TAC Spotlight: Maggie!

The TAC Spotlight is a weekly focus on members of Tony’s Acoustic Challenge who have posted at least one performance on the forums and are especially active in the community by showing exemplary support or inspiration for other TAC members. All TAC Spotlight featured members are nominated by other TAC members.

The ULTIMATE Guitar Practice Routine

Just show up every day, and I'll tell you what to play!

If you’d like to nominate someone to be honored with a TAC Spotlight feature, please submit your nominee here.

Say hi to Maggie!



# of Years Played

about 4

Favorite three bands

Doc Watson, Crooked Still, Simon and Garfunkle, The Beatles, The Avett Brothers, (I was not a math major)

How many guitars to you currently own?

Two – a Goya G215 and my Martin D35 Seth Avett

Tell us the story of your first open mic…

It was a process to even make it to my first open mic – originally, I had settled on a little coffee shop open mic that was down the road from my house.  It had a great atmosphere (not to mention great coffee!) and I finally got up the nerve to get out there and seemingly at that exact moment, they shut the whole thing down and stopped holding open mics!  So I had to do some research to find another one – I went one night with no intention of performing… just to sit and listen, get a gauge for the atmosphere, etc…  and it was great… so I decided to go back the following week for my big debut 😉  

Let me emphasize the fact that I was extremely nervous and walking into that building with my guitar in hand was a practice in discipline because all I wanted to do was get back in my car and go home… all sorts of thoughts went through my mind – what is a mom of 4 kids doing here, someone who has never played music for anyone but her children (and the TAC gang ;))… somebody, who practically nobody in her life (again, except my TAC buddies) even knows she plays guitar… what was I doing here at 8pm on a school night?  lol.  

So I walk in and immediately realize that something is off because the place is packed with high school/college aged kids and music is blaring from a (very talented) latin hip hop band on stage that had apparently been booked at the last minute and the open mic had been cancelled.  It’s an understatement to say that I looked more than just a little out of place.  

Before I had a chance to run away, I was spotted by the guy who usually hosts the open mic and we were both forced into an awkward conversation about how he felt so bad that I came all the way out there… anyway, long story short… it was yet another reason why I could have given up 🙂  But I didn’t!  And with the encouragement of everyone here at TAC, several weeks later (after recovering from a random concussion that kept me away even longer), I ended up finally making it to the open mic and playing two songs – If I Needed You (Townes VanZandt) and Jolene (Dolly Parton) – I was very warmly received and felt so much support and encouragement from everyone there!  

I know I ramble, but I wanted to emphasize the whole perseverance thing for anyone thinking about doing an open mic as well 😉

I now have been going to the same open mic just about every week for the past several months, and have also visited 2 other open mic nights at local coffee houses.  It’s so nice to be a part of that community – there is a lot of collaboration going on – both informally/spontaneously, and more formally between myself and the host (the one I mentioned earlier with the awkward conversation, lol).  

We are going to be doing some recording together on his new album and also on my debut album, which unbelievably, is now in the works!  I also am playing my first show this weekend!  So much has happened in so short a time and I owe a lot of it to the support and encouragement I have received from the TAC gang 🙂

What’s the one thing you’d tell other TAC members who don’t think they’d be good at writing songs?

You don’t have to be a musical genius or capable of impressive guitar licks to create something that people might enjoy listening to.  A few simple chords and genuine emotion (with or without lyrics – same goes for instrumental pieces) is all it often takes to touch people and to have them connect in some way to what you’ve created.  Of course we are all here to improve at guitar, and it certainly is awesome to be able to learn and play great guitar with the help of Tony and his crew, but I think that the real connection people have with music is emotional first.  Keep it genuine 🙂

Why is it important for you to improve at guitar?

Playing guitar is something that I really enjoy and get a lot of fulfillment from… I think it’s important to strive to be the best we can be at those things we are passionate about.

Why are you an active TAC member? 

Not only do I love the content and layout as far as lessons go, but I just love the community that has developed here.  People are so incredibly supportive and encouraging of everyone’s efforts and it’s just a great thing to be a part of!

What convinced you to submit your first performance video?

It didn’t take long to realize that this was a safe place to allow myself to be a little vulnerable and to take a risk and share some music.  I think my first video was Freight Train – I saw how others were posting videos and getting such supportive responses, so I thought I’d give it a shot as well 🙂  

What else would be cool for people to know about you?

I have 4 kids, am a biologist by trade, was a swimmer and All American water polo player in college, and I used to live in a funeral home…  and I used to be a zookeeper.


  1. Profile photo of simon thorpe
    simon thorpe

    Maggie,the songs you have written are wonderful,such beautiful lyrics,haunting and memorable,but also comforting,and familiar,like a hug from a loved one!and that is a good thing,it is a gift you have to make another person feel all this from your songs.I sincerely hope you get everything you want from the music you make,and wish you all the best.

    1. Profile photo of Maggie

      Thank you so much, Simon <3 Such touching and humbling words – I appreciate you taking the time to write them out 🙂

  2. Profile photo of Emma S
    Emma S

    Hi Maggie, congratulations. Beautiful haunting song. Is your song available to buy? I would gladly pay for a copy. Wishing you all the best with your album.

    1. Profile photo of Maggie

      Hi Emma! Thank you so much 🙂 I am actually in the beginning process of recording so hopefully I will have something soon!

  3. Profile photo of David W
    David W

    Congratulations, Maggie, you thoroughly deserve this TAC Spotlight! I always enjoy listening to your performances – especially your own songs. Keep it up! 🙂

  4. Profile photo of Charles B
    Charles B

    Thanks for sharing your story, a zookeeper? cool job.You have a lot charisma Maggie when I hear you play and sing, guitar charisma!Years ago I met a person named Sam Maloof this is when I first really met someone that had charisma, when you play I feel the same thing as when Sam was talking about his passion. Thank you for sharing your passion with us!

  5. Profile photo of Bradley A
    Bradley A

    It was very nice to hear a little bit of the rest of the story on the journey to performing live. I caught some of the open mic story as it was posted piece by piece, but I really enjoyed reading it all in one place here. Rambling is just fine, ramble on…! Also, I hadn’t listened to that song for a while, and it was nice to listen while reading. Thanks for all you have contributed to the site. Your music, humor, and encouraging posts have done a lot to make TAC a great community. Congrats on everything! And that album is gonna be fabulous!

    1. Profile photo of Maggie

      Thanks, Bradley! And don’t worry – I will continue to ramble on… rambling is one of my strong suits 😉

  6. Profile photo of Marcus Nye
    Marcus Nye

    Congrats on the spotlight Maggie. Really great inspiring read from a brilliant authentic songwriter. Being a mum to 4 kids though wow you must be one busy girl (2 keeps me on my Toes none stop). Keep up the great songwriting. Marcus.

  7. Profile photo of Michael D
    Michael D

    Congratulations on the spotlight 🙂 Truly enjoy every time you post, and the story is fantastic. Interesting note, you are not the only guitar slingin’, singing biology background. My brother-in-law, one of the best guitar players and singers no one knows about, is a biology teacher. You would smoke him in water polo 😉 Great story, and you are one of the folks that help make this community great. So cograts and you certainly deserve the spotlight.

      1. Profile photo of Maggie

        Thank you so much, Michael! Glad I’m not the only guitar slingin’ biologist 🙂 Your brother-in-law should come to the TAC retreat when that eventually happens! We can nerd out together 🙂

  8. Profile photo of Tony P
    Tony P


    A huge congratulations on your spotlight and a big thank you for sharing your original music with all of us!!! Your playing is really outstanding and your lyrics are awesome, but most of all, as a viewer, you can see how into the song you are, and for that I applaud you. You always lead with your heart and the results are clear as a bell. Keep up the fantastic work, and if you are taking preorders for your album, put me on the list and tell me where to send the check 🙂

    I loved your story about perseverance and your first open mic, a great share and kudos to you for staying with it.

    Thank you so much for being a part of this online world and sharing your gifts with us all 🙂


    1. Profile photo of Maggie

      Thank you so much for everything, Tony! You’ve created such a special place here – we are all grateful for all of your hard work! And I know I’ve said this before somewhere on the forums but in case you didn’t see it – I really, really love your music. Rusty’s on repeat is often the soundtrack to my day 🙂 That song needs to be longer 😉

      1. Profile photo of Tony P
        Tony P


        Thank you for your kind words!!! Before I left town I was playing some dobro to your new song… it really is a beautiful tune!!! I will work on a Rusty’s part 2 🙂


  9. Profile photo of Lynne R
    Lynne R

    Congrads Maggie!! You are an accomplished young lady with many talents and many wonderful musical years ahead of you. Enjoy them to the fullest and live out your dreams!

  10. Roger Lore

    Ditto Scott D’s comment on your music and voice. Always enjoy listening to your posts. You got me onto Seth Avett!
    But I really perked up when you mentioned you played Waterpolo. I have a kinship toward fellow Waterpolo players. Long since retired from it but enjoy watching a good match.
    Good luck and have fun with the recording thing.

    1. Profile photo of Maggie

      !!!!! A fellow water polo player?! And Seth Avett fan?! Very cool! Where did you play?

      1. Profile photo of Roger L
        Roger L

        I played in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. We were national champs for 4 years straight. Lost track of most of the team due to career moves until one of the guys assembled us to play in the Masters Fina games in Palo Alto about 10 years ago. It was a fantastic reunion!
        The Seth Avett, Live and Die song you posted I liked so much I had to learn it.

  11. Profile photo of Scott D
    Scott D

    WOW! Great story, great song, great guitar playing and a wonderful voice! I could listen to you all day. You have that soothing, haunting, longing, peaceful tone that allows you to display lots of emotions at one time. Your kids are going to share memories of their Mom singing for the rest of their lives! Congratulations!!

  12. Profile photo of Maggie

    Dom… I tried replying to this yesterday but got stuck and couldn’t think of any words that were good enough. Still can’t think of any so will just say that I love our friendship (and you! And Sharon!) and you are the coolest 🙂 lol.


    1. Profile photo of Maggie

      lol.. technical difficulties. I think I posted this more than just a couple of times… it is now where it is supposed to be and also in a few other places. I forgot to add on my spotlight answers that I was technologically challenged.

  13. Profile photo of Tony M
    Tony M

    How cool can you get Maggie? Not only are you Biologist, but a Water Polo player who has Zoo kept and has chops to boot! Geez Louise girl. You have a talented Blessed life! And, I don’t know if you noticed but you are also the only member who’s name was followed by an Exclamation Point!!!! It’s been a pleasure getting to know you through my computer screen and listening to you grow as a guitar player. I hope to meet you soon at one of the open mic’s.

    1. Profile photo of Maggie

      lol.. thanks, Tony! I can’t wait to meet you as well – you better get to open mic soon!!! 🙂

  14. Profile photo of Adolf Martin W
    Adolf Martin W

    Hi Maggie, also congratulations from my side. You already know how much I like your music, your voice and especially the atmosphere you create when singing. No wonder your open mic performances are so well received! And probably soon also your album! 🙂 .

    I would like to here again fully agree with and underline what you say in your spotlight text – it’s so true:
    “… it certainly is awesome to be able to learn and play great guitar with the help of Tony and his crew, but I think that the real connection people have with music is emotional first. Keep it genuine 🙂 “

    1. Profile photo of Maggie

      Thank you so much, Adolf! (guitar twin! 🙂 – Love the fact that we have the same beautiful guitar!)

  15. Profile photo of DeeDee L
    DeeDee L

    Hi Maggie!
    Congratulations on the spot light (much deserved) and your debut album

    1. Profile photo of Maggie

      Thanks, Darleen! And to answer your question – now that all my kids are in school for at least a couple of hours every day, I do get more time for guitar (after laundry and everything else at least ;))… but I also make time – bath time is a big one where I’ve got the littles contained and I force them to listen to me play, lol… sometimes they get really wrinkly because I try to keep them in there as long as possible to give me more time to practice 🙂

  16. Donald Littlejones

    Hi Maggie and congratulations. I would like to add that your generosity ,talent and hard work is affecting all of us. It is thanks to you that I actually got my first posting on the Stage, last winter. As an old guy that has not kept up with technology, I could not get my first posting on. Thanks to your advice it happened. Like you said…getting past those firsts is a challenge and I thank you for your help in getting past one of mine. Please continue to privelege us with your voice and music and good ” vibes ” for your first album.

    1. Profile photo of Maggie

      Aww – Donald, thanks so much… I’m so happy to know that I had a hand in getting that first post up and running!! So awesome. Thanks for your kind words 🙂

  17. Profile photo of John Bell
    John Bell

    Maggie,it’s GREAT you’re in the TAC Spotlight,enjoy!! Best Wishes!!!

    John B.

  18. Profile photo of Dru

    Awesome story, Maggie, and you are an awesome human. I think that things are coming together for you so quickly because it’s right, that you have a special talent the world needs. Keep playing for us here and everywhere! And geez, those are some four lucky kids to have such a cool mom! We should have a party for your first release. That would be very cool.

    1. Profile photo of Maggie

      ha! My kids might disagree about the cool thing, but I’ll take it 😉 Thanks so much, Dru! I’d totally be into a party!!

  19. Profile photo of jumpin' jeff s
    jumpin' jeff s

    Maggie it is truly a pleasure to hear you sing. No wonder you are so wise: you were a zookeeper. Your music is magical and your descriptions of yourself and your work are so right on. This shows in your music and it is the wonderful quality I see in your performances, Thanks for being here at TAC keeping it genuine.

    1. Profile photo of Maggie

      haha – zookeeper wisdom! Seriously though – thanks so much for all of your support and encouragement, Jeff – you are the best!! 🙂

  20. Profile photo of Mackeye


    you total deserve the good will everyone is posting. You were one of the first to comment on my first posting and I appreciated your support. Wish you all the best and hope you never stop playing for us.


    1. Profile photo of Maggie

      Aww – I do my best to try and give the same love and support that I have received to others here at TAC – it’s such an awesome place! Thanks for reading my long ramble and taking the time to comment, Mackeye 🙂

  21. Profile photo of Heidi H
    Heidi H

    LOVED your song.. everything about it! 😀 It immediately felt like an old friend, and the tune and lyrics kept playing in my head as I went about my chores. VERY rare that a song by ANY artist does that for me! 😀 Way to go, and thanks so much for sharing! 😀

    1. Profile photo of Maggie

      Heidi – thank you so much for listening 🙂 I’m glad you liked the song – hopefully it doesn’t stick in your head for too long and start to annoy you though 😉

  22. Profile photo of Steve H
    Steve H

    Love the story of your first open mic Maggie. You’re a brave one, that’s for sure!
    We’re lucky to have you post your stuff here, especially the experiments and new songs which are fascinating and inspiring in equal measure.
    Can’t wait to buy your album!

    1. Profile photo of Maggie

      Steve.. thanks so much – that story was long and rambling, but I guess so was the process getting to an open mic in the first place 😉 I’m glad you appreciated it 🙂

  23. Profile photo of 1973.

    Thanks for sharing your story and your music. It’sradicallyawesomeandIcouldlistentoitallday… hahahaha…. No seriously, I could… Wait, I actually have…

    1. Profile photo of Maggie

      Trace – you are totally incredistupendouslysupertastic. (you are better at that than I am but I try!!)

  24. Profile photo of X

    Yeah Maggie! Congrats! It’s very cool to read what you wrote — I was a swimmer in college too a very long time ago, but water polo was too rough for me. I think with all those cool things, you can come up with an amazing inter-song banter to have with the audience at your performances. Like the zookeeper one — I have never met someone who did that before. But you must have done something as a child that helped your musical development, right? It’s been so great to see your musical growth, and to have your encouragement for mine along the way. I’m so looking forward to seeing where your journey takes you! Keep playing for us please!

    1. Profile photo of X

      Oh, and I’ve been wondering where your determination and grit come from – All American water polo player! That is a tough sport. Then there’s the whole raising 4 children thing…. 🙂 Make sure you tell us when your EP comes out — I want to buy one!

      1. Profile photo of Maggie

        Oh, Mark – one of the true backbones of this community. You are very special – thanks for always being so supportive and for taking the time to read my long rambling answers, lol. I love the fact that you were a fellow swimmer! No wonder we get along so well 🙂

  25. Profile photo of Dom T
    Dom T

    I have said many things about you in this land of TAC, so everyone, even those under a rock, knows how I feel about you and your amazing talent. What others probably believe, but I am fortunate enough to know for sure, is that you are an incredible, kind, loving human being. Oh, who happens to be an awesome musician. So very very proud of you and what is happening to you, and that the world is now starting to become a better place, knowing your music. Congratulation Maggie. Forever my friend, and my Kiddo. 😉

    1. Profile photo of Maggie

      Dom… I tried replying to this yesterday but got stuck and couldn’t think of any words that were good enough. Still can’t think of any so will just say that I love our friendship (and you! And Sharon!) and you are the coolest 🙂 lol.


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