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July 2024
Vol. 23, No. 10

Featured Stories

Aaron Lind’s Musical Journey

by Wayne RikerJuly 2024

Aaron Lind

A Boise, Idaho native, 43-year-old Aaron Lind’s circuitous journey to San Diego has been a long and winding road of music, yoga, acrobatics, and world travel. His enthusiasm and dedication to each craft has earned him continuing success and joy in his ongoing life’s journey.

FROM THERE TO HERE
Lind’s first instrument was the ukulele when he was six. His second-grade teacher was a native Hawaiian and taught his class songs and dances for luaus to perform at their end-of-the-year party. “The uke was fun and felt natural to me,” he described. “Around the same time my mom also taught me open chords on the guitar.”

At age nine he began classical piano lessons, which he continued until age 15. “I didn’t feel as interested in the piano; it was more something I was required to do but I made it to a sufficient level of proficiency that I was accepted into the music school at Boise State University.”

Lind got an electric guitar when he was 12 after a friend showed him how to play some Nirvana songs, although it was more of a hobby than a serious pursuit. “I really fell in love with music during my junior year in high school,” he recounted. “A girlfriend introduced me to some of her musical friends and I quickly fell in line jamming with them on guitar, learning the notes on the fretboard, scales, modes, and lots of songs. I was pretty shy then, so music became a way to socialize and make friends,” he continued. “The guitar somehow felt right, even though the organization of the instrument is difficult compared to the visual ease of the piano. I liked the sound and it just felt like the right instrument for me. I spent pretty much every day for the next couple of years playing music with this group of friends and developed a basic ability to improvise during that time.”

After two years at Boise State playing in the big band, studying composition, classical piano, and developing some foundational skills with music theory and ear training, Lind wanted to live somewhere with an active music scene. “I wanted to go to school somewhere where jazz was celebrated in addition to wanting to be somewhere more culturally diverse than Boise—New Orleans was a great choice for all,” he surmised.

From 2001-2008 Lind completed undergrad and graduate degrees at the University of New Orleans, studying guitar there with Hank Mackie and Steve Masakowski, both with strong reputations around the region and beyond as some of the best jazz guitar teachers around. “Hank worked with me mainly on chord melody and Steve gave me some ideas of what I needed to work on to build a better feel of timing in my playing,” Lind recalled. “My main takeaway from working with Steve was just to witness how comfortable a person can be, moving around the fretboard… it was amazing to watch how fast and clean he could play up close.”

Additionally, Lind had a wealth of notable teachers there that propelled his fretboard vocabulary as he praised those mentors. “I took arranging with Harold Battiste, who was a prolific producer and arranger, including working with Sam Cooke and Sonny and Cher, jazz improvisation from Chicago tenor sax great Ed Peterson, who gave me more than a lifetime’s worth of material to practice, and guitarist Brian Seeger in grad school, who was probably my biggest influence.. He was encouraging, a great player, and was like me in that he had learned music as a young adult rather than developing proficiency in childhood. He had an organized way of teaching that worked very well for me,” Lind concluded.

Another important mentor for Lind was Warren Battiste. “I met him when he took me under his wing while sitting in on a friend’s gig in which he would show me the chord voicings that he liked to use. I wound up subbing for him when he was out on tour; I was super green at the time, so it was a really generous offer to get me out playing.”

Gigging overall, Lind didn’t play out much during his first two years in New Orleans. “Most of the students had attended music high schools and were way above my level,” he noted, “so I just wanted to practice and get skills together on my own. I did a lot of open mics and played with friends in the practice and residence halls around campus. I probably learned as much or more from playing with people above my level as from taking classes and lessons,” he stated.

It all paid off when Lind became a fixture in the local club scene after grad school. “I was a regular with seven different bands, including Dr. Sick (of Squirrel Nut Zippers fame), the Soul Heirs, jam band Gravity A, an Afrobeat band called Gov’t Majik, a traditional jazz band, the Dapper Dandies, and a top-40 wedding band called Louisiana Spice. At my peak in New Orleans I gigged 24-25 nights a month.

“I wanted to travel for a living for part of my life, I equated success with making money through travel,” he continued, “I wound up touring for two years with Gravity A. The music was a fun mix of jazz, New Orleans-style funk, and some modern electronic sounds; however, the touring life became really tough. Between two to five weeks of living on a bus, eating random food and playing late nights before driving for hours to the next city after getting off stage at 2am …I’m certainly glad I did it in my early 20s!”

YOGA AND BEYOND

Lind teaching acrobatics. Whitney Shay far left.

Lind’s interest in yoga started when he was 18 while discovering literature on yoga in his parents’ extensive library. “I tried some of the breathing and postures and loved feeling a connection to my body on a significantly deeper level than I ever had,” he exclaimed. “I began to study at studios around New Orleans during grad school and took the first teacher training offered in New Orleans to become a yoga teacher at the Swan River Yoga studio. It felt good to learn and share a source of philosophical and spiritual inspiration; it felt great to have a practice that was fun, challenging, and kept me healthy. Becoming a yoga teacher and later an acrobatics coach also helped me break through some of the shyness and develop my voice and ability to share myself.”

After grad school Lind found himself a yoga teacher by day and a musician by night. “As my yoga teaching progressed, I was introduced to AcroYoga and quickly fell in love with the practice,” he said. “I started traveling to California to take training so I could bring the skills and knowledge back to New Orleans. After a couple years of casual teaching in 2011, I took certification training in Greece where I met other teachers from all over the world.”

Lind rode the sport’s growing wave of popularity and was one of the early teachers to use social media to gain awareness in becoming a popular instructor in the global community. In 2012, he started traveling to teach workshops, festivals, retreats, and teacher trainings all over the states—Canada, Mexico, Europe, and Asia. “Touring as a coach was really easy compared to touring music,” Lind exalted. “Daytime hours, good food, and usually nice places to stay with students. It was fun and rewarding as I developed an incredible set of skills, and at the same time got to see the world from a unique and interesting perspective. Additionally, I learned a lot about my body, my limits, and interpersonal relationships.”

WESTWARD BOUND! 
Missing music and having a regular home schedule, Lind felt like it was time to slow down and live locally again as he began to inch farther west, so in 2018 he moved to Denver. “I wanted to live somewhere healthier and with a more stable political structure than New Orleans, and I wasn’t sure where that was yet. I rented an apartment in Denver, which strategically was one flight away from most of the cities I was going to teach in that year,” he said. “I had a few cities on my radar, but San Diego won hands down. I landed here in January 2020 and immediately felt at home.

“San Diego is by far the friendliest music scene that I have encountered. I’ve played with a lot of the gigging musicians here, and everyone has been wonderful,” Lind beamed. “I’ve had the great fortune to study with local classical guitar icon, Fred Benedetti, for the last couple of years. One of my goals was to be able to perform solo gigs by developing a stronger picking technique. Fred has helped my playing immensely. Now I have a nice two-hour repertoire of classical guitar music that I can now play at appropriate gigs.”

Covid hit soon after Lind landed in San Diego so he had a lot of time on his hands and was feeling a clarion call back to playing music full time and upping his overall musicianship. “I reached out to my current favorite player, Jonathan Kreisberg, to inquire about studying with him,” Lind explained. “Covid had him grounded from touring, too, so I got a couple years of solid work with him. Jonathan has been my most influential teacher. He helped me get my picking technique together and helped me diagnose and correct several areas of weaknesses in my playing. Plus, he’s just a cool guy and we both like working out, so we connected in some areas other than music. I sent him to my physical therapist in New York to help him deal with an injury.”

IMMERSION INTO THE SAN DIEGO MUSIC SCENE
Lind has comfortably melded into the San Diego music scene as his guitar versatility and skills have made him a first-call hire for many performers as he detailed. “I have a steady monthly gig at Turf Club with Leonard Patton that makes my heart so happy. He’s an amazing musician and a great friend.

“Bounce Pocket is another very special project to me. We started during Covid, most of us recent transplants. Everyone in the band is an incredible musician, and the tunes are either composed spontaneously or meticulously crafted during rehearsals with everyone contributing parts to create songs and arrangements. We just released a two-song EP that I’m really proud of that is currently up on all streaming platforms.

“Bulbancha Ya Ya is Tony Econom’s New Orleans-centric project. I’m in a supporting role and it feels so homey to play that music with such great musicians. We have a really nice gig at Lou Lou’s coming up on July 6!

“Whitney Shay is an amazing partner and musician, and it has been so fun and rewarding on a lot of levels to be able to gig with her, both as a duo and with her band.”

Lind has also been involved as a guitarist for the Voices of Our City Choir. “It has been rewarding on every level; I’m so grateful to be a part of such an incredible service to our city’s unhoused population,” he exuded. “It’s so cool to see the level of humanity and empowerment that they have accomplished. I’ve met some incredible people that I work with outside the choir, one being Carter Key, a super inspiring keys and trombone player.”

Lind with Leonard Patton and the Big Zapper at the Turf Club.

A common pattern for seasoned sidemen like Lind is to finally establish yourself with your own group as leader calling the musical shots, so earlier this year he made it happen. “I’m a new band leader now,” Lind proclaimed. “I thought starting with an organ trio would be fun and would fit the musical community here. Lind explained how he has a rotating cast depending on who is available for each gig. On drums, Tony Econom and Justin Joyce; on organ Chase Pado and Carter Key. “Each trio has a different feel and I enjoy what each member brings to the table. I feel super lucky to get to work with these guys and each inspires me to be my best and beyond in their own ways.

“About the drummers, Tony brings an amazing groove and energy and a lot of fun interactions. He’s great at conducting dramatic moments and brings a variety of authentic New Orleans rhythms that make me feel like I’m there again. Justin is absolutely rock solid, steady, professional, listens really well, and always seems to know exactly what the music needs before I even give him a look.

“About the organ chair, Chase brings an amazing sense of rhythm and an uncanny ability to conduct musical moments nonverbally. His left-hand bass playing drives hard and is really something to witness. He’s also a daring improviser and has shown me how openness and trust in the band can let the music go to new and surprising places. Carter brings a highly developed sense of harmony, tension and release, and linear playing. His harmonic sensibility and lines really inspire me and the way he can build dynamics and tension through multiple choruses is so cool.

“I’ve had some great gigs so far, playing at the Encinitas Public Library, two really nice shows at Lou Lou’s Jungle Room (at the Lafayette Hotel), Panama 66, and a few more dates coming up this summer. I’m loving being the one organizing and making the song selections.”

TEACHING GUITAR 
Lind’s approach to teaching guitar is a lot different than the typical guitar lesson setup. “My approach to teaching is something I’ve developed over the past couple years. My coaching program starts with a meeting to discuss and set reasonable goals unique to each student. We then meet in person once a week and on zoom once a week for three months and hit waypoints to make sure we reach our goals. I have a running dialogue with each student on WhatsApp and am more or less on call for any support they might need on a day-to-day basis. I’m an active participant in their process and am by their side for whatever they need. I charge more than typical lessons because I put much more of my personal time into communicating, planning, and preparing material, but I feel really good with the results I’ve gotten so far. I know what my students are working on, where they are at with skills and repertoire, and always have a good idea about what kind of support they will need,” he detailed. “So far I have one of my coaching students out gigging regularly as a sideman, another that just had her first Belly Up Tavern and Music Box shows as a leader, and several more that will hopefully be out at open mics and cutting their teeth soon!”

The exciting news is that Lind will be teaching classical guitar classes in the fall at Grossmont College; here’s his schedule:

Class ID: MUS-126-3917      
Class Guitar I
8/19/2024-12/16/2024
Grossmont College

Class ID: 26 221 (LEC)
Sat. 10am-noon
8/19/2024 – 12/16/2024


IN HIS OWN WORDS
“I’m grateful to have landed here in my new home of San Diego. I feel like there’s a lot that I’ve received from friends and community and that I have a lot to give back as well. I’m excited to keep developing myself as a musician so I have more to share at gigs and with my students. I’ve lived a lot and been through a lot, and all that is driving me forward now.

“Looking back, I’ve done a lot both with music and movement (yoga and acrobatics), traveled all over the world, created, experienced, and learned a lot.

“I’m so grateful for everyone with whom I’ve worked, trained, taught, traveled, learned from, and experienced life’s ups and downs with. It now feels like I have the wind at my back, and I’m so excited to keep going with all of my experiences, losses, and gains guiding me forward…thank you everyone that has been somewhere with me.”

 

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