TAC Spotlight: Steve H.

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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 Steve H.!


Eaton Rapids, Michigan

# of Years Played

Like many TAC-ers I’ve come back to guitar after a long hiatus. I had an electric guitar in my teens which I sold in my 20’s when I realized I hadn’t played it in years.

After 20 years off in January I went to Elderly Instruments in Lansing with a friend who was buying a bass. I was hooked by the acoustic room and the enthusiasm of the people I met there. After I bought my Taylor 712ce in February 2015 I’ve been thrilled with my decision to take up playing again.

Favorite 3 Bands

Just 3? O.K.-The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Radiohead. (honorable mention- Tony Polecastro!) Most of the time I listen to classical music at work though. Lots of musical inspiration there.

How many guitars do you currently own?

Two, with a third on the way (sounding and feeling like an expectant father!).

Why is it important for you to improve at guitar?

Oscar Wilde said: Our ambition should be to rule ourselves, the true kingdom for each one of us; and true progress is to know more, and be more, and to do more.

I think we all enjoy the process of learning and improving. To be better than we were yesterday is spiritually fulfilling and inherently rewarding.

Aside from improvement, I think that something as visceral as guitar playing is a perfect antidote to modern life.

I spend most of the time staring at computer screens so picking up a beautiful piece of fragrant wood and steel (just smell it!), feeling its vibrations through my whole body, and having complete focus while practicing or during a song is akin to meditation.

Why are you an active TAC member?

1.) Community. I was skeptical at first as I assumed this would be like every other forum. A few hothead internet warriors flaming people from the safety of their homes. It’s nothing like that. It’s the most supportive place on the internet with genuine people trying to help each other improve.

2.) Obviously the lessons are excellent. Tony does a great job of breaking things down and Joel and Levi record them expertly.

3.) The monthly hangouts are great fun too. One of my first was Tony testing whiskey, something I never would have expected from a guitar teacher. I suspect it took him a few days to shake that session off!

What convinced you to submit your first performance video?

The lesson plan demanded it! I think the structure of the courses is excellent in that you don’t just learn to play the song for yourself, you have to show that you’ve learned it to a standard that you feel comfortable other people hearing. That really makes us try our best.

I never intended to play for anyone other than myself but this aspect of the program has encouraged me to play for family members and, maybe one day, others in a live setting too. For now, though, I’m happy posting here because the community is so supportive and I enjoy being part of the group as we share our progress.

Oh, and that little “earn bonus points” prompt brought out the competitor in me!

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

This is my favorite part of the Spotlight, getting to know my fellow TAC-ers. So I:

  • emigrated three years ago and swapped living on the River Mersey in Liverpool, UK for the Grand River in Michigan, USA. (I like being by water!)
  • am a big Liverpool FC fan. Seeing Paul McCartney and Dave Grohl play together at Anfield (Liverpool’s home stadium) in 2008 was the best concert ever.
  • flew light aircraft from age 13 upwards,
  • once rescued a woman stuck up to her waist in quicksand
  • received my university degree from a real English Princess (Alexandra)
  • finished third in my age group at this year’s Grand Ledge Half Marathon, and
  • am lucky to be married to the wonderful and ever-patient Meg, a woman who plays a mean train whistle on Freight Train!

A quick thanks 🙂

Thank you to Tony, Joel, and Levi for hosting such a great site, and to everyone on the forum for making this such a fun place to be. Lastly, thank you to whoever nominated me. I’m honored and privileged to be in such great company at TAC and in this week’s Spotlight.


  1. Profile photo of Tony P
    Tony P Post author


    A big congratulations on your feature this week!!! We are so happy to have you here on TAC and when I was getting this post together, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about you. Some great stories here and I really appreciate you sharing them with all of us TAC’ers. Nice work on the half marathon… when I ran mine I was just happy to cross the finish line 🙂 Thank you for being an awesome member of TAC, keep up the great work!!!


  2. Profile photo of Edwin F
    Edwin F

    So there is actually a river called “Mercy” and would this be the same as alluded to in the song “Ferry Cross the Mercy” sung by Gerry and the Pacemakers…?

  3. Profile photo of Michael S
    Michael S

    Nicely done, Steve. Glad you’re enjoying your move to the USA. Keep working hard at your playing. Ain’t it fun?!

    1. Profile photo of Steve H
      Steve H

      Thanks Michael! I will do my best! I enjoy making progress and Tony’s site is the best place to do it IMO. Cheers!

  4. Profile photo of David W
    David W

    Congratulations, Steve! Lovely scenery behind you – it looks like you’re living in a beautiful part of the world now!

    1. Profile photo of Steve H
      Steve H

      Thanks David! I’m very lucky to live here. I miss the UK sometimes but get to go back a couple of times a year so get my fix of rain and football. Life is good!

  5. Profile photo of David Cagle
    David Cagle


    Congratulations on your time in the spotlight and I too love living near water which I find in itself a spiritual thing. I find that practicing and playing guitar are meditative as well. It seems that after playing for just a few minutes, I look at the clock and have been playing for two hours. Keep up the good work and I will see you in the forum! Sorry to say that I am an Arsenal fan though.


    1. Profile photo of Steve H
      Steve H

      Hey Dave. I agree with everything you say, except for the football team! Nothing better than noodling by the water is there?

  6. Profile photo of Stephen M
    Stephen M

    Steve! We have soooo much in common, beyond the obvious nomenclature. But really, who hasn’t rescued a few damsels from quicksand? Congratulations on the award. I very much enjoyed your profile!

    1. Profile photo of Steve H
      Steve H

      Thanks Stephen! Glad you enjoyed it. We share the same spelling of our first names, and, I suspect, you also spell it to others as “Stephen with a PH”. Thank you for commenting and adding the word “nomenclature” to the comments section. I feel smarter just reading it.

  7. Profile photo of Dom T
    Dom T

    Hey Steve, congrats on your well deserved spotlight. You are an interesting fellow indeed. Also very talented. Also a little crazy for playing outside this time of year. 😉
    Of course, we’re all a little bit crazy…..at least I am. As for REAL football, I am a huge Barca fan. I don’t have a fav in the Premier League yet.
    Keep playing and being creative with your backgrounds for your videos too.
    Quicksand eh? Good Lord. Dare I ask where THAT was?
    Glad you are a part of the wonderful world of TAC.

    1. Profile photo of Steve H
      Steve H

      Hey Dom! Thanks for the congrats. I am very happy to be here too! Talented might be a stretch but crazy, well that’s all relative! You and Ray’s son both have the same passion for Barca. A great team and stadium, who have become even better since you got “our” Luis Suarez. Go on the tour if you’re ever there. It’s quite the place.
      If I may humbly suggest Liverpool for your EPL team I think you’ll enjoy following them. It’s never dull because they alternate between great and rubbish, we have a very entertaining manager in Jurgen Klopp, and your pipes will get a workout singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” before every game. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N51jWNsW3F8
      The quicksand was at Crosby beach (about 5 miles north of Liverpool city centre). I went for a run on the beach when I saw a woman stuck waist-deep with her husband standing about 6 feet away. He was in shock and just staring at her. I waded in and got her out. We were both coated in sand and mud so got some very funny looks from other people on the beach as we went back to our cars. 🙂

    1. Profile photo of Steve H
      Steve H

      Hey Emma! Thanks for your kind words. I enjoy making the videos and am glad you like them. You are welcome to play my guitars any time. We lefties stick together!

  8. Profile photo of Vic G
    Vic G

    Hey Steve. Congrats on your well deserved spotlight. It was great to know you better. I enjoy your vids, even with the jumping fish and the turtles behind you. You mentioned you had a guitar on the way, is it the 816 (I’m guessing) that we just saw you playing in your Shady Grove video?

    1. Profile photo of Steve H
      Steve H

      Thanks Vic! The Shady Grove video was shot with my new GA-K, which I got a month ago ostensibly because of it’s full length scale so I could play more in alternate tunings. It’s got a spruce top/ koa back and sides, and is one of the prettiest guitars I’ve ever seen. Now I just need to improve my skills to justify the expenditure!

  9. Profile photo of Jason T
    Jason T

    Beautiful Taylor there (and a lovely setting behind it)! I love the Spritual aspect you talk about with the Oscar Wilde quote! Congratulations, Steve!

  10. Profile photo of Dru

    That’s a lovely Taylor you’ve got. And you play it well! I am right there with you on the quote from Oscar Wilde and also for your mentioning that playing guitar is an antidote to modern living. When we play, the world stops, and we are elevated! Keep playing!

    1. Profile photo of Steve H
      Steve H

      Thanks Dru. That’s very kind of you to say. “When we play, the world stops, and we are elevated!”- you sum up my feelings, and I suspect those many fellow TAC-ers, exactly.

  11. Profile photo of X

    Steve: I just love what you wrote. Wish we lived near each other so that we could drink beers or wine and play together! I think your video background for some of your performances is my all time favorite. Fish jumping, ducks, …. Like Carol, I’m very glad you are part of our TAC community! Good luck with the year of no GAS!

    1. Profile photo of Steve H
      Steve H

      Thanks for commenting Mark! I’d love to meet up some time. We’re both Midwesterners and, as I’ve found since moving here, people seem to like driving for a hours to do things. Maybe when the weather’s better? I’m glad you like the view for my videos. It’s better than the player, that’s for sure!

  12. Profile photo of Steve H
    Steve H

    Ray, your son supports a better team than you! 🙂 I love my 712ce and can heartily recommend the 7 series. Carol, I got my third Taylor, a spruce/ koa GA-K, just before Christmas (the spotlight piece was written before it arrived). I now have three guitars so that’s me set (for a while at least!). This is the year of resisting GAS!

  13. Profile photo of Ray W
    Ray W

    Nice to meet you, Steve!! Liverpool, eh? I’ve got a son who is a Barcelona FC fan. I tend to gravitate to Manchester U. 🙂 It’s nice to find that many of us have common interests even outside of guitar and TAC. And speaking of guitars, that 712ce is a beaut. I’ve had my eye on a 714ce for a while now.

  14. Profile photo of Carol M
    Carol M

    Welcome to the TAC spotlight, Steve!! You wear it well- Glad you are a part of TAC, It was great reading more about you! Hope to see pictures of your new little addition soon 🙂

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