To most musicians, being unknown is the kiss of death. Especially if no one beyond your family and a few friends know who you are. To that end, a lot of musicians are constantly working to expand their network and often get a little boost from instrument and gear makers. This is often called getting an endorsement.
I have multiple musician and producer friends who look at me and admire my ability to secure endorsements. It’s all perspective really. I don’t think I do it all that well. But I’m not on the outside looking at me. Part of the reason for that is because of how long it took me to get a particular endorsement from a major guitar maker.
Playing a bunch of shows around the LA area, and getting a little award got me feeling like I was on the right path for a bit more name recognition for my music.
For three years I was attempting to court Taylor Guitars because I really loved their guitars. Each time I was able to talk to them and show them what was going on, I’d get a we’ll get back to you response.
One night I was at a venue in San Diego for a songwriter’s event and performance with a bass playing friend by the name of Seth Horan [he’s one talented motherfucker if you ever look him up].
We happened to see a guy named Steve White who was playing this awesome acoustic blues stuff with a box on the floor for his feet for percussion. In turn, he watched each of us play too.
Steve, Seth and I were sitting next to each other shooting the shit for a while during that event. Somehow the subject of Taylor Guitars came up as Steve had one and Seth and I were interested in them. As it happened Steve was endorsed by Taylor and told us he’d help us out in terms of getting in the door, provided we’d be at NAMM.
A couple of months later NAMM rolled around. As it happened, Steve was performing at the NAMM booth. I showed up to catch the tale end of his performance. As he finished, I walked over to him and he walked right up to me and said it was nice to see me again. At that very moment Taylor’s A&R guy, Bob Borbonus, walked up.
Before things went any further Steve immediately introduced me to Bob. We shook hands and at that moment two other friends of mine that I didn’t know were Taylor Guitar endorsees walked up. Now the 5 of us are all standing around chatting and I’m sorta the odd one out. I did have a press kit to give Bob, but instead he asked if I was performing somewhere during NAMM. I mentioned that I was playing at the Marriott Hotel in the lobby that evening.
Bob said that was the hotel he was staying in and that he’d stop by to check me out. He didn’t want the press kit, he wanted to see me live.
That evening rolls around and I’m about halfway thru my set when I see Bob walk into the area. He stops for about 30 seconds and walks off to the bar around the corner. The song I was playing at the time “Sex (everybody ‘s talkin’ ’bout).” Yes, I very specifically remember that. As in my head I thought, fuck I must sound like shit for him to not stick around. Mind you, I was also playing a borrowed acoustic guitar, not a Taylor.
When my set finished, I walked over to the bar area to try and find him.
I found him and the first thing he says to me is: You need to be playing a Taylor!
We started chatting about life and some music related things. Bob is a really cool guy and he’s really easy to chat with.
While we were chatting the Australian Taylor Guitar rep came up to us [mind you he was pretty toasted and drinking] and says: “Mate! Your fuckin playing is brilliant! But stop playing that shitty guitar and get a Taylor.”
To which Bob interjected: It’s already taken care of.
And just like that, I was inducted into the Taylor family and have been very happy ever since.