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Paul Heilker

I’ve been playing guitar since I turned 13, so 40 years now. My father was a music teacher, so I played every band instrument under the sun for two weeks. He never gave me any grief when I quit – and quit and quit – which let me keep searching. And when I said I wanted to play guitar, he went out and bought me the black Gibson Les Paul Custom I still play when I go electric.

Music has a lovely way of constantly pushing me out of my comfort zone. It is wonderfully (and horribly) open-ended: I can always be better. There’s a nervous energy I feel beforehand. I used to call it “stagefright.” Then I realized that physiologically, it is exactly the same sensation that I get when I am running in a race, when all the runners are gathered at the start line before the gun goes off. It’s not stagefright: I’m just worked up and eager to get going!

Paul sings and plays guitar (specifically, his mother’s 1953 Martin 00-17, which she bought new for $100 at Wurlitzer’s Music in New York City). 




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