I don’t care what profession you end up choosing, at a certain point, nothing will really ever more forward for you without some key help from certain folks at just the right time! This was certainly my case, even though there seemed at times to be just as many people who wanted to hurt me, and hold me back. Still, there were key moments when just the right amount of help was “just what the doctor ordered!”
I suppose the biggest legacy of those who helped me is the simple fact of how naturally I want to help others who are in the shoes I can picture myself once in. I can go all the way back to incidences that some people would never even remember, but which were moments that loomed very large in my life at the time. For example, I’ll never forget the time I took a solo in my 4th grade orchestra on violin, which I was very good at, and my teacher, whom the kids all made fun of me having a crush on, said “and where did you get that lovely vibrato?!” Well, needless to say, my heart melted, and most of all, it was so incredibly encouraging to hear how she, a teacher I loved and respected, really heard the subtlety in what I was playing! This was a true moment of encouragement that really kept me afloat for quite some time!
When I first started playing in the clubs in Woodstock when I was 16 and just started college in Philadelphia, I was quickly getting discovered up there, and one night, outside the Sled Hill Café, where I got to first “sit in” with my band Steel between Buzzy Feiten’s set, and was then actually gigging, a bassist named Tony Brown walked up to me and asked me if I knew Happy and Artie Traum. Well, even though they were fairly obscure at that time, I did know who they were, and was duly impressed that Tony played bass with them. Of course, at that time I was impressed by meeting anyone who actually made real records, because that was still a million miles away from my world! Well, before long, after that meeting with Brown, we formed our own 5-piece band, which I moved to Woodstock to be a part of, and soon after started touring and recording with Happy and Artie themselves! Both of them were truly encouraging of my guitar playing, which was bringing down the house everywhere we played, and I must admit, I really consider that period my true professional start!
It goes on and on, and you’ll never know just when one of those positive contacts you made 30 years ago may come around “full circle” and yet help you again! It’s a natural human trait to want to help someone whom you helped way back when; almost a reassurance that we’re all still here, and that we can still make a difference for each other, and still “feel our oats!”
So try to help those you can along your (and their) way, and always be reminded of those who came before you, and helped you at certain key moments of your career. As you can see from my example of my 4th grade teacher, even something such as that incident can loom ever so large in the life of an aspiring musician! Hope you have many such positive moments!