In August 2008, I was working at a studio in South Tampa when I met Salvatore. I was on a break, and he walked over from the barber shop 2 doors down to introduce himself as Sam the Singing Barber. Little did I know how much the course of my life would change by this encounter. We played a few minutes of guitar together until someone needed a haircut, and he said he’d be back later. After a few jams together he mentioned that he played every Tuesday morning at Havana Village, once a landmark cuban coffee and sandwich shop in Tampa.
I showed up the following Tuesday, had my first cafe con leche and gave up my guitar pick in search of more authentic and diverse sounds. We alternated between Latin/Italian traditional songs and very sad old country songs Sam called “tearjerkers”. Those songs seemed to transport him to another time and place.
Through the years our venues and days have changed, but our weekly performances continued and evolved into a familiar routine. I wanted to capture some of the music that we played together but never could get a great live recording (espresso machines sound better when played live but totally take over in a recording).
Throughout the Pandemic, we played through a screened in window or outdoors to the sounds of ambulances and traffic as I took note of exactly (more or less) what we played and how we played it.
I headed into my studio to play both guitars – Sam’s steel string guitar and the nylon string Spanish guitar that I slowly grew into. I tried to keep things as authentic as possible, even including some of our alternative note attempts (not to mistake these for mistakes).
The world of music is as vast and diverse as our world and I’m honored and lucky to have expanded mine on my journey with Salvatore, AKA Sam the Barber.