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Guitarist Anthony Mancini Asks How Did I Get “Here” and How To See Past “Now”?

Anthony Mancini

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What musician doesn’t dream about that day they get to record on a session for an artist or the day they get to perform in front of a giant crowd?  

Somehow I have managed to sneak my way into doing some of both.  Doing so full-time in 2020 is not a career path for the weak-spirited, and yet I feel like I have managed to make my dream a reality by doing what I want to do.  How in the world did I get “here” and where is “here” really? 

I graduated from Kennesaw State University’s music program, where I studied with Trey Wright some years ago and immediately began teaching public school. Once that ended I was worried about what my next career move was. The “here” began with my hitting every local jam session I could.  I still have notes on my iPhone from specific dates listing things like: songs that were performed, personnel at the jam, arrangements, keys, and anything I knew I needed to check out later. While the jam was still fresh in my mind,  I would find reference recordings and add notes in a master spreadsheet to note differences in what was idiomatic of the tune and separate that from the particular version I had just heard.  I did that for about a year before I ever even tried to play anywhere. (This is of course excluding typical bar band rock that is prevalent in my local.)

A few years ago I befriended a drummer and a fellow MONSTER guitarist at a spot I had been frequenting, and we noticed we shared a ton of common interests musically.  The “here” evolved because we got steady work playing several pickup gigs every week at which we would try to play anything we wanted. Worth noting, the regulars at these bars are rather musically affluent and enjoyed hearing everything from Chick Corea to Usher.  Later, I started posting some videos on Instagram showing random ideas or arrangements of tunes it seemed to be a way to keep ideas for the gigs as well as a means to keep pushing myself to get better.

A ton of gigs later, I have learned what my musical tendencies are and have learned what I do well and what I am pretty awful at.  I will never be a traditional straight-ahead guy, but that does not mean it isn’t some of my favorite music.  So where is “here?” “Here” is currently represented by my somehow being approached to do work that I was not ready for and simply spending egregious amounts of effort to be able to do the best I could given the requirements of the gig. Before every eventual evolution of “here“, I would define a set of goals I personally deemed pertinent to be able to do what I wanted to do well.  By simply establishing the clear and defined goals, often achieving them was and is simply a matter of exertion.

“Now” my days consist of a great deal of recording at home and in some studios with some live stuff scattered in.  Once I started getting asked to record for some people, I asked myself how to even begin doing so.  My primary goal is to make a living playing music full-time.  Once that goal was decided, I started seeking out people doing the same thing in order to set a metric to be able to achieve that goal.  Since I have no intention nor possibility of being famous, I chose to play or record for basically anything given the appropriate compensation and interest in the project.  This choice has allowed me to record:  demos for local artists, live performances/tracking gigs, background music for parties/exhibits, tracks for church services, sample noises for libraries, nursery rhyme tracks, guest spots (which I find humorous because I am nobody), full albums worth of guitar, singles and remixes for larger artists. 

So…how did I get “Here” and how to see past “Now?  

  • I found the great players LOCALLY! Everywhere has incredible players and those are who you need to learn from. They are right here and are really whom I have grown the most from.
  • Check out non-local players on platforms like Instagram.  They are real people, and most will respond to honest questions asked with good intent. 
  • Lastly, don’t stop practicing what you know you are honestly bad at. Right now I have years worth of stuff I want to work on. As a matter of fact, it’s time for me to hit the shed…

More on Anthony Mancini

Anthony Mancini has recorded for: Musiq Soulchild, Kehlani, Melanie Amaro, A-Lex, The Wicked Band of Misfits and many more… has performed with: Wycliffe Gordon, Eric Alexander, Joe Farnsworth, Rahbi, The dReam Center (William Murphy III) and many more…

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