Growing up, Bryan Lubeck moved around a lot. After his mom was divorced he was eventually raised by his grandparents.
But despite a childhood of impermanence, he always had that guitar.
His mother had bought it for him when he was 6 because his father played guitar. No matter where he was as a kid, he had his guitar.
“I would keep it under my bed,” Lubeck said in an interview with The News last week. “I would get it out and hold it.”
Lubeck said he still has the original pick from that guitar, which he said is remarkable if you knew how prone he was to misplacing things.
“I can’t even find my keys right now,” Lubeck said.
Lubeck’s journey from a kid growing up in Goshen to a successful jazz guitarist can be linked to his childhood.
When he was about 10, his grandmother Marjorie Michel took him to take his first guitar lesson with Joan Haverstock who lived in Millersburg.
Lubeck lived with his grandmother and grandfather Phillip Michel starting in first grade.
Haverstock taught piano, bass, mandolin and drums.
All of her students belonged to a group she called Small Favors.
Lubeck said Haverstock’s husband was one of the top guitarists in the area.
“He was like a Chet Atkins,” Lubeck said. “He could play jazz, bluegrass.”
Lubeck was given a book of pop tunes from the 1970s to play. After mastering those and getting bored with them he stopped playing with a pick.
That next lesson Lubeck had, Joan took a book of Spanish classical guitar virtuoso Andres Segovia off the shelf.
“From there on out we were going to study classical guitar,” Lubeck said.
When he was 12 the Small Favors group started touring doing local festivals and playing at churches.
Then when Lubeck got to Goshen High School he joined The Crimsonaires under the direction of Merrill Swartley, who Lubeck called “the Godfather of the glee club.”
“He had real vision,” Lubeck said of Swartley. “Then Marcia Yost took over and she was freaking phenomenal.”
His love for the guitar then led into a love of singing and dancing. After graduating from GHS in 1985 he went on to Ball State where he received a scholarship to play classical guitar. In the summers he’d perform at Six Flags amusement park in St. Louis where he’d sing and dance. Out of 400 people who auditioned for the Six Flags gig, Lubeck was one of 10 to be picked.
“It was not just playing an instrument but putting on a show,” Lubeck said.
All of those experiences allowed Lubeck to sell tens of thousands of albums over the years. His 2013 release “Tuscan Sky” spent months on Billboard’s Top 40 Smooth Jazz chart.
“Looking back on it now, if I had missed any of those pieces, I wouldn’t be where I am now,” Lubeck said of his journey that started with music lessons in Millersburg.
But Lubeck took a detour after college. He decided he wanted to do something in entertainment management.
“I took whatever I had in the bank and my RX7 and drove to Orlando,” Lubeck said.
He eventually ran entertainment for a large country club in the Orlando area.
He eventually moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan working for a company that managed show choirs doing shows on Disney properties.
He was doing some writing and recording in his spare time. Eventually he met and collaborated with Dave Carlock to record something just for Lubeck’s own sake.
Carlock would eventually go on to earn a Grammy for his work on pop star Pink’s song “Trouble.”
Lubeck was doing the occasional gig in between his management job.
“Then I got a call from a producer for a smooth jazz show in St. Joe, Michigan,” Lubeck said. “They needed an opening act.”
He would go on to open that show for Craig Chaquico, who was formerly of both Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship.
“I felt like that was the moment,” Lubeck said. “Am I going to go all in on this music stuff or just do it for my own enjoyment?”
He chose the latter.
He now lives in Valparaiso full time. It provides him easy access to Chicago.
On Friday he’ll be performing at The Homestead 1835, 33771 Chicago Trail, in New Carlisle.
Tickets are $20 and that includes desert by Lasalle Grill catering, which will also be selling food at the show.
While he hopes classmates in the area can check out the show, he’s also arranged a private bonfire after the show for GHS grads from 1982 to 1987.
“I just want to catch up with people,” Lubeck said. “I’ve been traveling and haven’t done alumni stuff. I’m interested in seeing people and catching up.”
Though he no longer lives in Goshen, Lubeck still has fond memories.
From attending Parkside Elementary to spending one summer in his teens painting street lines for the Goshen Street Department, Lubeck said he appreciated growing up in Goshen.
“I just love that place.”