It’s funny how a bumper sticker can make you a new friend. I was distributing zines to various locations around town and noticed a Soldano bumper sticker on the back of a very nicely painted work truck outside of a store front with the same name. Soldano, being one of my favorite guitar amplifier creators in Seattle. Obviously this person REALLY loves Soldano amps to deface his work truck with a sticker placed squarely in the center of his rear bumper, so I decided to engage my curiosity and find out who this person was. I went inside and was faced with this rather large man sitting behind a computer. Being my nosy, plucky self I asked him, “I noticed your business’ work truck has a Soldano sticker on it, someone here into awesome amps?” This “man’s man” of a man assessed me (I looked pretty shabby at the time. Holey clothes and messy unwashed hair, so it was safe to say I wasn’t soliciting him or his establishment for anything. I’m a friendly!) and uttered, “Yeah my name’s Eric, I’m friends with Mike Soldano (the magician behind Soldano amplifiers)”.
Back Story: About 10 years ago I took a tour through the Soldano factory (then in Ballard) and was dazzled by the craftsmanship that went into making these amps. I also at that time owned a Soldano Super Lead 60 which Mike explained to me there were only 150 made! Interesting news to me and exciting news for him to know that one of those rare amps was kicking around Seattle still. We spent a couple hours talking about music and everything that comes along with it. I left the factory glowing for Mike treated me like a serious musician. He cares about his craft and he cared about me.
After I told Eric this story and how I happened to know Mike Soldano’s favorite color was purple (I’m not obsessed, I’m just educated), Eric totally opened up to me, never minding his computer and just focusing on spinning tales of our mutual love for this man and his trade. Turns out Eric has been friends with Mike for years, knows his family and everything! He then leaned over to the phone, dialed a number from memory and put it on speakerphone. I was like, “Are you calling him right now?” “Yeah! I was gonna call him tomorrow anyways!”, Eric said. My brain squealed and luckily Mike never picked up, my nervous anxiety couldn’t take chatting with this star of a man. But the fact that Eric only knowing me for 5 minutes trusted me enough to give me a second opportunity to talk with someone I so deeply respected was humanly moving. Before I took my leave, Eric told me a quick story about how Soldano was commissioned by Eric Clapton to create an amplifier/cabinet set for a Cream reunion years back! After the show, Mike asked Clapton if he could sign a guitar. To this Clapton replied, “Only if you sign my amplifier.” So they both did it! How exciting is that?!
I left that business in Queen Anne making a new friend, sharing interesting stories and respectfully bonding with a complete stranger over a magical amplifier maker. In the end, it was music that brought us together. Music is a community I’m glad to be a part of. Music changed the course of my day that evening and it has consistently changed my life in ways I could never repay it back. Well, that and bumper stickers.