In 1994, I had the good fortune of spending the afternoon with the lead singer and guitar player from Brother Cane, Damon Johnson. Brother Cane was in town opening for Aerosmith on the Pump tour and the radio station had put together a contest in conjunction with The House of Guitars to win a private lesson with Damon. I stuffed that ballot box like a mob-boss and, oddly enough, won the lesson. The exciting part: I'd been playing guitar for about six months.
I arrived at The HOG for my private lesson and met Damon in the front room. He was kind and smiley... and remarkably cool in my eyes. As he reached into the rack for a Les Paul, he asked "What do you play?" Before I finished my answer, I found myself holding a tuxedo black Les Paul Custom, left handed and all! I carried this beast to the lesson room in the back where we would spend next two and a half hours of my 'complimentary half-hour lesson'. We didn't play much more than a few notes but mostly talked about music; what we loved about it, how to make a life out of it, how important college is and having marketable skills other than music, family (both having one and being from one), balancing work and play. Damon was rather adept at fielding my questions and seemed to geniunely enjoy himself. His tour manager came to the door several times to move him along and would respond, "Give me a few more minutes."
At the end of our time together, he asked if I was coming to the show that evening. I mentioned that wasn't really interested in Aerosmith, even though I really wanted to see Brother Cane again. Damon scolded me as a proper teacher should and said, "Give me your number. I'll grab some tickets for you and call you. Come out tonight and I'll show you why Aerosmith is great." Before dinner, I had the call.. and at 7:30, my friend Steve and I began class. "Rock 102: Why Aerosmith is Great".
I look back on that day as one of several that solidified music as a vital behavior. Damon Johnson now works with Alice Cooper and Black Star Riders among others, and I believe is still happily married with grown children. And he's probably forgotten about our afternoon adventure in 1994. But that day helped set a course for me and many others connected to me. I am so grateful for the extra time he gave me that day. And, yes, Aerosmith was worth seeing that night! Thank you, Damon. #throwbackthursday.