54 Comments

"used guitars already have their stories. Their memories. You ought to write your own on a clean slate.”

So true. The longer you have a guitar, the more stories it has. I couldn't imagine a life without music or playing guitar.

If you don't mind I am going to plug my new-ish band. We have our first real (paying) gig Saturday. We have been live-streaming on TikTok for a year.

https://www.tiktok.com/@americangarageband

Here is a song I wrote:

https://www.tiktok.com/@americangarageband/video/7166342529627983147

Expand full comment

You guys sound really good.

Expand full comment
author

Mark, your band sounds amazing! I really enjoyed the song you wrote, too. How long do you play for on Thursday nights? If I get a chance I’ll have to try to tune in. Thanks so much for sharing!

Expand full comment
Feb 1, 2023·edited Feb 1, 2023Liked by Justin Deming

Thanks Justin. 🤓 We play from 9:30-11:30 EST on Thursdays.

Expand full comment

Very enjoyable story. Sometimes during the ritual of life we need to find an outlet that we alone enjoy and just do it.

Expand full comment

I believe hobbies are essential to living a good life.

Expand full comment
author

Thanks, Peggie. Absolutely! Like Mark said below, I think it’s vital.

Expand full comment
author

Sorry, Pennie! Darn autocorrect!

Expand full comment

It's okay, Peggy was mom though.

Expand full comment

My gut reaction as a wife with two kids is to say, "$750!? What were you thinking?". 😂 But as the musician in my house, I've put down some serious cash for instruments and equipment over the years. I had an American Fender P bass at one point. I bought it used, but it was still really expensive. My teacher at the time said if I wanted to play blues, that was "the one" I needed. It was a beast and years later, when I was playing acoustic rock, I traded it for a smaller jazz bass. I still miss my red Fender sometimes, though. 🥲 And the blues. 💙

Expand full comment
author

Haha! I was wondering if anyone was going to comment on that. Agreed, it’s a lot of dough to spend on a whim! Hmm...I may need a “part two” to cover her reaction to Phil’s purchase.

It’s really neat to hear about your personal history with music. Thanks for sharing! Do you still play or still own any guitars? (By the way, if you find yourself spending some serious cheddar on a ridiculously expensive guitar/bass in the near future...I had nothing to do with it!) 🤣 🎸 🎶

Expand full comment

I would say $1000 for a lifetime of enjoyment is an amazing bargain. 🤓

Expand full comment

I still own my jazz bass and a Fender Strat. Both in a closet in the basement currently. :( Until the pandemic broke our gig rhythm*, we had a decent run. Mostly played out as a duo, but we'd bring our drummer in for bigger venues and for albums. 😊https://twodaysfrommonday.bandcamp.com/album/season-left-behind

*It was partly the pandemic and partly me not wanting to play bars anymore. As a more jaded Mel might say, "I was getting too old for that shit." 😂 If you listen and are short on time, I sing lead on tracks 2, 4, 6 and 9. I wrote the lyrics on 9. :)

Expand full comment
author

Very nice, Meg! Just had some time to listen. I enjoyed your stuff! “Shine” was great. Your band has a pleasant, uplifting sound. Thank you so much for sharing! 😊

Expand full comment
author

Amazing!!! I had no idea. Thanks so much for sharing, Meg. I’m going to give your album a listen later. Really looking forward to it and checking out your music! 🎶

Expand full comment
Feb 1, 2023·edited Feb 1, 2023Liked by Justin Deming

🤣 I hear you on gigging, Meg. I recently quit a band of 15 years because I was tired of the increasing hassles of gigging and practicing. And we only really did festival gigs (the fun ones.) So I put together an acoustic trio and we started live-streaming on TikTok from one member's garage. That was a year ago and we have 50,000 followers now. And they tip! No travel or setup hassles, just fun, and extra money.

But having said that, we are playing a gig Saturday night at a sports tavern. If it stays fun, I will keep gigging. When it stops being fun, we still have TikTok. 🤣

It is nice to meet some fellow musicians on Substack.

Expand full comment

Well, first off, the story made me cry. Music is my first love, after all. Secondly, I’m getting to that age where losing a spouse is a real concern. The guy I’ve been listening to lately is named Jelly Roll. His rap/blues/rock combo is unique and deeply meaningful. He talks about real life problems and how God saved him. Give him a listen if you don’t know who he is. ☺️

Expand full comment

Same here, Kim, re: losing a spouse, or him losing me. So much closer, now.

Love Jelly Roll! :-)

Expand full comment

If you haven't already heard his country song, "Son of a Sinner", you need to.

Expand full comment
author

Thanks for recommending!

Expand full comment
author

Aw, thanks, Kim. Stories connect us, and I’m so happy you connected with Mel and Phil’s - even if it brought some tears. I totally understand where you’re coming from.

You know, I’ve heard of him, but for the life of me I can’t remember who the heck told me about him. I’ll be sure to check out his stuff. Thanks for the recommendation!

Thank you again for reading! 🎶

Expand full comment

Here's a song that I think fits and I've been thinking about since my drummer died.

Fans of The Descendents have different theories on the song, whether it was an homage to another band, or Bill Stevenson's thank you to his own band.

They're some of the most genuine people in rock n roll and easily one of the most underrated American bands of all time.

https://youtu.be/x8K4hjaB6Ok

Expand full comment
author

Thanks for sharing this song! I enjoyed it and absolutely loved the energy. I’m really sorry to hear about your drummer, Jimmy.

Expand full comment

We had some great times on stage and off

Expand full comment

Here's one of ours he co-wrote. I wrote the lyrics, which include the line " live fast, die young, push it to the limit til the coffin calls"

https://youtu.be/0isF5w8KO8A

Expand full comment
author

Holy crap, man, you guys were amazing. I don’t know if I’d ever listened to any of your music. You were the lead singer, right? Love those lyrics! I have to admit, this one hit me harder than The Descendents’ song above. Going to have to dig up more of your band’s music! Thanks a bunch for sharing.

Expand full comment

https://youtu.be/omlgK9I3nGs

Expand full comment
author

I can see why it’s your favorite! I bet you all had some fun times. You’ve got a new fan over here in New York.

Expand full comment

I love that. It changed my life so much. And I got an acting career out of the deal. That's extraordinary fortune.

Expand full comment

Hang on. I'll send you a link to my favorite, though I definitely want you to comb YouTube for some stuff. But the one I'm going to send, Staredown , is extremely autobiographical.

Expand full comment

Beautiful, I can remember testing out instruments in the past and how they made me feel.

Expand full comment
author

Thanks a bunch, Nick! I love music, but I’m far from a musician. I used to tag along with my big bro, though. 🎶

Expand full comment

... he wanted to play.

Great story Justin -- thank you!

Expand full comment
author

Thank you so much for reading!

Expand full comment

How wonderful to write this for your brother!

I'm always "late to the game", but on YouTube, I'm listening to Japanese guitarist Ichika Nito (also is his YT channel name). He plays Ibañez amplified guitars.

Expand full comment
author

Thanks so much for reading, Jenise! I hear you in regards to that. I’ll have to check out his stuff! Thank you very much for sharing. 😊

Expand full comment

Excellent story. I know nothing about music other than I like to listen to it. Love how you tied in the family.

Expand full comment
author

Scott, thank you so much! I really appreciate you reading and commenting. Happy you enjoyed it.

Expand full comment
Jan 31, 2023·edited Jan 31, 2023Liked by Justin Deming

"There was a tiny hole in his heart." I think this is your opening line right here. As a reader we see this sentence and ask, Why? (IMHO ha ha ha.)

Fine story, I can feel the lurching of his heart at the sight of all those Gibsons hanging on the wall. Such treasure! My mama, Katy, played a black sunburst arch-top f-hole Gibson for years. I still remember the bold sound of that mid-century steel-string acoustic . Thanks for reminding me, Justin. As far as bands... I have been listening to early 70s Graham Nash. He breaks my heart when he says, "I just want to hold you, I don't want to hold you down." One of the many genius musicians of my halcyon hippie days. Sigh. Thanks for the memories.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpkELuj6kn4 - Graham Nash

Expand full comment
author

Sharron, this is excellent advice! It would make a great opening line because it makes the reader ask that important question. Thank you for the feedback!

I can see Katy vividly through your description of her playing - simply beautiful. I’m happy this story brought you back. 🎸♥️🎶

Expand full comment

Such a sweet encounter between two music lovers. I wasn't expecting the ending--but glad that Mel has his music for comfort. Amazing how many memories and emotions are attached to the music we love.

Expand full comment
author

Thanks so much, Ricki! Isn’t it? I love how specific songs still bring me back to exact moments in time. Music is a powerful sort of magic!

Expand full comment

Great story! There’s a lot of empathy between characters in your stories, which I appreciate.

In terms of rock songs, I was listening to one of my favorite bands in the car the other day - New Pornographers, “High Ticket Attractions.”

Expand full comment
author

Thanks, Geoffrey. I like to think that we’ve all still got a fighting chance as long as we’re decent to one another!

Just checked out the song and it’s super catchy. The music video is pretty wild, too, ha! Thanks for sharing.

Expand full comment

A great read Justin! Such a truth; the things we pause in our life that we truly love. Your story really brought it home. An acoustic guitar help bring my wife and I together! I saw her cute self with a guitar case, between classes in the church basement. (it was a religious college!) I had taken beginning guitar and started a conversation; and I was smitten! Sooo-guitars, I'm a fan!

Expand full comment
author

Thank you so much for reading! And what a heartwarming story regarding you and your wife. I loved reading and seeing that little glimpse into your life. Thanks so much for sharing it with me. 😊🙏

Expand full comment
Feb 19, 2023Liked by Justin Deming

Had that same feeling the first time I strummed a J-200. Could never justify the cost though. Jimmy Dooms Roulette Weal comments section brought me here. I like stories like this. Good work!

Expand full comment
author

Hey Steve, welcome aboard! Thank you so much for subscribing! Jimmy is one of my favorite writers here on Substack. I’m happy you liked the story. Here’s another semi-recent one you might enjoy: https://alongthehudson.substack.com/p/old-soul

Expand full comment
Feb 19, 2023Liked by Justin Deming

Yup, loved it. I'm a collector/ trader of vintage equipment and vinyl records. Obviously a music lover.

Expand full comment

Great story Justin!

This puts some intrigue into it with the comment about his doctor's appointment. I read into it that it might not be good news.

As far as band or song, I've been listening to a lot of music lately. I can just point you to the two genres I listen to all the time: Country and Contemporary Christian. Anything in those genres gives me inspiration for my writing. If I'm not listening to music, the cursor sits still and the words don't flow. When the music is on, the words flow like crazy.

Expand full comment
author

That’s a great point, Matthew, regarding the doctor’s appointment. I love this take. Receiving negative news might push him toward the guitar shop. Makes perfect sense to me!

I think it’s wonderful that music brings out so many of your ideas when writing. Sometimes it can for me, but I find that I focus too much on the lyrics and get distracted. I’m finding that I tend to write better in silence. But I love playing music just about any other time. 😄

Expand full comment

Music, and stories about it, always tug at my heartstrings. Both of my sisters are self-taught hobby guitarists. Me, not so much. I'm a flute player, and boy oh boy did your story make me miss playing. I might just have to sit down and make some music now.

Expand full comment
author

Yes, absolutely! You should create something, especially if you feel the pull! I can play the drums but not well. My brother and I used to jam all of the time growing up. I’d keep a steady rhythm for him and he’d just hammer on his guitar. Man...we had some fun times. I miss those days sometimes!

Expand full comment