(EDITOR'S NOTE: Sean Farley hosts "Guitarley's Open Mic Night" Tuesdays at Kimball's Pub, 972 Second St., will host "SPAM Night" at Franco's Lounge, 12 W. Fourth St., tonight and has a couple of upcoming band gigs: A show with Tyler Spooner in Wellsboro Feb. 11 and a Black 'N Blues Mardi Gras gig at Rumrunners Pub and Eatery, 341 Market St., Feb. 18).
"When I was 6 or 7 years old, my uncle gave me my first guitar," Farley said. "I think I was in the hospital for mono or something. He was coming over to visit me a lot. He brought over a guitar and a little keyboard. That's when I first got into it."
A few years later, that same uncle recorded Farley's first recordings.
Sean Farley hosts “Guitarley’s Open Mic Night” at Kimball’s, 972 Second St., at 10 p.m. each Tuesday. Farley also hosts SPAM (Support Poetry Art and Music” at Franco’s Lounge, 12 W. Fourth St., once a month. The next SPAM?will be held at 10 p.m. tonight.
"Behind his house was a garage with a recording studio," Farley said. "He did audio engineering and sound for local bands like Hybrid Ice. He gave me a key to the place. When I was 11, he recorded me playing Freddie King's "Tore Down" - bass, rhythm and lead guitars, vocals and drums. My dad has it on a cassette somewhere."
Farley's guitar prowess had commenced but hadn't yet reached fruition.
"Probably not until middle school when I was in a guitar and music history elective class," Farley said. "I was sort of chewing through the songs quickly - power chord stuff on an acoustic classical guitar. I was learning quickly and my teacher, Mr. Gordon, was like, 'Why don't you take this guitar home and practice on it a little?' So, I did."
Soon after, his mom received the "Eric Clapton Unplugged" CD in the mail.
"She got it as one of those, 'buy a CD for a buck and get 10 free' [offers], then they end up charging your credit card weird things," Farley said. "I picked up my guitar and just started mimicking that album - this was when I seriously started playing. I just kept on from there learning on my own before going to Dave Brumbaugh for lessons."
Growing restless as a teen growing up in Williamsport and seeking new forms of six string expression, Farley plugged in and found some like-minded individuals.
"The first electric guitar I bought myself was a Strat-style Epiphone electric," Farley said. "I still have it. It's signed by B.B. King and Buddy Guy. They played the Community Arts Center when I was 15. It was around the time I was in my first band. We had a little power trio. It was a lot of fun being in a band at that age. It felt great. We were doing some Led Zeppelin covers - I remember we played 'D'yer M'aker' a lot - it was a mix of blues and classic rock."
In bands all his life, this year, Farley has embraced the idea of standing alone in front of the mic - just him and a guitar.
Farley does "Guitarley's Open Mic Night" at Kimball's each Tuesday and once a month at Franco's.
"There are always some people who want to go out and play," Farley said. "It's nice because there are a lot of beginners performing so I get to take a teaching or advisory role."
Farley opened "Guitarley's" in April and started rolling right back with his bands.
"I have Lynn and Farley 5 going again and Black 'N Blues are still active," Farley said. "Speaking of Black 'N Blues, we're talking about recording some new material.
"It's really nice to have such chemistry with these different people in separate projects," Farley said. "I've had a few experiences working with awesome musicians but we just couldn't click. There has to be some deep connection. That's when the best music happens. They're all really good friends we don't have band fights and break up. We don't do any of that."
One of those friends, Shaun Gilmour built Farley a website for Guitarley's.
Recently, Farley began writing a blog on his site about being a Luthier and musician.
"One of my first entries was writing about why someone should go see a certified Luthier," Farley said. "I followed that up with a post about the ups and downs of owning a small one person business. My site is up to 2600 views and 1400 of those have occurred since I started the blog." For more information about Sean Farley, his various bands and his business Guitarley's, visit www.guitarleys.com or Facebook.
He spent much of 2010 in Phoenix, Ariz., attending Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery. Learning how to make guitars taught Farley a lot about the instrument he plays.
"I just understand so much more the theory of the instrument now," Farley said. "Becoming a Luthier has helped me to know more about the guitar. I have a much stronger connection with the guitars that I've made. Two of my favorites that I bought are for sale on the wall right now. I'm selling them because now the only ones I play are those I made."
"I moved out Arizona for about 8 to 9 months," said Farley. "I didn't play at all while I was out there. Luthier school was 50 hours-a-week plus about 30 hours of homework. That was just for two guitars. I made a third one. So I was very busy. I didn't go out to Arizona to learn how to play guitar. I went out there to learn how to make them. I really kept to myself about my guitar playing."
Ironically, though, he didn't play out there a lot of the songs he's recently written are about the experiences he had in Arizona, including one about an area known for its unusual experiences.
"A new song I wrote, 'Sedona' [is] about me having these like really euphoric experiences in one of Sedona's vortexes," Farley said. "They say that some people feel it and others don't. First day, people are saying, 'Are you seeing funny stuff?' and I'm like, 'Don't try to placebo me.' Second day, though, man, it just knocked me down. One of the lines in the song is 'Vortex knocked me to the ground' and a force I can't explain was just like, 'Lay down' and everything was pulsating. The scientific explanation is that there is lots of quartz. People are affected by quartz - it's an energy center - but it felt much more like a spiritual thing to me that day.
"It was liberating being out there in Arizona," Farley said. "You're just out there by yourself experiencing those kinds of things, meeting new people. I was introduced to a lot of new music out there. For example, now I'm big Junior Brown fan and I was anti-country before - Buena Vista Social Club too. I mean, you can't drive around the desert and listen to funk. It was cool to be in that environment. If you live in the desert, you're going to have some twang to you. You're going to have some Spanish minor kind of diminished chords in your music. That's just how it feels when you're out in the desert."
returned from Arizona in mid-February of this year. He
He plans on going back to Arizona this spring for a mini-vacation and attend two classes at Roberto-Venn while he's there. "They are now offering these mini-courses," said Farley. "I was planning on hiking in Sedona, stop and see the new school, give a guest lecture, say hi and check in. Then I saw these three really great classes within two weeks of each other. One of them is for making custom guitar pick-ups. It's another step in increasing my product offerings so eventually a customer doesn't buy just a custom guitar from me. They buy a whole custom rig."
As Farley continues to evolve and expand his skills as a Luthier, he also remains tightly connected to his six string as a musician.
"The Doug McMinn All Star Blues project, that's booking stuff right now," said Farley. "Lynn Farley 5 is taking a break now that Shaun moved, but Dave Lynn and I starting to write some new material. Tyler Spooner and I are doing shows-planning on some big things for the future. I'm trying to get out the area with my solo stuff and really get re-focused to music to help pay for this venture. But now with new classes on the horizon, I'm really excited about the direction of the Luthier side of my career too."