We had the good fortune of connecting with Stuart Epstein and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Stuart, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I grew up in Oceanside, New York on Long Island. When the Beatles hit the US all the friends in the neighborhood wanted to be in a band. My Dad got me a guitar and I have been playing my whole life. I pursued other careers but always played the guitar for my own personal entertainment and it connected me with other musicians. As I got older I wanted to share my music and play in front of small groups. A teacher of Special Needs students heard me one day and asked if I would come to her school and play for the kids. The rest they say is history. Over three years ago I formed a non-profit, Six Strings Acoustic and we play for over 100 students.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The Universe led me to an audience of people that I feel have been totally underserved. I quickly found out that I was the first exposure for many of these students to live music. Parents have told us that their child looks forward our concerts every week. When COVID came to town and the schools had to close we didn’t want the music to stop so we got on Zoom and started offering online concerts twice a week. This was such a success we decided to continue it throughout the summer. One of the challenges I face is keeping the concerts fresh and engaging so I try to come up with different songs to play. I also make up songs on the fly using the students names to get them involved. Many of my students have a favorite song and totally light up when I play it for them. I don’t know who has more fun, the students or me!

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I used to work professionally as a chef so it would totally be about the food. We would hit all the great Asian restaurants in the Valley. Too many to name.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many that deserve recognition. The teachers I work with are the true heroes. I know everyone says that but I see it firsthand every time I perform. The students are my inspiration and they fight everyday to deal with their individual challenges and to see their joy when they react to different songs makes playing for them a real honor. At Six Strings Acoustic we have an amazing Board with Mark McDowell and Ted Brown of the CattleTrack Art Community who were the key sponsors to last winter’s first fundraising event. Another long time Board member is Misty Wilson, a film editor by profession and in charge of all the media we release. She has kept us alive and always been there helping anyway she can. And finally my partner in crime, my wife, Janet. She has encouraged my pursuit of music from day one and was a equal force in bringing about the creation of our non-profit. Without her support and inspiration none if this would have happened.

Website: sixstringsacoustic.org
Instagram: sixstringsacoustic
Facebook: facebook.com/sixstringsacoustic.org

Image Credits

Nominate someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.