How I became an Acoustic Singer in the UK part 2
Well hello there, you came back! Or maybe you didn't and this is the first of my blogs you have read, in which case that introductory line was as misplaced as the time I accidentally called my year 2 teacher Dad. To which he sullenly replied, "I'm definitely NOT your dad".
Anyhoo, where were we? Oh yes I was regaling you with my journey to becoming an acoustic singer in the UK. And what a ripping yarn it has been so far! If you missed part 1, don't shed a tear, just use the archive and find it ;)
So having now got my first acoustic guitar using the reluctant parting of money from my father, it was now time to face the music. Literally. Trouble was, I had no idea how to play as an acoustic singer or read music.
Luckily my BFF and future bandmate Jed was getting lessons from a local guy and I was about to piggy back the crap out of it.
The roads to guitarist glory are many and the stories stretch tall and thin about how legendary virtuosos came to hold so much mojo when it comes to playing the axe. Some are self taught like they were raised by wolves, some learn from wizened gurus in the Himalayan mountains, and some... nay...most, have lessons.
Now, regardless of your budget, location, and persuasion, music lessons can be a really awkward thing. When you are starting out and every note you play could make a monk wince, it's really difficult to sit there with someone who can obviously play a hell of a lot better than you, and have them patiently look on trying not to grimace as you butcher the riff from "Smoke on the Water".
The teacher Jed was using was pretty laid back, and was pretty good at getting him up to scratch. So I spent the first few weeks and months learning what Jed had learned in his lessons from Jed himself, sometime only an hour after he had attended. This was not an unusual thing for me and Jed, I was always borrowing his stuff, especially CDs. So much so that when we were teenagers, he had to implement a waiting period on any new album he bought before I could burn it (yes kids, we used to burn CDs and it's not as destructive as it sounds).
So once Jed had taught me some of the fundamentals, I bit the bullet and got lessons...from the same guy. Who was unsurprisingly impressed when I managed to blast through his initial lessons like I was a hustler.
I took lessons for a year, mostly learning punk, rock, and metal with the odd bit of classical acoustic leaning when it happened to be in a heavier song. Such as the beautiful riff in Ozzy Osbourne's "Mama I'm Coming Home". After a year I decided to fly solo and learn from what is called Tabs.
Tablature is a way of reading music for people who can't read sheet music. I'm one such acoustic singer, and I feel no shame. Music has never been about skill with me. As so many of my harshest critics take great pains to remind me.
Leave a comment if you know what famous intro this is for.
Once I was able to learn a song using tabs, the whole world of music opened up to me like an oyster-shaped treble clef. I could play all my favourite songs and even think about...performing.
Come back next time for the next installment where I talk about my early performances. Anecdotes which include an oasis cover being mistaken for a children's television show theme tune, and a guitar solo where I ended up looking like Jack Black from School of Rock...in a very bad way.
Above: watch my acoustic cover of "Atlantic City" by Bruce Springsteen.