This guest post is by musician Nick Guzman who has autism and played at Autism Speaks' Light Up the Blues event in Los Angeles.
One of the first songs I learned to play on guitar was "Helplessly Hoping" when I was 11 years old. I have always loved the sound of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
Fast forward to 2011 when Elaine Hall called my house to ask if I would like to perform for the Miracle Project at an event called “Autism is Awesomeism”. This is when I got to meet Stephen Stills and Jack Black at the Grove in Los Angeles. I played Ray LaMontagne’s “Beg, Steal or Borrow” and after I walked off stage Jack Black told me I sounded like Neil Young! It was a huge surprise that later that day I was asked to perform “Helplessly Hoping" with Stephen Stills himself, along with Lexi Aaron from the Miracle Project. What an amazing experience!
They say miracles don’t happen twice but I am here to say they do! Two years later the magic started happening again! Elaine asked if I would like to perform with Crosby, Stills and Nash at the Light Up the Blues Concert, an Autism Speaks event. I couldn’t believe I would be meeting and playing with this legendary super group of rock and roll! The list of performers for the concert were some of my favorites, Ryan Adams, Rickie Lee Jones, Lucinda Williams, Former Eagles guitarist Don Felder and Chris Stills (who looks like his dad in 1968!).
The song I chose to sing was “Almost Cut My Hair”. I liked music so much that when I was little my mom used music to get me to do things I didn’t want to do, like cut my hair! She would call me from my room to give me a hair cut but I wouldn’t budge. So she tried playing one of my favorites songs, “Almost Cut My Hair”, and that is how she got me to come out of my boy cave and eventually cut my hair.
The day before the event we all got to rehearse at the studio with Crosby, Stills and Nash and their families. One of the greatest compliments I received was from Jan Crosby, after rehearsing “Almost Cut My Hair” she said that I sounded like David!
The day of the concert was amazing and I could hardly believe I was there! I got to hear Don Felder rehearsing his iconic song “Hotel California” just a few feet away. I instantly became a big fan of Chris Stills too, who is an amazing music man. Keep your ear out for him!
There was Rickie Lee Jones practicing “Chuck E’s in Love” and I was diggin’ Lucinda Williams singing “Joy”.
Jack Black MC’d the event and was so funny! I loved every moment of this amazing opportunity! I got interviewed and got to walk the “Blue Carpet” and take photos with everyone.
It was a great feeling singin’ on stage with Stephen Stills rippin’ it on the electric guitar! I can’t say I wasn’t nervous but nothing was going to stop me from doing it, including the butterflies in my stomach! We got a standing ovation and David Crosby came out on stage and gave me hug! Then everyone came back on stage to sing the finale "Teach Your Children", it was so thrilling to be up there with everyone.
Wow, an evening to remember for sure! When I ran into Graham Nash later on he told me I "F’in rocked it", several times! He signed my guitar “To my friend Nick, you sang great, even Croz loved it! Graham Nash".
I never sang in front of 2,500 people before but it all worked out.
You can watch the whole evening on DVD which is available now on Itunes here! Rock on!