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Meet Donnie Laudicina

Today we’d like to introduce you to Donnie Laudicina.

Donnie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I grew up in San Diego, California and didn’t pick up the guitar until I was ten. I always regret not starting earlier because it changed my life. My dad asked my brother and I which instrument we would play if we had the choice. I picked guitar and he picked drums and when Christmas rolled around, our dad got us our first lessons. After that, it just kind of snowballed and the more I learned, the more I wanted to keep learning. I spent years taking guitar lessons and playing music with my own rock band and my high school’s jazz band. Along the way, I met many mentors who helped lead me down the path I’m currently on: David Hall, Wolf Marshall, Israel Maldonado, and Amy Wilcox.

I eventually found myself applying for college to study music and was extremely fortunate to have parents who supported me in this decision. UCLA became my home for the next four years. I studied jazz guitar under some of the greatest teachers ever including the legend Kenny Burrell. My career as a full time guitarist began here. I made friends in LA that connected me into the industry while honing my skills. I began playing for many different artists, bands, churches, and recording sessions and eventually found myself working enough to support myself with my guitar. Today, I find myself recording from my home studio a lot, performing for many local artists, and even touring around the world. I’m so extremely grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given and I always try to make the most of every time I play.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There are always going to be struggles pursuing this type of career, especially when first starting out. As an introvert, I’ve always struggled to feel comfortable at loud, late night jam sessions or in a room full of industry professionals. But I find that as long as I stay true to myself, I’ll be happier and people will ultimately respect me more than if I try to put on a fake persona. Financially, it can feel like playing life on hard mode. There are no guard rails and unless you’re lucky enough to be booked on a long tour, you might not know where your income is going to come from next month. I personally had to balance a full time 9-5 job in addition to my music for a while which left me exhausted and wondering if it was really worth it. Imagine waking up at 7am every morning and not getting back from your gig till like 1am. Trying to find a balance between gigs that pay well and gigs that are musically satisfying is something I think many musicians deal with too. In the beginning of my career, I remember doing a lot of work for free hoping that it would lead to something or would be a satisfying experience and many times it wasn’t. Having a mentor who is experienced with these kinds of things to talk to when struggles occur can be monumental. They can help guide you and motivate you to keep going. These struggles had me wanting to quit sometimes but I’m glad I stuck with it.

Please tell us about your work.
I am a freelance guitarist which means people hire me to play guitar on their records, live shows, music videos, tours, etc… I love playing all kinds of music but I would say I specialize in funk, soul, R&B, and pop. I think what sets me apart from many musicians is a level of professionalism. I always try to make sure I’m on time, prepared, and have all my gear ready and working. These kinds of things are often overlooked but are required to be successful in this industry. I try to do everything I can to make everyone else’s life a little bit easier. I recently got back from a Europe tour with country artist Willie Jones that I was really proud of. It’s always been my dream to travel the world playing guitar and I find myself doing that now which is really cool.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
The first one that comes to mind is Christmas 2001. My family and I went to spend to Christmas with my grandparents in Detroit, Michigan. I think it was snowing outside and our large Italian family was all in the kitchen. Our parents had just gotten my brother and I a Nintendo Gamecube and we were playing that thing nonstop!

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