By Jim Caroompas
Doug Wendt does what a lot of guitarists wish they could do: he plays guitar for his day job. He combines performing live, including every Thursday night at Haute Stuff restaurant on Main Street, with teaching at Good Stuff Guitar Shop.
Doug goes against the grain when it comes to the standard notion of guitar players; he is quiet and self-effacing. But when he plays a Bach or Scarlatti piece, you can hear his soul pour forth from the soundboard and strings.
Doug has been, and remains, the primary guitar teacher in Martinez. Quite a few players, and those who want to be players, have begun their musical journey with lessons from Doug.
Martinez Patch caught up with him and he was kind enough to answer a few questions for this week’s Music Monday.
Q: When did you start playing guitar?
I was attracted to the guitar at an early age, probably from the rock music I heard on the radio, and got my first guitar when I was eight. Unfortunately, I didn't learn to play at that time as I had no one to show me how. When I was fourteen, I took piano lessons for a year. When I was fifteen, I began to learn guitar chords and scales from my high school friends. At nineteen, after hearing someone in a bookstore playing classical guitar, I began taking classical guitar lessons.
Q: What or who inspired you?
I grew up listening to classical, jazz and rock music and I aquired a varied taste. In my twenties I went to Diablo Valley Collage where I studied Music theory and Harmony. I got my B.A. in Music Performance at CSU Hayward.
Q: Who are your favorite classical composers?
My favourite classical composer is J.S. Bach, though very challenging to play on guitar. His music is always revealing something new to me, even pieces I've been playing for years. And it is so well constructed - not a wasted note. Other composers I'm fond of : Hector Villa-Lobos, Dominico Scarlatti, Antonio Lauro.
Q: Where do you perform classical guitar?
I play classical guitar at Haute Stuff Restaurant in Martinez every Thursday evening. Also, I play at Gordon Roland's concert series in Novato, CA, the Sacramento Guitar Society, weddings, dinner parties and so on.
Q: You also play in other groups. Which ones, and where do those groups play?
My jazz group is Dangerous Martini, consisting of guitar, bass, saxophone, drums and female vocalist. We play at Armando's in Martinez and various other public and private functions. I also perform with my wife, Deborah, pianist and singer of French songs, standards and originals.
Q: How many students do you have?
I have taught guitar on and off for thirty years and consistently for the last ten. While I have had as many as fifty regular weekly students, my teaching load has been reduced due to our struggling economy.
Q: Do you find it difficult being a full-time musician?
Though I may not be living on Easy Street any time soon, I love being a full time musician. I get up every morning and work on my music. Later in the day I teach guitar. If I'm lucky, I'll be playing somewhere in the evening. Suits me.