From the Best New Age Artists

“More Than One Would Expect”

cid 9EF54D9A-1212-44FB-A937-EE85BE9F7C6C kolwitz“More Than One Would Expect”
Stick With It-Adventures of a Chapman Stick Player – a book by by Michael Kollwitz
Review by Sean O’Bryan Smith

For most musical aficionados, the prospect of reading a story centered around a unique musical instrument might be found intriguing. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing how the tools we use to create our craft were created?  Some of my greatest moments in my own career have been sitting with the luthiers and engineers who crafted the very instruments and amplifiers I use to this very day. We all have our curiosities that drive us to discover the subtle ins and outs that help us want to do what we do. So, learning more on Emmett Chapman’s innovations in musical instrument creativity that inspired some of the most elite musicians in the world definitely called to me.

Over the years, I’ve known a collection of players who specialized in “the best musical instrument you’ve never heard of.” I’ve sat down with a Chapman Stick a handful of times over the years and that instrument is not for the weak at heart. It is an intimidating beast, but once tamed it is one of the most creative instruments I have ever witnessed. So, the chance of a book on The Stick being something that I’d actually sit down and immerse myself in was there. That being said, when I was presented with Michael Kollwitz’s journey into becoming an author entitled. “Stick With ItAdventures of a Chapman Stick Player,” I gleefully took the chance, and I am most certainly glad I did.

Stick-With-It-front-back-cover-scaledNow, first of all, I will make a confession. I did not read this per se as I took advantage of ye Olde Audible and listened to the aforementioned “Stick With It” in its audio form. Like most of us, time to shutoff and read isn’t always a realistic possibility but, the last time I checked, my ears are still working so, this was going to be a listening experience for me. Let me just say that is one of the first things about this book I enjoyed though. Almost immediately, it was apparent that this was not going to be just a tale about a musician who carries a “Big Stick.” On the contrary, what quickly caught my attention is how the stories just happen to intertwine with music in a genuinely nostalgic way and part of that is in part to Kollwitz’s own narration of his life stories.

There’s an inherent humanity in Kollwitz’s stories that is immensely charming and something that I find so lacking in the rest of the world these days. First off, this is NOT some overtly muso obsessed book for musicians. It very easily could’ve been chapter upon chapter of heavy technical speak that quickly alienates some potential readers. How easy it would’ve been to just dwell on specifications or how Tony Levin used it on such and such. These things are all great for us musical nerds, but what Kollwitz delivered was ACTUAL human-interest stories that could potentially reach a tremendously broader range of readers. What a bizarre concept that is.

The more I dove into his “Adventures,” the more charmed I was by Kollwitz’s stories. What struck me as the most endearing part of the book is the sense of Americana. Michael’s delivery on tales ranging from growing up, learning to play, to moving around the country, and then the corresponding adventures that just happened to coincide with being a musician, are presented in such a warming and genuine manner that even non-musicians would quickly find themselves immersed in this book. The audio version is particularly captivating by Kollwitz’s charm. You can tell that these stories are truly a part of him and with that authenticity, “Stick With ItAdventures of a Chapman Stick Player” is most certainly a worthy read for all.

IMG_7820 sean low resSean O’Bryan Smith is an award-winning film composer, author, producer and recording artist. As a musician, he has recorded and/or performed with over 100 major and independent recording artists worldwide in multiple genres.

Sean originally emerged onto the new age/world scene in 2012 while on the Australian record label Wolf Entertainment. His single “Rain” from the album “Tapestry” became an international jazz/new age crossover hit. The album also included the single “Vashon” which was featured on multiple new age stations overseas. These ventures into the genre continued when a number of Sean’s original compositions from the Indian motion picture Mrigtrishna were heavily featured on a collection of ambient/new age works in India. 

As an author, Sean’s regular columns have been published in numerous musical periodicals and he was a contributing author alongside Gene Simmons and Nile Rodgers for a series of books dedicated to the ins and outs of the music industry. Sean’s music continues to be heard across the globe on radio, film and television. He is currently composing, recording and producing from his home in South Florida as well as serving as Director of Artist Development and Relations for Wayfarer Records where he is also an Artist in Residence.







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