By Johnny Griffith
Hendrix, Stevie Ray, B.B., Eddie, Slash, T-Bone Walker, David Gilmour, Duane Allman, Derek Trucks.
Their names, along with countless others, are etched into our brains and into the history of music along the way. The guitarist. That captivating centerpiece of modern music that constantly amazes us with their creativity and a certain amount of swagger. There are millions of people that day-dream about being a guitarist on stage. Even amongst the tens of thousands of garage guitarists and local legends who play every weekend there are few who possess the chops and that “it” factor who will ever get the opportunity to perform at the next level. But then you have musicians like local guitar prodigy Reece Malone who has packed a lifetime of experience into 16 phenomenal years.
The Longview native and Spring Hill ISD sophomore has been burning up stages since his debut 8 years ago with a resume of performances and endorsements under his belt that would make some of the most seasoned guitarists get excited. A working musician since 10, he’s been part of several projects and is currently chief shredder for Salvation From Sundown. I caught up to him this past month and was able to have a conversation to get to know him a little better.
Johnny: What is your earliest memory of music?
Reece: I remember growing up listening to Van Halen, Deep Purple ,Jimi Hendrix,Ozzy and people like that. I also remember one of my first concerts was seeing ZZ top and Aerosmith and getting to meet the guys from ZZ Top in person!
Johnny: Was guitar the first instrument you picked up? When did you start learning?
Reece: Guitar was the first instrument I picked up and started playing but I started learning by ear at about 6 or 7 years old. The first things I would pick up was stuff like smoke on the water and simple songs like that.
Johnny: Do you play any other instruments currently or is your primary focus guitar?
Reece: My primary focus currently is guitar but I do like to try to play other stuff like drums,bass, and piano.
Johnny: When did you realize you had a true gift for music?
Reece: After playing for the first time in Dallas, realizing how much everyone liked it and thought I was good. As a result, about 8 years old I started taking it more seriously.
Johnny: When and where was your first public performance?
Reece: I remember playing in Lewisville at a place called Coach Joe Avezzano’s Hat Tricks with Lance Lopez when I was around 8 years old.
Johnny: Who have been some of your most significant personal, and musical, influences thus far?
Reece: Lance Lopez has been a huge guide for me in my musical career but people like Jimi Hendrix, Philip Sayce, Eric gales, Derek Trucks & Marcus King are some of my biggest influences.
Johnny: So the first time I saw you perform live was probably the 2016 T Bone Walker Blues Festival in Longview and you were on stage with Lance Lopez and Salvation From Sundown. How did that relationship with Lance and those early years with SFS help shape you into the musician you are now?
Reece: Lance helped with music genre, songs and has even been in the band at one point so he has been a huge influence on me. The band name Salvation From Sundown originates from one of Lance’s albums as well. Lance has introduced me to several people in the industry and given me many opportunities through the years.
Johnny: For someone your age, you’ve got more experience on stage than some people get in a lifetime, what have some of the challenges been along the way with managing the things a teenager has to navigate and chasing the dream most musicians have?
Reece: I haven’t had many things to hold me back. I’ve been super blessed with my school working with me and my parents helping me along the way and all of my friends are understanding when I can’t do stuff with them. My parents are understanding with me doing stuff with my friends also so I’ve had great opportunities to do stuff musically and socially!
Johnny: You’ve had some pretty cool opportunities the last year or so with the Crossroads Festival and I’ve heard about this private event hosted by Gibson where you got to open for a couple of okay guitar players, want to talk about your experience with that?
Reece: I was very excited to be chosen to open up a private event with some really good friends playing all Gibson guitars opening for people like Slash, Don felder, Billy Gibbons , Rick Neilson, Celisse Henderson, Lizzy hale, Jimmy Vivino and several others. Eric Clapton’s Crossroads was also an amazing opportunity to be one of the only local guitarists invited to play the festival. I also performed on the Gibson stage at Winter NAMM in January and while in California I was invited to participate in a charity event Dark Side of the NAMM and played with Steven Perkins(drummer Jane’s Addiction), Stu Hamm (Bass player for Joe Satriani, Steve Vai) Gilby Clarke (Guns N Roses), and Vernon Reid (Living Colour).
Johnny: What are some other highlights of your young, but productive, career?
Reece: At the age of 13 I was invited to play at a halftime show at a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden. I was asked to represent Texas so I played a ZZ Top song. I’ve also had the opportunity to sit in with Marcus King in Dallas at The House of Blues. I’m the youngest guitarist to ever be featured on the cover of Buddy Magazine,which is the oldest music magazine in the state of Texas. I’ve also been professionally endorsed by Gibson Guitars, Ernie Ball Strings & Homestead Amplifiers. I truly have been fortunate so far in my music journey to be surrounded by amazing people and experiences.
Johnny: What is on your radar for 2020 that we should keep our eyes open for?
Reece: I will be playing at the Dallas international guitar festival, Bedford Blues festival, Gibson sponsored events and also many other shows throughout the year. You can look on our band page for more dates!
For more information about Reece and what he’s got going on, follow him on Instagram and Facebook at Reece Malone Music.