Had a visit from Greg Loman, a local guitar ace from whom I took a few lessons several years ago (my skills increased about 10 fold – Okay, so I had nowhere to go but up). In this post Napster all-music-should-be-free business environment every musician has to be an entrepreneur, and Greg is no exception – but he goes it one further and is also a social music entrepreneur. In addition to cobbling together a livelihood by playing in two bands, doing the odd gig (yes, even the occasional wedding in the summer), teaching guitar at the International School, and tutoring students starting as low as 4 years old, Greg also takes on a special client group: war vet amputees at Walter Reed. His program is called “Musicorps”.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you might remember that during the Iraq War (is it over?) I stumbled upon a group of Walter Reed vets who had been invited to dinner by one of the local restauranteurs. Meeting all those young people who had been been separated from their arms, legs, and in some cases both was an experience I shall carry with me all my life.
Greg initially volunteered his services, but his client book grew to the point where he could no longer tutor the vets for free an so the Hospital finally broke down and offered him a small stipend.
“Initially, some of my students were reticent about taking me up on my offer,” says Greg. “They spend a lot of time just playing video games. But I noticed many of them had guitars, they just hadn’t played them since being wounded.”
One of Greg’s students lost his right arm, and learned to hold the pick with his prosthetic limb. Another, who had summered a head injury, didn’t appear to have retained anything Greg taught him over the course of a year. And then, one day, out of the blue, he started playing one of the songs Greg taught him.
“It was one of the most amazing moments in life,” says Greg.
We rocked past midnight, with my daughter, Michelle, lending her incomparable voice to the mix. Greg can do Jimi like no one I’ve ever heard.
Check it out his website, gregloman.com, check out his awesome music and see where he’s playing next.
You won’t regret it. And you’ll be supporting a fine local musician, and an even finer human being.