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Influence. It all starts with something that stirs the soul. I'll start with my own story and invite Ron to tell his. I can recall the first song (out of church) that really stuck with me. I was maybe 11 and the sounds over our little AM radio in the kitchen rang Charlie Rich's "The Most Beautiful Girl". I can sing all the lyrics to this very day. From there I was in a sea of music from the Allman Brothers Band "Ramblin' Man" to Don McLean's "American Pie" and on and on from there. I immersed myself in all the parts of these songs, learning (in my head) the bass lines, drum lines, vocal harmonies. I found had a natural talent for dissecting each song quite easily and from there, would truly begin to learn how to play each of the parts I heard. My first guitar was my sister's Sears Encore guitar with action that was like no other. Likely a full inch or more. Great way to learn because it required a lot of work to get a single note out. I didn't have a lesson or a book to guide, just my ears and memory of melody line.

It wasn't until I was maybe 12 or so that I had access to a legit guitar - an Aria Super Pro Jazz that my grandmother had. Yep, my grandmother had an interest in learning guitar and so they purchased this double humbucker with a spring tremolo and a small amp. "Smoke On The Water" was song number 1 on that baby. I actually still have that beautiful guitar. (picture below)

Move forward and the next guitar I was given as a Christmas gift was a Takamine classical guitar. Beautiful sounds and the perfect spring board for perfecting my skills. And...I still have that guitar in my bevy of stringed instruments. Again, no lessons but several song books by Jim Croce and John Denver to name a couple.

So where do my roots come from? In the midst of all this my incredible parents exposed us kids to all sorts of music from jazz to blues to classical music to country. We would go to bed each night listening to albums of literally anything popular in the 60's and 70's. So while learning "Smoke On The Water" and "Ramblin Man" I was listening to Nat King Cole and 5th Dimension. And then, of course, I was deeply embedded in Christian music of which I ultimately made a career sharing the Gospel nationally and internationally for over a decade.

My advice: expose yourself and your kids to as wide a variety of music as possible. Just make sure it's music with melody and meter. It'll nourish your roots.

Okay's your turn. :)

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