When Byron West was young, he took piano lessons for about three years before giving it up.
“I wanted to be outside playing sports more,” he said, adding that he “thought I was going to be a professional athlete.”
West remembers his father’s words: “You know, you’re going to regret that.”
He did not become a professional athlete, and he did regret not sticking with music.
Over the years, West would look at musicians on stage and think, “Wouldn’t it be neat to be able to play something?”
“When I retired, I decided I wanted to do it,” West said. “This was to keep my mind active and to learn a new skill.”
At least, that was his original thought. But it developed into something more.
West retired from a career in sales in 2020, and someone suggested he pick up guitar instead of piano. He lives in Andover and began taking guitar lessons there at the Music Scene.
Before long, he owned three guitars, in part because his music teacher suggested an electric guitar would be easier to play because the strings are thinner.
“I’m sort of a rock music fan, so I could play some music in the way that it was recorded using an electric guitar,” West said.
He’s a big fan of rock “power chords,” as chords that make full use of a guitar amplifier are known.
“I love strong guitars, strong riffs.”
The Music Scene owner mentioned to West that a group of people played together in the store’s back room on Tuesdays.
“Most of them are retirees or at least middle age,” West said.
He pointed out the short time he’d been playing but was assured it would be fine.
West discovered that the group plays rock and country from the 1960s and ‘70s along with a few contemporary tunes.
“I just thought it was a practice session, and then all of a sudden, they said, ‘Well, you know, we have a gig coming up.’ And I said, ‘What?’”
The band, known as Meg and the Moondogs, played for the 10th anniversary of the Music Scene and then got some nursing home gigs.
“I’m finding out there’s a real market for that,” West said.
He’s not sure they’ll make it to any bars to play.
“We’re sort of in our infancy.”
West said that playing in a band forces him to keep time and play the right notes at the right time.
“It keeps you accountable,” he said. “The neat thing about being in a group is it makes you better.”