A kid can pick up a lot hanging around his big brother.
John Marcinizyn picked up a guitar. And he doesn't put it down very often.
"I always knew I'd be playing music. I never gave it much thought," Mr. Marcinizyn said. "I've been playing as long as I can remember. It's always been at the center of my life. I never imagined myself doing anything else.
"I mean, I still had a normal childhood. I don't feel like I missed out on anything. I still played sports and things with my friends. But I was always passionate about practicing and playing. It was never a chore. It was something I always wanted to do anyway."
He'll be doing it again tonight at Andys, the nightspot in the lobby of the Fairmont, Downtown.
Although Mr. Marcinizyn, 49, of Ben Avon, credits his older brother as his "first unofficial guitar teacher," he had his share of "official" teachers, including local virtuosos Jim Ferla and Joe Negri.
After graduating from Woodland Hills High School in 1982, he studied music at the University of Pittsburgh, where he earned a doctorate in composition and theory. Today, he teaches those studies at Carnegie Mellon and Seton Hill universities.
And, of course, he plays.
"I do a lot of performing, a lot of free-lance," he said. "Solo performing, and I have a a guitar duo with Jim Ferla, who also teaches at Carnegie Mellon. I also work in a gypsy jazz trio and a Dixieland band."
And how does he spend time with his wife. Well, she's singer Daphne Alderson, so he grabs his guitar and backs her up in local cabaret shows.
"So I'm actually a full-time musician. It all adds up," he said. "I do my teaching, and I do a lot of playing. Anything from concerts to things at Andys. I play different styles. Blues with Billy Price. I even play some flamenco with Quantum Theater. A little of everything.
"If anything, I feel like it gives me more exposure. I'm doing different things and mixing it up at different venues with different artists. It keeps it interesting and alive for me. Ultimately, I sort of see it as all and the same. Good music is good music."
When he performs by himself -- as he will be doing tonight -- he likes to mix it all up.
"When I'm doing my solo stuff, I incorporate all of that. Tonight, when I do my thing, I'll do everything from jazz standards to Latin tunes, some of my original stuff, some Beatles arrangements that I have. I find it all to be challenging, but in a good way. I feel like it's always fresh and I'm always learning."
Like most guitarists, Mr. Marcinizyn plays all types of guitars.
"But even though I play different guitars -- everything from classical to steel string to electric -- when I perform solo, I usually use my classical, which is very adaptable for doing a little of everything."
You can experience his stringed samplings at 7:30 at Andys, 510 Market St. There is no cover.
Check it out!
Get a preview of tonight's event!
John Marcinizyn's website: http://www.johnmarcinizyn.com/John_Marcinizyn/Home.html
If you have a suggestion for something to do some evening, let us know about it and we'll see if we can get some of our friends to join you. Contact Dan Majors at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1456.
This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/