All Guitar Vero Contest, Part 1

I joined the Vero network back in late January/early February as I saw KT Tunstall announce the first #VeroGreatGuitarGiveaway contest, and I thought I might give it a shot. I then got ridiculously busy with other work, and the contest – and the networking – just got put on hold.

I have been following Norman’s Rare Guitars for a good while, more than a year if not two, as I follow quite a number of musicians and creatives now on YouTube, and other channels too. One cannot learn about musicianship, performance and the music business alone, and it’s worth finding inspiration from people you like on YouTube, as well as other social media.

I could devote an entire blog (or two) just to the people I follow, and why, but that’s for another time. Suffice it to say that Norm’s ‘Guitar of the Day’ features had become regular viewing for me, and particularly the very talented presenters were already familiar: Michael Lemmo, Jen (behind the camera), Todd, Nick, and of course, Norman Harris himself, plus guest players that over time have included: Joe Bonamassa, session-man Tim Pierce, actor and guitarist Frank Stallone (Sylvester’s brother), Marc Mann and Steve Postell, to name but a handful.

So when I saw Norman’s Rare Guitars announcing a second #AllGuitarVeroContest, with Tim Pierce (another YouTuber that I follow) and Michael Lemmo as judges, I have to say it awakened my interest again. As I’m already a fan of Taylor Guitars, the main prize of a Taylor 717 Grand Pacific was really appealing, as well as the four runner up prizes of Taylor Academy Series guitars too. The entry: a one-minute guitar piece of my own composition, seemed do-able, and I thought I might stand a chance of winning maybe a runner-up prize, but I’m no flashy lead guitarist, so I didn’t expect much, more a chance of making a few new friends on Vero if it caught someone’s ears.

Previously, I had posted short clips of a new song in progress: ‘Whispers of Home’, onto Instagram, and showed its progress from simple ‘noodled’ idea to recorded song, called: ‘Anatomy of a New Song’, and so I knew the end-sequence could fit nicely into just under a minute. I recorded it in one take on the 20th June, and submitted it off to Vero, and their competition partners the All Guitar Network, Taylor Guitars, and Norm’s, with a little tongue-in-cheek intro, from ‘Westy’s Cabin’ (my garage-studio really). And then got busy again…

As one or two of you readers might know, my wife Claire and I have a strange hobby (to some, anyway) in that we fly hot air balloons. In particular, once the Summer season begins we can be away quite a bit, in particular late-July-early-August time we head off to France for our favourite mass European gathering of flying ‘loonies in Chambley, Lorraine region, officially now the largest line-up and launch of hot-air balloons in the World.

We had just completed our ten-day tour of Chambley and were visiting friends elsewhere in France, when, by chance, I had interrupted sleep one night (after one too many cognacs…), and was sat up in bed at 3am looking at my phone messages. Lucky that I did, because one of them was a chat text from Nikke at Vero, saying that I had won the All Guitar Vero Contest, and that she had been trying to contact me!

Because I was in rural France at the time, I hadn’t even seen that I was being considered, and had already been posted on one of the preliminary ‘Judges Favorites’ videos. So the first thing I saw was the announcement of the winner: