"Answers to questions you may not even have thought to ask!"
I was at the tender age of ten in 1957 when my brother Bob was drafted into the army and he left behind his 6-string Stella guitar. I felt it my duty to look after it in his absence and it soon became my constant companion. Two years later he returned and reclaimed his prized possession but not without rewarding my efforts by giving me a Silvertone 6-string of my own. My addiction to all manner of guitar playing & paraphernalia has only increased since then.
The infamous '60 were soon upon me, and I was ready for the obsession with guitars that was about to sweep my generation into the fabulous music of that decade. Playing guitar with other people was the obvious cool thing to do in the early days of the great American "Folk Era", and since I didn't know anyone who played, my best friend George was the obvious (and willing) choice for "other person #1" in my performing life. On Christmas Eve 1961, I taught my first guitar lesson to George. Within a month we were playing and singing together. Little did I know he was only the first in an endless stream of people "in my teaching life" who would learn to play from my instruction as private students or in classes, and that guitar instruction would one day become my livelihood.
While our high school mates pumped gas and checked groceries to earn their spending cash, George & I and two other chums earned ours playing music in and around the New York metropolitan area. All-be-it we may not have had as nice cars as some of our mates, but we sure had fun. In 1963 we even attracted enough attention to garner an audition from Columbia records in New York. Our name, The Yeomen can be found on the Goya Guitar banner in the list of "These famous (?) people play Goya Guitars". Getting our heads through doorways was a problem at that time!
A decade later I found myself an Air Force Veteran living in Corvallis Oregon to attend Oregon State University. I was soon full time in the music world again along with my former wife. As "Tom & Theresa" we traveled the west coast restaurant, resort and campus circuits and recorded two albums. One of my songs "Carry Me Back", from the album of the same name was a Western Regional pick in Billboard magazine (12/13/'75). As record sales were improving, other things were not and it was soon back to the way it had started in Texas in 1966, just me and my bass player.
Realizing that the performing life would not meet the needs of raising my son as a single parent, teaching soon became a major factor in my music life during the 1980's. How does that go? "Those that can't do (for whatever reason), teach." As a result, besides continuing as a songwriter, I have written three instructional-reference books for guitar. Although strictly a sideline I do continue to perform with my wife Ellen. One can find information about our recordings and such on our website <oregrownmusic.com>.
In addition to being the staff guitar teacher for Linn Benton Community College and a guitar instructor for the Benton Center, the past 15 years have mostly found me cloistered in my home studio, writing, recording and teaching hundreds of private guitar lessons a year. In this new century I've recorded several albums (CDs) for local muscians and produce concerts for local and touring folkmusicians. But my personal most-fun musical challange is getting some of my songs played on NPR's "Car Talk with Click & Clack The Tappet Brothers". As of 2010 I've had six songs make it on to the show. One of them is the first Google listing out of three million for "Official Volvo Song"!! But no check from Volvo yet.
I guess the only question remains..."Have we learned anything yet?"