Winter Olympians Lowell Bailey and Ben Agosto Talk Guitar

February 16, 2010

When they’re not chasing Olympic gold, biathelete Lowell Bailey and ice dancer Ben Agosto are avid guitarists. Here are some outtakes from their interview in the March, 2010 issue of GP...

Ben Agosto

 

BenAgostoWhen did you start playing guitar?

I started when I was about ten or 11. My dad plays classical and flamenco guitar, so I have always been around it.

Was it tough to find the time to practice guitar and train in your sport? How do you balance that?

When my competition season gets going strong, it is hard to find time to do anything. The great thing about guitar, though, is that it is a way for me to relax and let my mind focus on something completely different from my sport. It helps to keep me from going insane.

What's your main instrument? What style do you play?

I switch between two main guitars. One is a Gibson Les Paul standard with the 60s style neck. The other is an American Strat. I love blues and classic rock, and I teeter totter between Led Zeppelin and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Will you bring a guitar to the Olympics? Any chance to play while you're there?

I have a travel guitar that I take with me to nearly every event I go to. I plug it into a headphone amp, or just play through Garage Band, add a library of backing tracks, and I can instantly be transported to a stage far, far away. I will definitely be bringing my traveler to the Olympics and I will definitely play while I am there.

Learn more about Ben Agosto at www.nbcolympics.com.

Lowell Bailey

LowellBaileyWhen did you start playing guitar?

I started playing guitar when I was around nine or 10. 

Was it tough to find the time to practice guitar and train in your sport? How do you balance that?

Actually, biathlon and guitar playing go fairly well together. A typical “day at the office” for me starts with a morning workout, followed by lunch, a short nap, then afternoon training. After that, I have evenings to practice or play out. Sometimes, if I have enough energy, I’ll find some time to play in the middle of the day.

What’s your main instrument? What style do you play?

I play a lot of guitar and mandolin. I guess I play a little bit of everything, mostly acoustic, although I do like to plug in my Strat every once and a while and try to blow out the windows in my house! The first band I was in was a trio that played a lot of classic ’60s and ’70s stuff on acoustic instruments; Little Feat, David Bromberg, Van Morrison, etc. It definitely wasn’t the Flatt & Scruggs sound you might expect from a guitar-Dobro-mandolin trio. Since then, I’ve just played anything that sounded good to me.

Will you bring a guitar to the Olympics? Any chance to play while you’re there?
Definitely. Seagull Parlor Guitar (with a custom split-spruce top taped together with Russian airline packing tape).

Keep up with Lowell Bailey at http://lowellbailey.com/

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