A Greece student won the musical opportunity of a lifetime thanks to Utica native Joe Bonamassa and his foundation, Keeping the Blues Alive.
Liam Worden, a 17-year-old aspiring musician and senior at Arcadia High School, was selected by Bonamassa and Keeping the Blues Alive to receive a virtual lesson from a guitarist participating in the Woodshed Guitar Experience, a camp hosted by Bonamassa, Brent Mason, Andy Wood, Andy Timmons, Mark Lettieri and Greg Koch.
The offer came as a surprise when a representative from Keeping the Blues Alive reached out to Bruce Schaubroeck at House of Guitars in Irondequoit for a recommendation.
“We were totally blown away,” he said. “An opportunity like this for a young person to have a one-on-one lesson with a world class professional guitarist, whether it’s Joe Bonamassa or one of the other musicians, is a game-changer. The participating guitarists are huge names in the music industry and this experience can take Liam’s game to the next level.
“It’s really meaningful to see Joe and the other musicians giving back to our community, especially during COVID. Joe’s at the top of his game, but has never forgotten Rochester or his roots in upstate New York. He visits our store every time he’s performing in the area and it’s always exciting for our staff. The past few months have been an incredibly challenging time for performing artists, and Joe has found a creative way to reach out and bring music to the people. It’s an honor to be a part of an experience that will change the life of a young music student forever.”
Bonamassa’s history with Rochester includes a fundraising partnership among his foundation, House of Guitars and Distillery Restaurants. Round Up for Music raised over $23,000 in 2018 and 2019 for music programs in area schools, including Greece Central School District, Rochester City School District, Rush-Henrietta Schools and Aquinas Institute. KTBA donated several thousand dollars plus a guitar autographed by Bonamassa, and the Gibson Foundation donated guitars and amps for the participating schools.
“We are honored that Liam was selected for this unbelievable opportunity, and to continue our relationship with Joe Bonamassa and Keeping the Blues Alive,” said Aaron Staebell, music director on special assignment at Greece CSD. “This creative way of delivering music instruction during a pandemic shows that music is an integral part of life for everyone. Learning from professionals is both authentic and memorable, and Liam will embark on a surely life-changing experience. It is heartwarming to see Joe and others delivering good news and giving back to the next generation.”