Mike Marabeas The Early Years
My connection to music started with my family. My father, who is an avid music fan of 50’s-60’s and 70’s rock n roll always had records playing. Carlos Santana, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Hendrix, The Kinks. If I hear any song by those artists it brings back several fond memories of my childhood and my family. I liked the sound of the electric guitar and I did not care much for songs without it. To this day I pretty much feel the same way. I spent hours listening to kick you in the face guitar driven rock n roll. I can say there was a lot of stage dives and air guitar in my bedroom. I used to play air guitar with an old tennis racket to the Kinks “You Really Got Me” over and over. This is one of my earliest memories of a song that actually excited me and gave me adrenaline.
The First Guitar
Around 7 years old I took an interest in learning. My family had a red Washburn electric guitar laying around that nobody knew how to play except for my dad that could fumble around a few chords. I was memorized by it. I would pluck the strings, equally fascinated as I was discouraged that people like Eddie Van Halen and David Gilmore could make the instrument sound the way they did. I never thought it was even a possibility in my life that I could learn how to play it. I thought it was some sort of natural talent you were fortunate enough to be blessed with.
Meeting the Blues
I never applied myself to actually learning it. I dabbled with the saxophone when I was 12 and I never practiced. During recitals my friend and I Joey Moore were strategically placed in the back and told to play softly. We were awful, but everyone thought we were bad ass because we had a sax in our hands. I remember being confused by music theory and the songs we were playing were not very interesting. This further solidified my understanding that music requires some sort of god given talent. Something that I wasn’t born with and I quit. Around my Junior year in high school I found the blues. I loved Hendrix, Gary Moore, BB, Freddie King, Buddy Guy. My connection to the blues was different, I liked rock n roll but I loved the blues. Something about those screaming bends and voice driven guitar lines soothed the soul.
Determined to Play
The guitar solo on Are You Experienced made me want to start playing guitar again. As an 18 year old young adult I had a different perspective. I told myself this time I would really try, no matter how hard, I would not let a lack of effort stop me from learning. I started taking lessons from a guy named Don Hickey. He was an old rock n roll god from the 80s. He taught me songs and that standard old minor pentatonic A shape form on the fifth fret.
On the Stage
I played for hours on end in this stage, 4-12 hours a day trying to figure that thing out. I learned a lot of blues songs and excelled at them over other genres. I spent hours listing to Buddy Guy, BB King, Hendrix and David Gilmore solos trying to emulate what they were doing. I really think those guys taught me how to play. I ended up getting invited out by Don to play Red House at a dive bar, this was my first gig. I really wasn’t nervous surprisingly, but it could have been the 5 beers I drank before I got up there. Everyone was a pro, the guy playing bass was filling in, his regular gig was playing bass for Steely Dan. I ripped the solo when it came up, it wasn’t very good, but good enough that nobody died. Being the rookie I was, I played all over the saxophone solo, I didn’t realize we took turns, I thought it was my show.
To this day I am super appreciative of the opportunity those guys gave me. After that day I realized that being a guitarist was real possibility and not a pipe dream.
Honing the Craft
I later started studying with the pros pro of songwriters David Randel. He was the one who got me started learning theory and actually understanding how the instrument and music for that matter worked. I continued this journey with another pro Tim Quinn. He was another amazing guitarist and teacher. I learned a lot form both of these talented musicians and teachers. They have both had major influence on my development as a musician. I enjoy learning music, it’s my passion in life.
I spend all of my free time reading books and learning from other musicians online and in person. My journey taught me that playing an instrument has nothing to do with talent and everything to do with passion, hard work, consistency and disciple.
I dabbled around through the years playing in some garage bands, jamming with friends, playing alone. I played in a band with my father John Marabeas (Keys) and Black Levee’s Dan Anderson It was blast making music with my dad and we still get together and jam. Currently I am a father of two beautiful boys and a Husband to my beautiful wife.