Artist: John Warstler

 
John Warstler
Boyne City, MI
 
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I bought my first guitar back in December of 1967. As a teenager, we were given some money as part of Christmas gift from our parents. I remember getting $30 and buying Crestwood acoustic guitar for $29.50. I later bought a used Silvertone electric and played my first gig the summer before my freshman year in high school. The gear was all borrowed and after hauling all that huge equipment in my dad's van, I remember appreciating the simplicity of acoustic music. At that time Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel and the Beatles were being played in our house, thankfully I had an older brother and sister, so I was exposed to some good music at a relatively early age. A while later, Neil Young was beginning to bridge the acoustic/rock scene and Cat Stevens, the guy with a cool name, was playing some nicely arranged songs, many of which had fingerstyle guitar parts. So from early on, I enjoyed attempting to work out melody lines within chord structures so that the guitar could fill both rhythm and lead parts at the same time.

Late in high school I was exposed to Elderly Instruments, at that time they were located in a basement in East Lansing. They routinely had great old time and Celtic music being played within the confines of that small store. I remember practically hiding in a corner whenever trying out an instrument there because the talent pool that hung out in that store was incredible. My taste for traditional music probably grew as fast as the Elderly store. I was hearing, for the first time great flatpicking and all sorts of music that had great energy. This was to be the music I wanted to pursue and I essentially played everyday of my teenage and young adult life. I worked as a single and in a number of acoustic duos, trios and bands through college at Northern Michigan University. My first decent band was probably the Boreal String Band. It was a Celtic/Old Time Band that played concerts, festivals and dances in the late 1970's. We were recorded and put on vinyl as part of the Wheatland compilation recordings of their main festival and their reunion festival.

After graduate school I landed my first job in Wisconsin and in 1984 my first child was born. Shortly after that, playing music out lost its appeal. The only music I played at that time was at home. However, a good friend of mine, John Snider was starting a mission church and I wanted to help him out. I knew a few hymns and carols back then so I began to play in church. As a result of this my repertoire of hymns greatly increased once I began to play consistently at Grace Lutheran Church. After living in Wisconsin for 15 years, I moved back to my home state of Michigan. Instantly, I realized there was a lot more music happening and my children had become less and less dependent on their parents. This allowed me to branch out and start playing music again publicly. Currently, I play out in a number of configurations. Fortunately, there are plenty of contra and square dances in our region so my favorite band, Fog Harbor can play their great old time dance music. I also play out with a good friend, Dave Eggebrecht in a duo for a variety of venues. I have really enjoyed playing music in northern Michigan and I have been able to work out as much as I choose to. I have also been asked to do some studio work on other's projects, both as a player and as a studio engineer.
 
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