Guitar man

The meetings start with a featured speaker and then split up into rookies, minors and majors with a program for each. It meets at the Center for the Arts on Genesee Street in Syracuse, which is the domed building one can see from interstate 81 looking Eastward up Genesee Street.

The League also brings in accomplished guitarists for concerts and workshops. The first concert, in 2002, was by an Australian guitarist, Tommy Emmanuel, whom they discovered at a guitar players' conference in Nashville.

"He changed my life," Ward said.

As before this he dabbled in many things, after hearing Emmanuel, he made playing the guitar, in this particular style, his focus.

The League put Emmanuel up at the Packwood House in Skaneateles. He performed in Syracuse, Rochester and Ithaca, as well as sat in with Loren Barrigar at the Sherwood Inn.

Emmanuel wants to come back and do it again, basically for one reason - Doug's Fish Fry in Skaneateles. "Tommy said that when he pulled into Skaneateles, he would have told you that he thought he was, 'as happy as a man could be.' Then he discovered Doug's Fish Fry. He ate lunch there every day. He could not stop talking about it. He even insisted on driving back to Doug's for dinner from his Rochester gig."

On music

"It moves us, it is something hardwired into us, a baby responds to music," Ward said, "and we respond to bad music too."

Ward doesn't much play in bars anymore, "They treated it as background music and that is not what I am into anymore," he said.

Ward has a home studio. He plays out at the Creekside Books and Coffee in Skaneateles, Burritts in Weedsport, which is an old garage machine shop converted into a caf (c) and Mulberrys in Elbridge.

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