sides and different perspectives. Life isn’t some sort of Marvel comic book only comprised of “villains” and “good guys”. The real word is complex and nuanced with different perspectives and different interpretations of the same events. The real world is messy and complex. But to me, at the end of the day, war and innocent civilians losing their lives is simply sad, irrespective of the reasons for going to war in the first place.
I realize this has nothing to do with music licensing per se, and this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but hey, I’m just an artist following what I’m inspired to do to see where it takes me.
I’ll be making a few more “pro-peace” videos and improvised guitar pieces over the next few weeks. If you’re interested in checking those out, please be sure to subscribe to my Youtube Channel here.
First and foremost, I’m just an artist doing my best to grow as a musician and get my music out there. I’ll be leaning into that part of my personality more going forward.