Music keeps the old flame going

Self-taught guitarist Justin Michael Taylor part of the growing music scene in Fort Nelson

Justin Michael Taylor had always been musically inclined.

The heavy duty mechanic from Fort Nelson was given his first guitar at at the tender age of three—a Christmas gift from his Uncle Ken.

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“He handmade me a guitar and it was just like Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstrat with the red, white and black striping. I still have that guitar to this day,” Taylor says.

After moving to Fort Nelson as a teenager, Taylor spent a fair amount of time in the office of his high school principal, Bill Dolan.

“Back in high school, maybe in Grade 11, I was quite the brat,” he says. “You always had to take me to his office, wondering why I’m not showing up or getting a D in the class.

“Years later, he finds out about my guitar playing, I find out about his passion for music, we ended up jamming together and now I’m one of his best friends.”

Dolan has nothing but praise for Taylor these days.

“This guy is amazing. He can play any type of music on his guitar,” says Dolan, who invited Taylor to help him with his track on the Alaska Highway Songs CD. “I showed him two verses and the chorus and he just nailed it. I can’t say enough good things about him.”

Dolan even invited Taylor to join the Alaska Highway Roadshow when it stopped in Fort St. John, saying he wanted to make sure that show was great, and needed Taylor to make that happen.

The pair play music together as much as possible, as part of the growing music scene in Fort Nelson, which comprises of country, heavy metal, and even hip hop.

“There’s quite the fantastic music scene for such a small community, especially now with the economy with the forestry and oil and gas stuff, it still is a very good root in music,” says Taylor

Taylor is mostly self-taught and has the ability to pick up on a song after hearing just a few bars. 

“It was mostly just dedicating my spare time to learning the guitar; I just clicked with the instrument, and most other instruments as well,” he says. 

He grew up listening to the distorted guitar solos of classic rock, and he can play thrashing metal music with the best of them, but his favourite style of music to play is country pickin’ and other finger music.

“The finger style is like a one man band, you play the bass, the melody and even the percussion on the acoustic at the same time,” he says, adding that he’ll pick up the acoustic and do some pickin’ before bed on most nights.

Working as a heavy duty mechanic gives Taylor plenty of fodder to write songs about, and he’ll often take a humorous quip and turn into a song.

“If I hear someone say something funny, I’ll take out my phone and write it down just to base the subject on that,” he says. “Recently I started writing a song called I’m Broke As My Saddlehorse, about when I got a paycut last year.”

Taylor has no plans on leaving Fort Nelson, even with the economy being what it is, because the music scene is what he truly loves.

“That is what keeps the old flame going on Ol’ Fort Nelson.”

ahendry@ahnfsj.ca

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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