This is my first ever Guitar mag cover story.
“Are you sure?’ ‘No, that can’t be!’ ‘Really?!”
I’ve been mentioned on a cover, photographed with other guitarists on a cover and once or twice put in those little squares on the corner. But never a full, genuine, honest to god ‘cover story.’
When you’ve been in the guitar game as long as I have, you no longer think about stuff like this. I figured if it hasn’t happened at this point, it’s probably not going to, which is fine by me- there are many musicians just as deserving as I am (if not more), who haven’t had nearly the press I’ve gotten over the years. I can’t complain. But sometimes it’s a pleasant surprise to be wrong.
There were many thoughts that crossed my mind when I saw it.
First, it’s a huge honor, one that is to be accepted with humility and gratitude. Anything less would be a disrespectful, cheapening of the moment. I do, however, admit flirting with a tiny wave of childlike excitement, imagining myself as rap artist and shameless celebrity Sean’Diddy,’ Combs, cracking open a bottle of Cirac, flaunting the magazine and boasting out loud to all within earshot ‘Yeah, yeah, das right muthafuckas!’
But in all seriousness, these thoughts quickly dissipated. I suppose vanity’s never been my strong suit. And as the reality sunk in, some thoughts much more deep took hold…
It is a Polish magazine, ‘Top Guitar’ that has made the bold move of finally putting me on a cover. And the fact that this magazine comes from Poland is significant.
My grandfather came over from that country as a little boy in the early 1900’s. They came on a ship, his mom (my great grandmother) and several other siblings. They were processed on Ellis Island, given ‘American’ sounding first names and, like many other Jewish immigrants, settled in Brooklyn. It’s a damn good thing they came over too. Because if they’d been in Poland during WWII Nazi occupation, a few decades later, I wouldn’t be here.
The tiny town (Shtetl) in Poland where my Grandpa was born is Pyunyitza. It’s 8 kilometers from the labor/death camp known as Treblinka. There were some survivors from Warsaw but few, if any, from Pyunitza. Luckily my Grandfather’s family had gotten out and came to the US all those years earlier.
So to get this kind of recognition from the very country where my grandfather was born and fled 100 yrs ago is amazing. It stirs appreciation for the US & it’s potential, as well as resistance to all these right wing, anti-immigration rants by people who don’t know better.
Being on the cover of a magazine is an unexpected but nice acknowledgement; a sign that all the focus, sacrifice, hard work, dedication, and fighting for what you believe in has not gone unnoticed. But having that cover represent a triumph over one of the most terrible chapters in human history, one narrowly avoided by your own ancestors of several generations ago, represents something far more meaningful than media exposure.