Being at peace with being nobody.

Stevie Ray VaughanSome of you may already know that I run a guitar lesson website called StevieSnacks.com.  I was very influenced by the guitar stylings of Stevie Ray Vaughan as I learned, and I’m trying to pass on some of that knowledge.  Part of making that website relevant is knowing who else out there is doing what I’m doing.  So I was cruising YouTube on my iPhone last night, looking for videos of people playing like Stevie Ray Vaughan.  As I did this I experienced something that I honestly thought I had gotten over.  The gut-wrenching feeling that I need to get SERIOUS about my guitar playing because some of these people are better than me and I need to catch up fast!

I’m going to try and disect what I was feeling and why I was feeling it.  But first, let me go back in time a bit to explain how I got here.

Anthony Stauffer with Tonestack Blues When I started playing guitar, I began to learn very quickly.  I learned entirely by ear, and within two years had started my own band.  My playing was still pretty rough, but even at that time, I had learned some things that some people never learn.  But back then, there was no YouTube, and not many musicians had websites.  So I thought I was the only one.  I honestly believed that I was alone in my ability to mimic the style of Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Kenny Wayne ShepherdThen one day I learned of a young guitar player named Kenny Wayne Shepherd.  He was only 16 and could play exactly like Stevie Ray Vaughan.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was much better than me.  His playing was polished way beyond his years.  I was mortified.  Here was this young punk taking my place as the rightful heir to the Stevie Ray Vaughan throne.  But he didn’t sing.

Johnny LangThen I heard about another young guitar player named Johnny Lang.  He wasn’t as awsome of a guitar player, but he sang better that most people 3 times his age.  He was only 15.  Again, I was mortified.  I was missing my chance.

Mato NanjiA couple years passed and I continued in my pursuit of the crown.  And then I heard of the band Indigenous.  The lead guitar player was named Mato Nanji.  And he was incredible.  He sounded just like Stevie Ray Vaughan.  Oh, and he sang too.  Really well.  And again, I was mortified.  This was supposed to be me.  I was supposed to be the one getting the accolades, the one being featured in guitar magazines.  What was I doing wrong?

Then one day I decided to do a search to see what my competition was.  Much to my surprise, the internet was littered with guitar players who were more than happy to compare themselves to the late, great, SRV.  Some were ridiculously bad, but a lot of them were not.  I began to have a revelation in that moment.  My gift of guitar playing was great, but it was not unique.  I was not the only one.  There were many just like me.  In a way, I was not special at all.  Just another wannabe Stevie Ray Vaughan clone.

But I kept pressing.  I was up for the challenge. I’d be better than all of them.  Better than Kenny, Mato, and the rest. 

But God interrupted my quest for the title of "The Next SRV", and showed me a better way.  I stopped caring about being famous, being on stage and just enjoyed my gifts.  I started putting guitar lessons on the internet at www.steviesnacks.com.  And I began looking for other people who were doing the same thing.  And that brings me back to last night.  Which I’ll write about tomorrow….

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