Instruments and the Musicians who Love Them
By Co-Executie Directors Delia Stanley and Rorie Kelly
Musicians have a special bond with their instruments. This week we thought we’d take a look at the Executive GoGirlsMusic team’s stories and encourage you to tell yours!
I don’t show people my guitar. I introduce them.
“This is Steve-Dave”, I say. People giggle or give me a confused look, sometimes they repeat the name back to me. “Steve-Dave?” they ask. I gesture to the front of the guitar; now covered with stickers, I’m pointing to a specific one, the first one, that declares “Tell ’em, Steve-Dave!” It’s a reference to Mallrats, a comic book themed Kevin Smith movie from the 90’s that meant a lot to me as a teenager. So did Steve-Dave, and he continues to mean a lot to me. He’s more than a piece of wood and steel strings, more than a guitar- he’s a friend.
Nearly all musicians know exactly what I mean. BB King had Lucille, Willie Nelson has Trigger, Eric Clapton had Brownie and then Blackie. Each one has a history, a story all their own that endears them to their owner.
Steve-Dave came into my life when I was about 13 years old. That wasn’t his name then; I didn’t really know how to play the guitar very well so I definitely wasn’t thinking about naming it anything. I had taken piano lessons and messed around on old classicals that my grandmother had, but Steve-Dave was *my* first acoustic guitar. It’s an Ibanez, one of those “Learn to play guitar today!” types that came in a package with a flimsy case, a few picks and a chord chart. I remember hammering away at Beatles music and pop songs, then writing my own terrible teenage angst ballads, some of which I even still play. Steve-Dave came to Boston with me during a short stint in art school, back to NY, was lent to a friend for a few years, came back into my arms again, and began to collect stickers during the past decade or so giving him a very distinct style and of course, his name. Despite my heavy handedness, travels, a few years of neglect and then constant practice, Steve-Dave never lost his beautiful tone and wonderful action. Though I’ve bought acoustic-electric guitars, including a gorgeous Luna guitar, I still prefer to pop an acoustic pickup into Steve-Dave for performances.
So, my guitar is appropriately named Violet and the origin story is that a few years into playing guitar when I was looking for an acoustic-electric to play out, my dad called me from Sam Ash and said “I found this beautiful guitar that is way underpriced because Sam Ash is losing the brand or something, it sounds great and it has great electronics, here’s the problem though: it’s purple.” And I’m like “HOW IS THAT A PROBLEM” so we bought it. Now, it’s been with me for like 20 years and it’s interesting because there are things I love and hate about it (it kind of sounds like a honky goose if you plug it directly into a PA, but it sounds great through an amp), but it’s like a family member so I can’t really deal with the idea of replacing it. So many formative emotional moments happened with that guitar in my hands so it feels like a part of who I am, like a journal spanning 20 years.
I also just got a piano this summer and I named it Isabelle after a character in a book who painted artwork that came to life. (Like actual beings were painted into existence every time she made a painting). It’s new to me but I feel very close to it and it’s the main thing keeping me pushing through being a beginner again. I had a keyboard for years but I never felt the call to just sit down and play it like I do when I walk into the room and look at Isabelle. That’s been a real special relationship forming this past year.
What’s your instrument’s story? Do you have a special name for it? Share it with us in the comments below or visit Facebook.com/gogirlsmusic!