“We should all recognize the shortage of LDS rock guitarists as we raise our children…”

March 1, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 7:28 pm   Category: Life,Mormon Culture/Practices

So my new band has not gigged yet. Here is the problem: Our guitar player flaked out on us around Halloween and we have had no luck finding a replacement. Rick, the founder of the band and our trombone player, made a funny crack on the band email list this afternoon:

I am hitting up my contacts again for guitarists. We all recognize the importance of that. I think we should all recognize this shortage of LDS rock guitarists as we raise our children (I’ve got one in the works) and do our part.

Amen brother Rick. Amen.

I’m doing my part too. My second daughter is taking some guitar lessons along with her piano lessons. The only problem is she’s seven…

Anyway, it’s not like Phoenix is a small town and here in the East Valley we have more than our share Mormons. (Since the other six of us in the band are Mormons we figured a Mormon guitarist would be a nice fit.) So if you know any LDS rock guitar players in the Phoenix area who might be interested have them send me an email right away. (See this post on the basics of this band.) We’re ready to rock so we’ll definitely take anyone who fits — Mormon or not — at this point.

Finding a guitarist is the first purpose of this post, but the second point is to open up the discussion of the influence of LDS culture on these sorts of things. Isn’t it funny how we have harp players coming out the wazoo in this church but finding a decent rock guitarist (or often, drummer) is a minor miracle? It’s such a bummer I think. I guess Mormon moms like to have their kids get good at the instruments you can play in church. I’ll bet Pentecostals never have a shortage of rockin’ guitarists!

Come on people — don’t you know that they rock out in the Celestial kingdom too? What is more heavenly than some hard rockin’ classic like, say, Fire by Hendrix? Please tell me our Mormonism hasn’t turned us all into Pat Boone.

30 Comments »

  1. Geoff,
    If only I wasn’t such a novice! I started playing the (aucostic) guitar last month (at the ripe age of 27) and although I have been enjoying it, and writing songs for my sons, I am not a rock guitarist.
    But, I do live in the East Valley!
    Maybe with some lessons (and an electric guitar). . .
    But, probably not in this lifetime.
    My husband has a great voice, though. If you need a singer, let me know!
    And, best of luck with your band. I will seriously ask around and see what I can find. Where in the EV do you live?

    Comment by jessawhy — March 1, 2007 @ 9:08 pm

  2. Well the band members live all over the East Valley and two of us are in other parts of Phoenix. We do tend to practice either in Chandler or Mesa or Gilbert/Queen Creek depending on who’s hosting the rehearsal that week though so it would be tough for someone who lived too far North of West in the Valley.

    BTW – Good luck on those lessons and welcome to the Thang Jessawhy.

    Comment by Geoff J — March 1, 2007 @ 9:18 pm

  3. Thanks, Geoff. If only I was actually taking lessons. . . my mom (who learned in the 70′s) gives me mini-lessons and I just play on my own.
    What kind of music do you guys play, anyway?

    Comment by jessawhy — March 1, 2007 @ 9:28 pm

  4. Well we’re a horn band (sax, trumpet and trombone in our ranks). We’ll end up playing all sorts of music. We hope to mostly do weddings and corporate gigs (where the money is — plus they have built in crowds). So in addition to all the cover band classics we’ll do more ska and swing and 70s funk than non-horn bands could pull off.

    Comment by Geoff J — March 1, 2007 @ 9:53 pm

  5. That sounds really cool.
    Good luck with your guitarist (why does s/he have to be Mormon by the way?)

    Comment by jessawhy — March 1, 2007 @ 10:00 pm

  6. Actually s/he doesn’t — especially at this point. But it would be a plus.

    Comment by Geoff J — March 1, 2007 @ 10:11 pm

  7. Awe, we just left the east valley, and, um, my husband ROCKS. He would have loved it.

    We just gave my 13 year old sister a guitar for her birthday…

    Interesting to note, my husband, who I kid you not has a gift from God when it comes to the guitar :) was told his whole life by his parents that it was a waste of time and would never be conducive to a family yadda yadda. Put a big chip on his shoulder, so, yeah…we need more mormon stevie rays :)

    Comment by Veritas — March 2, 2007 @ 12:43 am

  8. Here’s what we need to do: reintroduce live bands at stake dances doing cover tunes!

    Seriously: when I was growing up (early 80s), there was a gradual transition from live cover bands to DJs at stake youth dances. Before that transition, there were loads of LDS garage bands trying to make a little money playing dance tunes at the stake center on Saturday nights. They would play records during the breaks.

    My Blazer A teacher was a guy waiting to go on a mission, and he played guitar in such a band. A dream was born in my youthful heart. (That was my Monson impression.) Unfortunately, by the time I was able to get a band together, only Whittier stake still had a live band that would play a short set in the middle of the dance, and they were invariably seen as lamewads. So we played battle of the bands at the Catholic Church and school. (We were The Waldens. We did country-ish/punk covers ala The Knitters. But that’s a different story.)

    Comment by Norbert — March 2, 2007 @ 2:25 am

  9. It’s always been my firm conviction that if there are going to be rockstars, they may as well be Mormons.

    I wonder if the Sacrament Meeting ban on guitars has contributed to the shortage. Clearly the rock and roll lifestyle is questionable, but when even the instrument bespeaks a certain evil, unworthy of worship or praise…

    Comment by Peter — March 2, 2007 @ 4:58 am

  10. My son is teaching himself guitar. His influences are Iron Maiden and Megadeth. Too bad he’s 12 and lives in California.

    Comment by Susan M — March 2, 2007 @ 7:37 am

  11. Norbert: reintroduce live bands at stake dances doing cover tunes

    Amen. Actually we had been planning to do a stake dance (or at least Young Adult Dance) set or two as free ice-breaker gigs for ourselves.

    Peter – Yes I think the Sacrament meeting ban has a lot to do with this deeply critical shortage… (I’m surprised this growing crisis has not yet been addressed in General Conference!)

    Comment by Geoff J — March 2, 2007 @ 8:29 am

  12. I don’t know where Matt Harding hangs out these days – but years ago I heard him play a number of times and my impression is that the guy could play just about anything on guitar.

    I specifically remember him playing Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing” and I might have heard him play some Dire Straits stuff as well.

    Comment by danithew — March 2, 2007 @ 8:36 am

  13. My problem was always finding drummers, which are also in short supply in LDS circles. I’m raising up my daughter to be a drummer but, so far, she’s not even 18 months. (She rocks when she’s hitting things, though.) Plus, we’re nowhere near Arizona. (But I’ve got an LDS rock guitarist here in VA, and an LDS bass player, and I do the LDS keys, sax, and harmonica. But no drummer :(

    Comment by Sam B — March 2, 2007 @ 8:57 am

  14. Our Priest’s Quorum is all drummers. It’s funny because they were talking about putting together a band, but they’ve got three drummers and a singer(screamer)

    Comment by Matt W. — March 2, 2007 @ 9:00 am

  15. My oldest son is taking guitar lessons. He is kind of a Rush fan too. He is a long ways away though. Mary had a little lamb stuff.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — March 2, 2007 @ 9:31 am

  16. Oh please, Geoff’s trying to act all cool but in reality his band is only doing Wham, Rick Astley, and Debbie Gibson covers. Oh, and when they’re feeling really crazy they might throw in a Poison or Ratt tune. jk! ;)

    Comment by Kristen J — March 2, 2007 @ 10:18 pm

  17. Ratt rules.

    Comment by Susan M — March 3, 2007 @ 9:31 am

  18. Too bad you aren’t in Rexburg so you could get in on the great Mormon Rock Opera:

    (scroll to bottom of page)

    BYUI letters to the editor

    Comment by C Jones — March 3, 2007 @ 10:22 am

  19. Debbie Gibson and Wham! Those are the best artists ever! Tell me when your next show is and I’ll be there (you have to play that Jitterbug song, “wake me up before you go go”)

    Comment by Jessawhy — March 3, 2007 @ 4:29 pm

  20. I will NOT, I repeat, NOT wear those tiny white George Michael shorts!

    Comment by Geoff J — March 3, 2007 @ 5:10 pm

  21. Oh man! I love Rick Astley…”Never gonna give you up…” We’ll come and watch you play!

    Comment by Jamie J — March 3, 2007 @ 9:30 pm

  22. I remember when Geoff was on the football team in high school. I don’t remember him wearing George Michael shorts, but I do remember him wearing sweet t-shirts that he modified to accentuate his manly features. Click here to see an example of the shirt worn by my and Geoff’s brother. Oh man, how I wish I wore those shirts… NOT!

    Comment by Spencer J — March 3, 2007 @ 9:49 pm

  23. Har! Nice Spence.

    To be clear: That’s NOT me in that picture. (That is a trio of my younger brothers, but Spencer J is missing from that particular Dumbo.) I do admit I had a sweet cut-up shirt like that in the 80s which inspired the one you see there from Russ. But I don’t think I would have actually worn mine to Disneyland — mine was mostly for the beach if I remember correctly…

    Comment by Geoff J — March 3, 2007 @ 10:24 pm

  24. Oh, he still has that shirt and every once in a while I catch him in the closet bowing and chanting, “I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!”

    I’d throw it out but I worry that it might unhinge him psychologically.

    Comment by Kristen J — March 4, 2007 @ 8:09 am

  25. How embarrassing.

    Comment by Susan M — March 4, 2007 @ 3:36 pm

  26. Hehe. Kristen is fibbing about me having a shirt like that Susan (if that’s what you mean)

    Comment by Geoff J — March 4, 2007 @ 4:04 pm

  27. (I was joking too)

    Comment by Susan M — March 4, 2007 @ 9:24 pm

  28. I live in Chandler and like a good mom have provided my son with guitar lessons for five years now. He is serious about it and I think pretty mature for his age (18). He’s interested.

    Comment by AJ — March 5, 2007 @ 3:02 pm

  29. haha– I feel your pain in finding other LDS musicians who can rock out! I am an LDS hip hop artist– try finding other Mormon hip hop artists to work with! There’s like 5 of us in the whole country!

    Comment by ARHYTHMATIK — May 17, 2007 @ 2:24 am

  30. There’s like 5 of us in the whole country!

    Hehe. Thanks for stopping by. For some reason I suspect you aren’t exaggerating about that.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 17, 2007 @ 8:22 am

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