Written by Sal Costa (Smashing Satellites)
Music was a part of my life since the day I was born. My mother was a young poet. My eldest sister, Cathy, was a classical pianist, and my middle sister, Monique, was a ‘90s “grunge girl” with a ridiculous record collection and an eclectic group of friends to match. My father, although not musical, was extremely creative with his hands. He would make me toys, robots and all kinds of stuff. Music, passion and creative energy is in my family’s blood, and was passed through to me. Even before I started playing an instrument, I just knew in my bones that I was supposed to be on stage performing. I didn’t know what at the time, but I just knew that I was meant to be on stage. I felt that I needed to help people through life and music to be understood.
“My Rock and Roll Journey” is all about helping people to feel understood. We all just want to feel like we have a place. Even those of us who are hippies and free spirits at heart all want to feel like there is someone out there who understands us. We all go through the same things in life, so I felt like my journey was to write about it and share it with the world. A lot of the time, the struggles that we go through are struggles that we don’t always feel like we can talk about because of stereotypes and judgment. I wanted to put all of these subjects on the table so that no one ever feels alone.
I started off playing the piano when I was about 3 or 4 years old because I admired Cathy so much. I wanted to be just like her. She had elegance and class in her playing, and she could play anything that you put in front of her. However, when I started playing piano, I realized that my gift and talent was different than hers. I could not sight read music very well; it was a real struggle for me. My gift was being able to listen to music in my head and playing it.
I began writing my own melodies and songs, and stopped taking lessons because I felt that, in my heart, what I needed to learn was going to be learned through experience and life. A few years later, Monique bought me my first acoustic guitar (I still have it and use it to this day), and I was off to the races. All I wanted was to be the BEST guitar player I could be, so I started taking guitar lessons.
I am very fortunate that my parents found my guitar teacher, Frank Cosentino. He taught at KAOS Music in Toronto, Ontario. Frank got me. At a young age, he was able to identify that my skill was not going to be learning other peoples’ songs and tricks, but rather digging deep and finding my own. Since day one, I was never good at being (or trying to be) like anyone else, so rather than teach me, Frank guided me into finding my voice through the guitar. We would put on instrumental backing tracks and just freeform jam the whole lesson. Through all of this jamming, I learned how to play the guitar using my own expression.
MANY times, I would come home and my mom would be concerned. She would ask questions like…“Are you not learning notes? How come you never use your music book? What the heck is Frank teaching you?” Nonetheless, my mom saw that I was happy, and she kept sending me to Frank for lessons. Years later, she would understand what he taught me. He was more than a guitar teacher. He was a mentor. He threw gasoline on the fire, and we started burning down the woods.
Although Frank had me focused on finding my own sound early on, there are a number of artists from various genres that were a big influence on me. In the next chapter of “My Rock and Roll Journey,” I will be discussing these artists, and the defining moment that changed everything for me after seeing one particular video on MTV when I was 8-years old.