Around this time last year, I decided that 2010 was going to be "my year," and I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out. I laid the groundwork for what I believe will eventually be a successful second career in performing. I made dramatic improvements to my health by dropping 116 pounds. I should be down to my desired weight in another few months, and I'm planning on running two half-marathons this year and a marathon in another year or two. I've met new friends, and for the first time in over 20 years, I feel like I've found my little place in the world.
I'm not stopping there. I have a tendency to always be pressing forward. As happy as I was with 2010, there's plenty more to accomplish. 2010 was a year for laying a strong foundation, and I'm already looking ahead to see what else I can do.
As far as opportunities, 2011 is already off to a great start. Just two days ago, I became the guitarist for the Atlanta Swing Orchestra. Logan Thomas, who has been the guitarist for the Atlanta Swing Orchestra for 8 years, took a new job that has him traveling a lot. Logan decided that he wasn't going to be able to dedicate the time to the ASO that he would like, so he called me and asked me if I wanted to switch roles, with me being the main guy and Logan subbing. (This is a case in point for my relationship-building approach to finding gigs. If I was the type of sub who was constantly angling to take take the spot, you can bet that Logan wouldn't have called me!)
Now, being the guitarist with the Atlanta Swing Orchestra certainly doesn't mean I can quit my day job – not that I have one. The band doesn't play a lot of gigs. What it does mean is that I have a weekly opportunity to play big band rhythm guitar, which is far and away my favorite type of playing. It also means that I may have more small group gig opportunities simply by spending time with 16 other musicians.
Another exciting opportunity is playing in a pit orchestra for a musical in March, when I'll be playing in Act3 Productions' All Shook Up. First of all, when I was a trombone player, I loved playing in pit orchestras, and so I'm thrilled that I have an opportunity to do some pit playing as a guitarist. On top of that, I've heard nothing but good things about Act3 Productions. It's a fairly new company (just over a year old) that already has good reviews. As far as I understand, they've had a regular guitarist, but he moved to Nashville. If I do a good job with this show, I should slide right into that guitar spot. Assuming it's successful over the long haul, I'm essentially getting in on the ground floor and can grow along with Act3 Productions.
Playing with Act3 Productions is about more than just playing shows. Just as with the Atlanta Swing Orchestra, it's an opportunity to be with other musicians and continue gaining experience and building a reputation for being professional and easy to work with. With Act3, I'll be meeting a new circle of musicians, which will eventually lead to more playing opportunities.
We're still in the first half of January, and this is already a promising year. I can't wait to see what the rest of 2011 brings!
- Tom Godfrey
- Atlanta, GA, United States
- When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995 and have been music director at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation since 2011.