There is a book called "The Artists Way" by Julia Cameron. It's a work book of sorts for artists and aspiring artists. For some reason my Mother had a copy. I think she skimmed through it before deciding it wasn't for her. She gave it to me and I immediately put it in my desk drawer, where it sat untouched for about a year.
Now that I'm beginning to get over all the excitement of getting married, I feel a desire to re-commit to the business of living a good creative life. So I've started working through the book. One of the exercises in the first week is to write a letter to one of your early artistic champions. Someone who believed in your abilities from the start. So I wrote a letter. I wrote to Vinny.
Vinny Baker was a friend of my Father and the greatest guitar player I ever heard. He was the single biggest influence of my first musical years. An inspiration, he was the ideal to work towards. The gold standard. Together we picked out my first real acoustic guitar and together we recorded the album "Wood" in 2006 at his VeeBee Studios. He passed from this life suddenly and unexpectedly three years ago today. I think about him all the time.
Letter to your champion:
I want to thank you for letting your love of music spill over into everyone who met you. I'm thankful to have been exposed to your passion and musical knowledge at such a young age. Music lit you up and then it lit me up. You were the wise man handing out knowledge with kindness and warmth. You were my teacher and guide. When I was a boy you were a God and now you are gone. You were discipline and joy. You loved your instrument and the hum of electric amplifiers. You hated all pretence.
I remember hiding, spellbound and underage, in darkened corners of pubs all over the country, watching you performing miracles on a red Fender Stratocaster. I remember a note that went on forever. I knew then that I wanted more than anything to be a musician.
"Wood" is almost ten years old. That record wouldn't exist without you. I remember clearly, early mornings at the new VeeBee studio. Before any work could begin, we would have coffee, and maybe a sandwich or a slice of toast. It was a very important and exciting time. Thank you for your enthusiasm and patience on that project.
This was my education and music was a warm blanket I was wrapped up in. I was in love. I owe you more than I know and now you're gone. Your guitar is under my care and I try every time I pick it up to do it justice, to honour your spirit in the wood, and in the world.
I will be forever thankful for the time you gave me and for the sparks in your hands.