When did you start playing and what made you start? I started playing on a hand-me-down classical around 6 years old. My older brother had an extra ticket to a Pat Metheny concert and asked me to tag along. After that the passion was there.
First guitar: Well, you know about the hand-me-down, but the first guitar my mom bought for me (after lots of begging & "please mom"s) was a Harmony electric guitar from Service Merchandise.
Early influences:I couldn't possibly stress enough how much the Moody Blues influenced me. Others commonly heard on my 33rpm player were the Grateful Dead, Ravi Shankar, Pat Metheny, Birds Of Fire, and Chick Corea.
Tell us about your early playing days. What motivated you? Did you have friends that played? I find that one of the best ways to learn is to jam with people that are way better than you. Did you do a lot of jamming when you first started?
I think my main motivation was inspired by a desire to make people feel as good as I did when I would listen sometimes to my favorite artists. I didn't have any friends my age who played, but was fortunate to have brothers willing to let me tag along with them to friends' houses and sit-in & observe their various jam sessions over the years. Most of these folks were all jazz & Deadheads, so there was open space for me to learn & express myself.
My first paying gig was as a fill-in guitarist for The Drifters. I lived next door to a drummer, who at the time played for the band Delite (Groove Is In The Heart). He connected me with that gig. I was 17. It was an eye opener of a gig, that's for sure. These guys were pros – no drinking before the gig and all that. I had one day to learn the entire set, and 15 minutes before the gig I was told I would need to improv with the band for 45 minutes before the Drifters went on. The old cliche "baptism of fire" would fit nicely to describe that experience.
Acoustic guitars you own: Larrivee OM02, custom Paragon GOM (grand OM)
Favorite guitar: My little cheapy OM02 is just so great. I had many of the specs on the Paragon designed to be similar to the OM02, so between the two guitars I think they both serve me just as well.
Your style and how you developed it:
When I get booked for a gig, most times the promoter will ask me to describe my music. In an attempt to be both clever and close to the mark, I've made up my own genre : new-folk / blue-age. I play with my finger nails and do a little slappin' here and a little slappin' there. I guess you could say my playing developed through lots of improvising, and listening to favorite artists like Jerry Garcia & Michael Hedges
Practice regimen:I probably log in about 2-3 hours a day of playing.
Favorite Artist(s): Michael Hedges, Peter Gabriel, Moody Blues, Bruce Cockburn, Grateful Dead, David Crosby, Aaron Neville, Carlos Nakai, Pat Metheny, Robbie Robertson, and so many more.
As a professional, any words of wisdom: Hmmm... I can tell you what I've done, and perhaps how I approach performing, and you can take from it what you will.
I've come to know, in my life, that what works best for me is doing the music I enjoy most in a way that I enjoy doing it at any given moment. When I perform, I try to give 100% of myself, but it has to be from something that is important to me. As Mike Pinder said "giving without measure gives in return..." I think it's always best to err on the side of giving more than I take. Living up to that is the challenge. But music for me has always meant a place that the human spirit can be restored, and I wouldn't want to contribute to lessoning the value of that sacred well.
Anything else you would like us to know about you and/or your views on the music industry in general?
Music as an industry? Hmmm… well, we all gotta eat. Go figure!
Check out Tony's website.