For The Love of the Game

You've heard the old joke a thousand times. What do you call someone who puts $5000 worth of gear into a $500 car and drives 100 miles to earn $50? A musician. Sure, there are guys who make a living at it. Some who even make a KILLING at it. But for most of us, it's a labor of love. A passion. Why do we spend the money and put in the hours? Because at the end of the day, it's in our souls. In our DNA. We can't NOT do it, at least on some level. We are the music makers, and even if the best we can do is a shaky "Brown Eyed Girl" in the garage with a couple of friends? We'll take it. But an interesting thing happens when we venture beyond the garage. Get a decent gig. Make a little noise. Get a little attention. We develop a common infection.


It can be quite a blow to realize that someone, somewhere, hates you. And for no good reason, really. Jealousy. Pettiness. Insecurity. Who knows? But they are out there. I'll never forget the first time I saw it first hand. It was on Facebook. And for some reason, people don't seem to understand that Facebook is pretty wide open. If you say it, lots of people can see it. So, my band had just been voted best band in my hometown for the second year running, and we had just released our very first original song. It was quite well received. Until someone sent me a link to a conversation where a few local musicians were absolutely hatefully tearing us to pieces. I'm not gonna lie. It hurt my feelings a lot. I had never really had any successes on that level. And these guys were merciless. It affected me. I had thought of them as peers. Colleagues. It was unwarranted and downright cruel. Haters, as they say, gonna hate. It was a good lesson for me. I learned that day, that anything you do to rise above the pack will instantly bring wrath upon you.

“The only way to avoid pissing people off is to do nothing important.” — Oliver Emberton

My skin thickened over the years. It happens a lot. I work hard in many areas to develop not only my playing, but my reputation as well. My brand. I take every opportunity to get my name out there. And for that, they call me arrogant. Take shots where they can. It won't change.

Within the last year I discovered a passion for luthiery, after taking on an internship with a local guitar maker. It's been an amazing journey of learning and expressing creativity in an entirely different venue. We aren't simply assembling pre made parts. We take blocks of wood, and create guitars. And I love every minute of it. I built my own signature guitar under my mentors close supervision, and it's the finest instrument I've ever played. We build for some very fine players, and craftsmanship is paramount.

An acquaintance of mine does guitar repairs, and aspires to build. He's worked on my guitars in the past, and I've recommended him often. He got one of my company's guitars in, and proceeded to go on a social media tirade about the poor quality. Calling us arrogant and greedy for taking people's money. The actual owner of the guitar had no complaints, and had only taken it to this guy for a restring! But he completely disassembled the guitar, took files and reshaped the neck, and performed, in his words, "major surgery." Slanderous comments all over social media. No SPECIFIC issues mentioned. No opportunity for us to address any issues with the piece, if they actually existed. Just a total smear campaign. The owner of the guitar had asked for none of this, had no complaints with the guitar, and neither of them said a word to us before this guy started running us down to anyone who would listen. My boss called him on it and he stopped. Publicly anyway.

Fast forward a few weeks later, someone tells me he's at it again. Not about the guitar this time. But me personally. Now, this cat is barely on my radar as an acquaintance. I never had an issue with him, but we aren't close. He posts a vague status about insults from a "guy new to the game" and in the 40+ comments says some pretty unbelievable things, including thinly veiled threats about me "getting mine" and his desire to catch me in the streets. (I confess I chuckled at that one. I've got a solid 50lbs on the guy, and seriously couldn't imagine him attempting a physical altercation). He and his friends railed about me for the span of a day, many of the comments evidencing previous conversations about me, even making statements about me needing to practice playing so that I could keep up with the players I "run my mouth" about. I was stunned! I've never said anything derogatory about any of my fellow musicians. And I've never said anything publicly about the guy trying so desperately to discredit me in any way he can, for reasons unknown. Haters gonna hate. And lie. And slander.

I wanted to comment back. Ask his sources. Maybe even invite him to come find me. But in the end, I did something rather revolutionary. I let it go. Despite my anger and frustration, I resisted the urge to respond. I took the high road. I let him have his bashing session and simply didn't react at all. His statements were either misinterpretation, misinformation, or outright lies, and his vitriol and rhetoric were borderline irrational. He was not going to hear me. He had already fed his lies and anger to his circle of people. Any action on my part would only fuel him, and it wasn't worth my time. Despite the comments about my lack of professionalism, I knew the truth. I had said nothing about him. Or anyone else. And he had twice taken an opportunity to bash me to anyone who would listen. Ironically, what he claimed to be mad at me for. I simply decided it wasn't worth my time. My energy. My attention. It took a day or so to get over the desire to defend my good name. But ultimately there was no way to overcome his irrationally. I e heard the expression "I won't even dignify that with a response." It was appropriate for this situation. So, I just walked away.

 “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” ― Winston S. Churchill

You'll find that the typical hater is mostly mad at themselves, and your success highlights their failures. It honestly has very little to do with you, other than you become a convenient target. Their own frustrations, insecurities, and inadequacies make them miserable. They need to hold you back. Tear you down. Discredit you. It some how makes them feel better about themselves.

The truth is simply this. When you begin to break into larger realms, there will be detractors. So you must remember the love. Remember how good it felt to play that first song with a group. Remember how good it feels when that block of wood becomes a perfect guitar neck. And remember that being great is admirable, but at the end of the day, we do what we do because we love it. Because it's our passion. Its who we are. Haters are most definitely gonna hate. But we aren't here for them. We are here for those that love us. The fans who come to hear our song. The customers who rave about our custom guitars. And most importantly. We are here for ourselves. It's who we are. It's what we do. We are here for the love of the game.


Stevie Shred has played guitar for over 25 years, has performed all over the United States, Canada, and Europe, with musical projects ranging from solo acoustic to melodic death metal to shred instrumental guitar. His current project, Red Reign, recorded their debut self titled cd with Grammy Winning Producer David Ivory (Patti Labelle, The Roots, Halestorm) and is currently being shopped to labels. Stevie also currently performs with Sweet Justice, a classic rock cover band, playing throughout the Mid Atlantic region, in addition to session work for video and product demonstration. Stevie has also recently begun working with Phat Guitars in Glen Allen VA as a luthier, hand crafting guitars.

Stevie currently uses and endorses Phat Guitars, Sfarzo Strings, and 69Chosen Custom Stagewear.

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