September 19, 2018
How to make a musician swoon:
“You sound amazing!”
“Keep playing; don’t stop!”
Those were just a handful of the comments Marshall got during our shoot as he played his soprano saxophone. It seemed like every time I adjusted my lightstand; a passerby would stop and compliment Marshall on his skills.
“Dude, I think I’m gonna come out here on weekends and play just for the self-esteem boost,” he said at one point through a massive grin. I don’t blame him. Hell, I’d tag along to be a member of the audience. It’s not every day I get a personal concert while shooting a portrait session. The tunes ranged from jazz to classical, with an occasional pop tune thrown in. Each number is full of bounce and energy; perfectly reflecting the man behind them.
Marshall is one of those creatives that has a plan and rivals my OCD organizational skills. An avid musician, he can play seven different instruments: soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, piccolo, flute, clarinet, and bassoon. He’s been playing since his marching band days in high school and continues to lend his skills to the occasional musical theater production. Oh yeah, he’s also a crazy vocalist. I’ve been given a few, “Drop your jaw and breathe” reprimands during the three musical productions we’ve done together. He’s right though – which is part of what makes him so talented as a musician.
Marshall will be the first to admit that his imagination and curiosity are uncontrollable. If he finds an interest in something, he’ll scour the internet, books, podcasts, and other mediums for every morsel of information available. He’s a young guy, not even 30 years old, but you’ll quickly realize he’s brilliant and knows his stuff.
It’s a challenge sometimes, matching his experience with his age. During a production of Guys and Dolls, where he exercised his directing chops, a large portion of the cast had trouble trusting him because they thought he was just a high energy guy. A few weeks into rehearsals and seasoned actors were acknowledging his experience and wisdom.
“Why don’t people listen to me? I swear I know this shiz!” Yes, that’s an actual quote. He’s hilariously sassy. But his mind also works at insane speeds; it’s why people give him double-takes. He’s usually explaining the solution before he’s even told you there’s a problem. It’s something he works on regularly, though he’ll slip up occasionally and wonder why people don’t follow his process.
“You’re moving too fast! People can’t keep up.”
“No, they just need to pay attention. It’s all right there!” Being present and accountable are two of his biggest pet peeves.
One thing I appreciate about Marshall is his openness. He doesn’t pull punches, and he’s quick to point out where he thinks you can improve. He’s not arrogant; it comes from a genuine place. He’ll tell you he’s cold and emotionally unavailable at times, but it only takes a few minutes to realize how sincere Marshall is with everything he does. You can always tell when he’s involved in something; his energy and passion are infectious to those around him.
“Yeah, I’m just eating shit this year,” Marshall responds when asked what he’s up to at the moment. It’s a line from entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, referring to Marshall’s two jobs and minimal social life. He’s pulling overtime to start his own local theater group. The ultimate goal is to open an art school – and I wouldn’t put it past him. His drive is unbelievable, and he’s such a blast that networking is a breeze. If anyone can do great things, it’s Marshall.
If you’re around the Alpharetta area, keep an ear out for an energetic saxophone playing in the background or local theater production. You may get a chance to witness this multi-passionate musician and director.