Rich's Musical History
Love at First Sight- That year for my 13th birthday, my folks bought me a mahogany Favilla classical guitar which I fell immediately in love with. By then I was a subscriber to the folk magazine, Sing Out, and was learning how to do fingerpicking styles. I forgot to mention that the guitar I learned on was a tenor guitar and only had 4 strings so the move up to 6 strings was a real challenge. Soon enough I was playing all the Peter, Paul and Mary tunes and Bob Dylan and Tom Paxton etc. from that whole sixties folk scene. A trip to the Newport Folk Festival and outings to New York City's Greenwich village for concerts at the folk clubs became a regular part of my growing up. I remember being influenced very heavily by my bunk camp counselor, Peter, at a summer camp in the Berkshires called Camp Oleana, that my parents were also counselors at. He was a great folk guitarist and taught me a lot of new fingerpicking styles, especially more ragtimey stuff.

Around age 16, I started taking classical guitar lessons from a teacher named Andy, who also played jazz. He quickly discovered that classical was not my forte and started me on jazz guitar, which he also taught. Problem was, I never practiced the lessons and was forever trying to reinvent the melody or play harmony. By the time I was sixteen, I had acquired a Hagstrom electric guitar and was starting to play a bit of rock and roll. I soon hooked up with a group from another town on the Island and started playing more of a motown repertoire. I was the rhythm guitarist. The group was called The 4 Escorts. When we first started, I was the only white guy but we eventually got a bass player who was also white. Our lead singer, Butch, was famous for doing splits while he sang. I played with them for a couple of years but then our family moved across the Island and I lost touch with them. By this time, I had sold the Hagstrom to our lead guitarist and picked up a Les Paul solid body. I played with some local guys I met at my new high school but nothing ever came together like the 4 Escorts. Pretty soon college years rolled around and I became infatuated by the acid-rock groups like The Grateful Dead, The Jefferson Airplane, The Doors and so many great bands I can't remember them all. I had also learned blues harmonica and was fond of humorously annoying my friends by playing the Frank Zappa tune, Claredoon, over and over again between blues licks. Oh, did I mention that I didn't make it past the first year of college (Grinnell College, Iowa), what with getting stoned, listening to Led Zeppelin etc lying on the floor with the stereo turned to full volume, the speakers on either side of my head, and playing pool and ping-pong in my spare time. Not to mention the all night bridge games. At this point, I was doing more listening than playing although trying to imitate Jerry Garcia and Jorma Kaukonen. It wasn't until I saw Hot Tuna and saw Jorma play and saw the size of Jorma's hands that I understood why I was having so much trouble trying to play the fingerpicking licks he was doing. His hands were enormous!

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