Luckily for me, there was an American guitarist called Stefan Grossman who had studied the individual styles of some of these guys and had even gone in search of them to get first-hand knowledge. He then released albums of blues guitar pieces that he had learned from them and these were accompanied with a booklet of guitar tablature for every track. So I bought two of these albums and began the long task of working out how to play some of them. I also bought a suitable acoustic guitar and a 12-string and slide (bottleneck). I was still learning all the popular rock guitar licks at the same time and I soon joined my first band when I was about 17 years old. My dad astounded me by buying me my first US Fender Strat and 100 watt valve amplifier. I had always thought that he hated rock music but he encouraged me to play and I played in a series of local rock bands for 5 years before being persuaded to form a duo with the lead singer from my last band. We were hired by an agent and spent two years playing pubs and clubs throughout the NE area. However, I was bored with this before very long and it was hard working full-time and having to play nearly every night as well. The plus side was that I earned enough cash to buy enough gear to set up my own home recording studio and at this point, I had so many ideas for songs and compositions that I wanted to develop and I spent the next 6 years working on them. I still enjoy playing the solo acoustic stuff though, and continued to play the odd gig now and again just to keep in touch with the performing side. I later regretted this decision to a certain degree because I lost touch with a lot of my musician friends and missed the buzz of performing to an audience. The best scenario would have been to write material for a band and then rehearse and perform it on stage, but unfortunately there wasn't much demand at that time for local venues to feature artists who played their own material so really I felt that I had to choose one road or the other. It was only in May 2009 that I decided that I would play in a band again and I'm so glad that I made that decision. My son Alex, who was 15 years-old, played in a Steel Band and was also learning to play piano and bass guitar. The opportunity to join a council-funded Jazz Workshop presented itself but it was a bit daunting for him at first. So I agreed to join in as well just to give him some moral support, as they didn't have a guitarist and I was taking him to the workshop anyway. After 3 months of weekly sessions, we ended up with a 10 piece band called 'Miles Ahead' and had a reportoire of six jazz numbers by Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Charlie Parker, Horace Silver and Wayne Shorter. We performed a one-off gig at the Stockton Riverside Jazz Festival on 2nd August 2009 to an appricative audience of approx 100 people in the historic Georgian Theatre and received a great review: http://lance-bebopspokenhere.blogspot.com/search?q=miles+ahead See also: http://www.jazzaction.co.uk/milestones.html
We have both continued to take part in the Jazz Workshop and have performed at the 2010 & 2011 jazz festivals at the same venue. It is wonderful to be working with other musicians once again and I feel that it has helped me to add another string to my bow. I am also working on a new album of songs and instrumentals which will hopefully be released in Autumn 2012, and hopefully there will be a few live performances to follow.