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 Sean!
From the Chicago Metro area. Currently in Syracuse, NY
# of Years Played
Favorite Three Bands
Rolling Stones before about 1983, I used to want to grow up to be Keith Richards,
Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives, they are the best live band in the world, absolutely SICK. When people ask how good I want to be ( I should live so long), I point them to the Fabulous Superlatives.
7th Heaven, they are a local Chicago cover band but they work 200+ shows a year and gross a million plus $$/year locally! They are my friends and are an example of what you can do if you work long, hard, and smart. I’ve known them since the Thirsty Whale days.
How many guitars do you currently own?
Currently 9, I may let a few go to finance a D-28 37A
1983 52RI Telecaster, my main electric, owned since new
1957 Les Paul JR., owned since 1988, my other main guitar depending on the gig
1988 PRS CU24
2014 PRS 408 standard
1988 Martin D-18, owned since new
2015 Martin HD-28E Retro
Martin backpacker (secret weapon for faux dobro and recording)
Fender Jazz Bass
Why is it important for you to improve at guitar?
It’s what I do. Making music and making love are about all I’ve ever wanted to do. I had a big money IT job at AT&T for a while. All I thought about was getting out and to the gigs at night. I’m never going back. If I can’t work in music, I will starve. You can play music almost until you die. I plan to go out like Les Paul.
Why are you an active TAC member?
I sort of impulse joined after watching some of Tony’s Acoustic Letter videos. I wanted to know what those songs were that he was always playing and I thought it would be funny to learn them and play them at some of the jams around here. Also, my knowledge and skill in hard core acoustic styles is lacking, so I want to improve at that. After a few weeks I joined for a year through the special offer that came around. There are nice people here and it’s opened my eyes to a bunch of things. I’ve kind of set the goal of getting some of these flat picking songs down and then finding Tony and jamming with him. Seems like kind of a funny goal, you know, “Really?! You got to jam with the guy from those videos?”
What convinced you to submit your first performance video?
I think I did 3 videos in the first 2 days I joined the site. That was what the site said to do, that was what I did. You know, when in Rome. Then I wanted to make it into that top 250 list.
Recording and “video-ing” yourself are some of the best ways to improve. So as painful as it is, I do it a lot. Man, I am UGLY in those webcam videos of myself !
Tell us the story of your first open mic?
My first open mic story is a little different than most peoples. I had puttered about with guitar since I was a tot. My whole family is musical. So I’d sort of dabbled a little for as long as I could remember. I always wanted to play but could never figure out why the guys on the radio sounded cool and I sounded like a Mel Bay big note song book. At 14 another neighborhood kid showed me a bar chord and how to play “Living After Midnight” by Judas Priest. It was like being hit by lightning!!! After that day, I did NOTHING but play guitar. I quit soccer, BMX, doing school work, friends; nothing but guitar. By 16 I did some paying gigs, at 18 I was working full time in a 100+ show/year band.
So…I was pretty well formed by the time I did my first open mic at 20 at Kingston Mines, which is a well-known blues bar in Chicago. I planned and practiced for weeks. The place was rotten with rock guys and such, playing pointy 80’s guitars. No one was prepared and no one really sang, or actually played blues. Well I went up in a suit and a tie, with my Telecaster. I plugged into a big old white Twin. I told Jimmy Dawkins to stand back and I blasted into “Eyesight To The Blind” with the full BB King intro, the band was hip and fell right in. Enormous cajones for a little white kid from the suburbs. I still remember Jimmy Dawkins yelling SH*T, and almost falling over laughing, he was jumping up and down as we played, we actually wound up trading licks!!. I also played “A Good Fool Is Hard To Find” by Albert Collins and “Pistol In Your Mouth” by Tampa Red. Jimmy Dawkins shook my hand and said I should stick around and play the late jam with them. At that time Kingston Mines had an early jam for the civilians and a late jam for the pros. A lot of those guys were like the back-up musicians for the well-known band leaders in town. Amazing
My first open mic was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I love this stuff so much, I am literally sweating as I type this. I get so excited to this day by playing, or even talking about music.
The moral of this long story, is to be tuned up BEFORE you hit the stage, be prepared and try to seem confident. No matter your skill or experience level, everyone can be tuned and prepared. At some point you just have to do it but if you have the choice of doing it now, or doing it a few weeks later and really knowing your material. Wait and do it later, you will feel so much better about your experience. I promise.
What’s the one thing you’d tell other TAC members who don’t think they’d be good at writing songs?
How would you know if you’ll be good or not? Did John and Paul know when they started? Did Mick and Keith know? Did old Hank know? Gwen Stephani made millions singing B-A-N-A-N-A-S. Who’s to say what a “good” song is? If your song makes one person happy; if your song makes YOU happy, then it was worth it and it is a good song.
What else would be cool for people to know about you?
I am a pretty friendly guy and I am always willing to share whatever knowledge I might have. I currently work in the central New York area in a “new country band” called JD & Rollin’ South. I play most Sundays at an open jam at Kellish Hill Music Farm in Manlius, NY. I sometimes host their open mic on Thursday. I was, at one time, the #4 Illinois State and #37 ranked Air Hockey player in the world. (I use that bit of information to pick up chicks).