I Love Electric Guitar

SCCA Praise Concert, 2006

It all began before I was a teen.  My preacher and his daughter were taking guitar lessons and I thought that was pretty neat.  Therefore, I wanted to play guitar too.  Dad had a 1953 Martin 00-17 that he never learned to play on.  Because I wanted it so badly, Mom and Dad took me to the music store in Kokomo (Indiana) where he had bought the Martin and bought me a Winston beginner’s guitar.  A little 6-string acoustic flat-top that had a sunburst paint scheme.  Red blending to black along the edges.

I didn’t have lessons.  I may be a self-starter, but at that point, I didn’t know where to start.  So other than banging on the strings, not having learned anything about playing, it pretty much stayed shoved under my bed.

Then . . . Ralph Trotto came to town.  Ralph was from the southeast portion of Indiana.  His fame is pretty much reserved to the churches he played in and having taught the Memphis blues man Lonnie Mack some of his first guitar chords.  Ralph Trotto was blind which was cool in its own right.  He played a big-box Gibson electric (like a Byrdland or Super 400 or something) into a Fender Twin amplifier.  His voice was big and booming and that’s how he played guitar.  I was hooked.  I wanted it.

Malachi and me

Before I was allowed to take guitar lessons, my folks had me take piano lessons so that I could “learn music.”  I had about three years of piano.  I learned notes and my ear got trained to harmony.  I would practice the piece my teacher gave me that week, fumbling through until I had it memorized and played it back for her, without reading the music, but appearing too.  I didn’t become a pianist like my brothers and sister.

During this time, I attended a youth rally hosted by a Christian Church in Carmel, Indiana.  It was held in the auditorium of the Carmel High School.  They had a band, a Christian band, the first I’d ever seen or heard of.  But it was a Christian rock band and whoever the guy was playing the guitar, her was playing a red Gibson SG.  I was hooked.  That is still my “dream guitar.”  In fact, the best guitar I have ever played was a 1961 Gibson SG in mint condition.  My friend Marty had it.  His grandma had bought it new in ’61 and played it for 30 plus years and there wasn’t a single scratch on it.  If it had all the original tags ( it had some of them), it would have been dead mint.

One of the world's most famouse SG's

I pressed my folks to let me take guitar lessons.  By the summer of 1977 I was taking lessons.  I bought an Alvarez 5022 acoustic flat-top guitar for $90 (half price sale)  and took lessons from a Jazz musician by the name of Malcom Bender.

When the cost per lesson went up 33% ($3 to $4 a lesson), we couldn’t afford to keep them up and so my friend Jim taught me.  We wrote a song or two together, and played them at church.

The first real song I learned, besides the basic music lesson songs, like Michael Row the Boat Ashore and stuff like that was Three Dog Night’s “Old Fashioned Love Song.”

[Kind of a goofy performance isn’t it?]

I’ve been hooked ever since.  I’ve mostly learned on my own ever since, but I’ve played for 32 years now.  Not as good as someone who has played that long, but I enjoy playing.

I’ve owned and played Les Paul’s, Stratocasters, Telecasters, Ovation electrics and acoustics, Hamer, Aria, and more.  I’ve played hundreds and hundreds of guitars in music stores, pawn shops, churches, bars, living rooms and who knows where.

Give me an electric and I’m comfortable.  I’ll even sing with one strapped on my shoulders.  I feel as though the guitar is an extension

Playing a parts guitar (Telecaster copy) before work in 1987

of myself and play it like it is a part of me.  I love the expressive abilities of the guitar.  I love the variety of styles that can be played with the guitar.  I love to rock and nothing will rock like a Les Paul.

I really could go on and on about guitar and the electric in particular.

“I love guitar.”  You can quote me on that too.  I am not ashamed of the fact that I love guitar.  I have been inspired by many players, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Phil Keaggy, Bob Wall, Ron Salisberry, Mike Baer, Santana, Les Paul and I can go on forever about my influences.

Guitar is important to me because I can be expressive in ways I might not be able to otherwise, plus, having an awesome looking guitar slung over your shoulders is pretty cool.

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Playing bass for "Wednesday Night Live"

Exploring Passion

This is one of the guitars I love. I could go on endlessly about it. Do I have the same type or rather, a greater passion for Christ?

I have been in love with guitars since I was about 9 or 10 years old.  And I fell in love with the electric guitar a couple of years later.  I must admit I am passionate about guitars.

I could tell you how great they are and how guitars are the most expressive instruments there are after the violin and that might be questionable depending on the artist (eg, listen to Gary Moore play “Still Got the Blues,” or “The Messiah Will Come Again.”  Check him out on YouTube,  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4O_YMLDvvnw and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9ruYs7Xxhg

I could relate to you how I fell in love with the guitar and the electric guitar in particular (that involves hearing Ralph Trotto and a couple of years later seeing a Red Gibson SG played at a youth rally in Carmel, Indiana in 1972 or 73).

I could share with you how the Les Paul/SG style guitars are the best, bar none (whether made by Gibson or similar types by Heritage, Paul Reed Smith, Carvin, Hamer and others).

I love guitar and I love guitar music and I could go and on and on.  Don’t leave me yet.  I have more and it’s better, I promise.

I could go on endlessly about my grand-children, or missionary son, or my 30 year marriage, or preaching, or my favorite sports and sports teams and individuals, or summer church camp, etc, etc.  I could go on and on and on with a lot of different things that I am passionate about.

But why is it, and I am guilty of this also, why is it, that the one thing, that Jesus considered the most important thing is for the most part, the least important thing and the one thing that possesses the least amount of passion for many Christians, and that is (we need an echo chamber here for emphasis), EVANGELSIM…LISM…Ism…sm…m!”  The echo really adds emphasis doesn’t it…LOL!

Where’s your passion, Christians?

Do you remember this?  Watch the video.

Instead of Clara hollering, “Where’s the beef?”  Imagine someone who is not yet a believer and follower of Christ crying, “Where’s the passion?”  There are a lot of people that do not respect Christians and are not listening to our message for a number of reasons.  One of the most significant reasons is that we don’t seem to have passion about Christ and the Church and Christianity.

If you think I mean by passion, a super- expressive way of presenting a message or making a point, like some preachers, or exciting speakers, well, that’s not necessarily what I mean.  A lot of people are not that way, don’t have expressive manners.  Passion may not be extreme emotional expression.  But it is a fire with in you.  Is Jesus everything to you?

I know there’s a lot here, but this IS important.  Read, or reread this post from 11/22/2009, and return for more;  https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2009/11/22/531/

Your passion is what you put your heart and soul into.  It’s not that when I do something, I do it all the way, or I put my best into it.  I do a job and I put my best into it, not because I am passionate about the job and the work involved, but because as a follower of Christ, I put my best into everything I do.  Jesus said, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be,” Matthew 6:21 NLT http://www.youversion.com/bible/asv/matt/6/21).

Whatever is important to you, whatever has captured the desire of your heart, you’re going to invest in.  I love guitar and invest a lot of time, effort, and money into it.  I have a treasure there (I do have to guard it to keep it from becoming more important than Christ, Church, family, etc, so that it does not become idolatry.  Priorities you know).  What about my passion for Christ?  What have I invested?  The question begs to be asked, how do I come to have a passion for my Savior?  More than gratefulness, but that I want to invest my life into Jesus Christ.

Let me help you with that very quickly.

1st – Let Christ build that desire in you.  The Bible is where you get to know Christ and the primary source for building your relationship with him.  Live in the Gospels for a while.  A month, a year, several years.  Search out who Jesus is and how Jesus relates to you and is in your life.  As I’ve heard said from pulpits and Bible classrooms, “Fall in love with Jesus.”

2nd – Get to know Jesus through the lives of faithful Christians.  Listen to their testimonies, talk with them about their relationship with Christ and learn how it is applied in their lives.  You will probably pick up a dimension or two that you hadn’t figured until you see it lived out or hear about.  Also, read or listen to testimonies (here is one source for these types of testimonies; http://shareyourstorynow.org/).  Learn from others.  Maybe their fire (passion) for Christ will ignite yours.

3rd – Pray about it.  Ask God to fill you up with that passion.  It’s simple.  Ask in your words.  Talk to God believing and expecting, but don’t put any conditions on your request or develop the way you expect it to happen.  Let God do it.  God will answer and fulfill your request in his way, according to his time, and the way that is best.

4th – Begin to serve and follow and do the things of Christ.  Help the needy.  Go on a missions trip to serve the lost.  Be a servant in your church.  The possibilities are endless here.  Read Matthew 25:31-46 about the Sheep and the Goats, http://www.youversion.com/bible/asv/luke/2/1-10

Bye for now.  May the fire for Christ burn deep and long and hot in your life.  That is my prayer for all of us.

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