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May Student Spotlight: Keith Shelton

Our May 2024 Student Spotlight highlights a long-time guitar player and Stages student Keith Shelton. Proving it’s never too late to invest in your dreams, Keith is a student of Charles Simon and has played in many Stages bands and also gigs around Baltimore. Read on to learn why Charles nominated Keith for this honor and hear from the man himself about his musical influences, goals and more.

Keith Shelton started lessons with me in 2017, and during our time together I have seen tremendous growth. He’s always been an internally motivated musician who works hard to achieve his musical goals. Over the years, Keith has stretched out of his comfort zone to tackle new styles, techniques and approaches to the instrument while maintaining a solid foundation based in a strong sense of rhythm and musicality. In the last year, Keith joined a professionally gigging cover band and is breaking through old plateaus. I couldn’t be more proud of his achievements!

Charles SimonInstructor & General Manager

What is your instrument and how long have you been playing?

I started playing acoustic guitar in the mid-1980’s. I bought my first electric guitar/amp combination about 10 years ago. The first song I learned to play was “Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. 

What kind of music do you like to listen to and play?

Rock and blues, with a sprinkling of country. The first song I remember singing – “Cotton Fields Back Home” – was a song written by Leadbelly in 1940, although I’m sure that is not the version I heard as a child. My mother heard me singing it and thought I wrote it.

What’s your favorite thing about Stages or do you have a favorite Stages memory?

Stages gave me the opportunity to play in a band setting for the first time.  Joining a jam band at Stages was a new experience for me and allowed me to grow as a musician and performer. The first time I played with a band live on a stage was at a Stages Jambourree, where we played songs by Foreigner, Tom Petty & more. 

What are your musical goals?

My goal is to become a better guitar player every day. My goal use to be to play in a gigging band, but I have reached that goal!

What are your hobbies or interests besides music?

Family and friends, and my sweet wife Marcie.

What inspired you to start playing music?

The way music makes me feel when I hear a great song such as “Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” by Bob Dylan.

If you could collaborate with any musician, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Probably Stevie Wonder because I love his music, his creativity and he seems like a good person. 

What do you love most about playing music?

It’s fun and I love the sense of accomplishment when something sounds good. 

Who are the musicians that inspire you most?

Jim Croce, Gordon Lightfoot, Ronnie Van Zant, Hank Williams Sr., Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton

Who is your teacher and what do you appreciate about them?

My teacher is Charles Simon and he is a fantastic musician, teacher and friend. Thank you Charles!

Do you know a student who deserves to be recognized? Nominate them for our Stages Student Spotlight!

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