The story of how I got here? I have to acknowledge three important pieces of my story.
First, my love for brass music and two special people who got me here. The first person is my good friend Miranda and then another woman named Melanie. Miranda brought me to my first HONK! Festival back in 2009. I have to admit, being somewhat of a natural born cynic, that I did not want to go when she invited me. I have a tendency to immediately shut down any suggestions someone might have for me when considering my musical tastes. But I am beyond amazed that she convinced me to go. Instantly hooked, I have attended every HONK! Fest since that very day back in 2009 and I’ve no regrets whatsoever. It’s the one weekend of the year that no one should expect me to be doing anything else.
Earlier in my life my father had pushed an electric Gibson guitar onto me when I was 12 but I could never seem to take to it. I was a child of the early 80’s who was raised into hip hop music as a student in the Boston Public School system belonging to parents of a classic 60’s and 70’s rock era. A true product of my environment. Towards the end of teen life, I soaked up the Boston Rock scene attending shows regularly and having the fortune to go shows at old Lansdowne, the Rathskeller, the Middle East (before they permanently raised the pipes to the ceiling), and many others. When I grew tired of that, I ended up in somewhat of an underground electronic subculture which made me eventually try a very brief stint as a DJ. But only for a small period at a college radio station and honestly, only a handful of house parties. That didn’t take either… and I grew bored of that. All those forms of music above are what I “fell” into. It’s not to say I don’t like them. I really do and believe they shaped a big part of who I am. But getting into jazz was something I could say that “I”… “put” …myself into. No encouraged me to listen to it. I had never seen a live brass brand, unless you want to count many a ska band that I saw back in the day. But jazz was waiting for me to find it. That’s how I truly feel. So I found it on my own. Temporarily setting all my other musical tastes aside, it was one day in the fall of 2002 when I made the decision, “I think I’m going to see what this jazz thing is all about”. I was entranced. Since then I had always wanted to play the trumpet, having become a huge jazz fan. Trombone would be my second choice. But I could never muster up the courage or motivation to even think that holding a trumpet in my hands would be a reality, never mind playing one. Melanie smashed that delusional thinking of mine right out of my head. During the start of 2016’s Somerville/Cambridge HONK! Fest weekend, I had run into Melanie, who’s in the Extraordinary Rendition Band based out of Providence. I would see her friendly face throughout the rest of that weekend up until the very end. At the weekend finale at PRONK! down in Providence, I saw Melanie one last time when she asked me, “Well how was your weekend?” … and my reply was… “You know? I had a fantastic time, but I’m sick of being a spectator. I want to be in one of these bands! I want to play the trumpet!” She told me that I need to start playing the trumpet, then. And then she referred me to School of HONK. The next day I sent feelers out on social media asking if anyone knew ANYONE… that might have a trumpet for sale. The following Saturday, I found myself going for a 3 hour drive to Maine to fetch a trumpet which was very generously given to me by a friend‘s husband. The next day I attended my first School of HONK session. Not even a week after HONK! Fest! My life has been changed ever since. This instrument has helped me out in so many ways along with all the great people at School of HONK that I’ve met in the past year. Special mention to Maggie, as she was the first person there to greet and welcome me. I have come to know so many great people there since. I just played in my first HONK! Fest ever this past October. Also? I now own four trumpets. Not bad for someone who was shy to even look for one a little over a year ago. I just needed a point in the right direction. And I got just that. Now my only task is to give back to School of HONK for what they have given to me … and to become a better trumpet player as time goes on. It’s truly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. And if you’re like me, shy and unsure about entering a world you’ve never been in… I say jump at it with all you can! What’ve you got to lose?