I grew up in Atlanta. Even before I could drive, I would ride my bike to Atlanta Discount Music, not to always buy gear (because I was a kid and broke). I rode seven miles to Atlanta Discount Music to just to be around all the musicians (working or just hanging out). It was musicians, just talking about guitars, amps, playing last night’s gig. It was not just a guitar shop. To me, it was a school of music. I just soaked it up. Most of my friends, from way back then, do not even play music anymore. I am unable to let it go.
This same feeling plays out at Gibson. Not all of the employees are musicians, but there are some really good players. Some are weekend warriors, a few are Honky Tonk pickers down on lower Broad and a lot are backyard sling-a-longers. In the Custom Shop, most of the guys I work around are players. My boss has had the same weekend gig at a roadhouse (on the TN/ KY border) for 17 years. The roadhouse is in the middle of a corn field, across from a cow pasture, no joke.
We spend our breaks and lunches talking gear. Just when we say, “I have everything I need,” here comes the release of another amp… or pedal… or someone is selling a ’72 Super Lead (I hate when that happens). It never stops. And it shouldn’t.
I gig just about every weekend. I really enjoy playing in front of an audience with other musicians. I am not trying to be a touring rock god (like I thought I would be, years ago). I am playing guitar, to just play. It is what I have always wanted to do.
I tell my wife, about my gigs: “This is my bowling night or golf game.” Instead of going out and spending thousands of dollars on golf clubs or a kick-ass bowling ball (custom Ebonite, Vital Sign with skull and cross-bones airbrushed on the face), I acquire guitars, pedals and amps. My wife understands. Not many wives do. The fact that I work at Gibson as a profession and perform live as a hobby makes up for the life I thought about, years back at Atlanta Discount Music.
But, I still have not forgotten about the “touring rock star” dream. I just need to stop losing hair, find my parachute pants and clean up my knee high moccasin boots.