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26: portrait stories


Dear Friend,


Here we are, halfway through the year. Give yourself a hug and take in a giant, refreshing breath; may the next half of this year bring good health, happiness and plenty of restful time for reflection and gratitude.


Have you ever met someone that has an occupation or a hobby for which the person seems to live and breathe? One of my sons began drawing before he could walk. He literally toddled to the table securely strapped in his walker, nabbed a stick of butter out of the butter dish, and before I could figure out what he was doing, he had rolled his walker over to the wall and was using it as a large crayon - for some reason, his entire life, he just had to make marks on things, he just had to make art. And, as a grown up, he makes a good living as an artist.


Frank and I often marvel with gratitude how fortunate we are to have surrounded ourselves with so many kind, talented people. Friends and family that are artists, musicians, athletes, designers, fabricators, writers and more, all passionate people that put deliberate time and energy into their craft, whatever it may be.


In order to really get to know your instrument, it takes work. In order to be able to draw what you think, it takes work. In order to run faster, throw further, pull from imagination to be able to share in a tangible way, it takes building, creating, practicing, working over and over and over. Talented people seem to make it look easy. It’s wonderful, as the world begins to see them, they slowly and surely become famous, they ‘make it,’ they become known for what they do.


When it comes to these creators that ‘make it’ in life, it’s interesting how many ‘fans’ feel that “some people just have it and some people don’t.” They’ll say, “I’ll never be that good.” Ok. Maybe. But even though some people seem to have ‘natural’ abilities, isn’t it possible that they are actually just willing to give that extra time and energy and focus into overcoming the certain and innumerable ‘failures’ that will occur on the way to honing their skills and becoming masterful at their craft?


It takes work, sacrifice, prioritizing time, giving way to their passion; it isn’t magic, it is long hours, patience, focus.


Have you ever kept yourself from trying something because you are afraid that you won’t become famous and because of that, you are too afraid to try because you are too afraid to fail? Keep in mind, these famous people with or without ‘natural abilities’ are still practicing their craft, every day, maybe even right at this very minute.   


Frank and I are collaborating on this letter/blog today. Frank’s nature photos often go un-captioned in my blog/letters; they often speak for themselves.

But today, we’re sharing some of Frank’s commercial work and I’ve asked Frank if he wouldn’t mind adding a short story / description to each of the following portraits. Here is a collection of Frank’s portrait stories:

"I have had the honor and privilege to work with so many passionate artists.
Listed here are pioneers, in some cases, legends. It has been such a joy to spend time with these folks.
I will say right now in a blanket statement that every person mentioned here has enriched my life. They are friends, some, very close personal friends. They are as talented as they are real fine people.
So, with that let’s begin.

Rhonda Smith

Rhonda Smith:
A Canadian Bassist. Known for her amazing bass playing with Prince and Jeff Beck.
Leslie and I have both worked with Rhonda many times capturing her skills for our clients. She is wonderfully graceful, very kind, warm and classy. All at the same time being revered as one of the world’s top bass players. You don’t get to play with Prince, Chaka Khan, Beyoncé’ and Jeff Beck if your game is not outstanding. Hers is Epic! Another video shoot in 2011 ish?

Jeff Beck
Jeff Beck:
Guitar players Guitar player.
Jeff presented his fingers to the fretboard like no other guitar player. Tireless inventor of what an electric guitar could sound like, he played with feeling, mastery and precision. When he played, everybody listened. A romantic troubadour of pure light in the body of a soaring eagle.
A great legend and now very missed by the entire planet. Thank you for all the great music, Jeff.

Al Di Meola

Al Di Meola:
An American Jazz fusion and world music guitarist.
Seen him play countless times with the band “Return to Forever” and on his own.
A true original in his approach to the guitar. He plays with fire in his heart. And wild fire on the frets. I have always enjoyed working with Al, photography and video.

John Petrucci
John Petrucci:
A progressive rock metal lead guitar player. Founding member of the group “Dream Theater.”
Leslie and I have worked with John many times over the years. We have done multiple photo sessions and video interviews and amp demo sessions with John; he is always generous with his time and creative in his approach to each interview. I enjoy his sincere manners, kindness and humor and, of course, his abilities to completely shred the strings off any guitar.

Andy Timmons
Andy Timmons:
A rock, blues and jazz fusion guitar player.
Leslie and I have caught up with Andy many times over the years. We first worked together after flying into Dallas, Texas in the middle of a storm. Lighting, thunder and a tornado that roared over our hotel.
Andy plays from deep inside. His relationship with his guitar is as genuine and amazing as the smile on his face and the kindness in his soul.

Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana:
Most likely needs no introduction.
I have seen him play guitar many times over the years.  I worked with him through Mesa Boogie amplifiers. Carlos has that un-mistakable sustain to his tone. He feels his way from note to note like a true craftsman. And, yes, he is a living legend for sure.
Behind the public view he gives millions of dollars a year to children’s groups through out the world. Thanks, Carlos!

Joe Satriani

Joe Satriani:
Rock Guitarist, composer and songwriter.
Leslie and I recently worked with Joe for IK media. We caught up with him at Sammy Hagar’s studio in Marin.
Joe is very giving of his time. He has a great sense of humor and his stories about his life and how he got started as a musician are some of the best I have ever heard.
And o’yes he plays like a hurricane in overdrive.


Mark Morton and Curtis

Mark Morton:
The lead guitarist and founding member of the heavy metal band “Lamb of God.”
I had the pleasure of working with Mark at his home studio in Virginia, and also on his tour bus with the rest of the band.
Mark is a regular kind of guy. Humble, curious and personable. A fellow dog lover, family man and hot rodder. But up on stage he is the commander and chief of heavy metal guitar. A force to be reckoned with.

Troy Burns

Troy Burns:
Guitar player, Award winning Jade sculptor, and all-around renaissance man. Troy has had a guitar in his hands every single day for as long as I can remember.
Troy and I go back 50 years. We grew up playing music together, raising the roof on many quiet neighborhoods and recording studios.
In his youth, Troy worked for Jerry Garcia as his personal office assistant. Jerry gave him his first electric guitar and every since that time he has ridden the guitar like a bucking bronco, always reinventing his tone and style with great passion and fortitude. A great friend and a brother, Troy is one of my favorite guitar players of all time.

Doug West

Doug West:
Guitar player, Head R & D cat at Mesa Boogie Engineering aka: Tone Boy.
Doug and I also go back 50 years. For as long as I have known Doug, he has practiced his guitar every day for hours - long, focused, hours. I grew up listening to Doug play at countless parties, dances and stages.  His approach to guitar is one of great heart, massive ability and pristine tone.
The last few decades we have worked together creating videos and photography, media collateral for Mesa Boogie.
We are brothers from a different mother. Definitely one of my all-time favorite guitar players and one of my dearest friends."



Thanks, Frank, for the stories and portraits and for all the links to your recordings, videos and photographs.


These people have put in the work and they love what they do but it doesn’t mean that it’s always easy. And though, on stage, they may seem calm, cool and collected, they do get nervous, they forget the chart or the words, they have bad and good days, they sometimes feel disappointed in themselves, but they also laugh, and they encourage each other and they would definitely encourage you, with genuine kindness.


If you want to embrace your passion, it’s never too late! I hope that you do, I’m already a fan.


Thank you for spending this time with us, reading Tracks by the Post. Please write to us and let us know how things are going in your world, and let us know if you need an audience.


Sending wishes for a happy week ahead,


Gently Be,


Leslie and Frank




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