Where it all started

Where did it all start? Did I always want to be a musician?
These are questions I get asked often.
As for where it started, this picture says it all! I was holding a guitar before I could even ride a bike, singing into a mic before I could write my name. My role model, and biggest musical influence was my dad. I don't remember much from my childhood, but I remember vividly my dad coming home after a long day at work, scooping me up, and taking me with him to band practice and gigs. He was a guitarist in the band Magic Mushroom Tea (can you tell they got together in the 70s?). I was the resident beer chaser at quarter a can (Ah the 80s, when your parents didn't go to jail for stuff like that). I was a little wild child living on Mountain Dew and Rock N Roll...and that's where I got my nickname...Jet. I remember being in awe watching my dad on stage, it was the coolest.
My dad wasn't my only musical influence though. We grew up on a farm, where family get togethers usually turned into impromptu jam sessions. My dad and cousins all played. Skynyrd was a family favorite. There is just something about "That Smell" of a bonfire and some sweet southern soul, rock n roll. But, like my dads dad hated his "long haired hippie music", along came the 90s, and Eazy E. While I was a country boy at heart, there was something about Gangster Rap. Hip hop was on the scene and suddenly I was influenced by something far, far from what I grew up on! Now I was a "Simple Man" who was "Rollin Down The Street In My 6-4".
Insert teenage rebellion and a bad attitude, music went out the window. I was now more concerned with cars, women and drugs. Trying to live out the gangster life that I "envied" from the lyrics of rappers like NWA and Tupac. Years went by and I was struggling just to survive,to get clean.
Even through my addiction, I always played guitar but that was about it. I didn't really "know" I could sing, and really even if I did, I was in too much of a fog to realize it. Somewhere along the way (a lot of those years are a blur) in my sobriety, I was playing my guitar and singing and someone said "Man you're good". Well, if you know anything about an addict, self doubt, fear, and feelings of inadequacy super cede all.
Slowly and privately, I kept practicing. Video taping myself and listening. Finally, I heard it. More importantly, I felt it. Something happened. It was something I had never felt before. That moment, I realized that not only could I sing, but it was like therapy. I was no longer obsessing about drugs and alcohol. I was now obsessing over practicing and honing my craft, coming into the voice I didn't know I had. The feeling I got from playing music was very similar to using drugs, euphoric. Only this time the feeling was good...No GREAT! And that my friends....was when I knew I wanted to be a musician.
Thanks for following a kid who didn't know he had a dream, who didn't know he would even have a life to live....Live it.
-Justin

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