CONCORD - Scott Solsky is a professional musician and a music teacher, but he came late to performing.
"I started playing music when I was 14," he said. "I was instantly in love." He said his parents were indifferent, probably figuring it was a passing interest, and didn't offer music lessons.
But Solsky persevered. "I was self taught 'til I went to college," he said.
He was determined to make a career of his music and he has. "If you really put your heart in it," he said, it is possible to make a living with music. Even in New Hampshire, he said. Or, maybe, especially in New Hampshire, he said, although you have to really want it.
He acknowledges it requires some juggling. He teaches at Shaker Road School, offers private lessons, was the driving force behind launching the Granite State Music Festival and performs with several groups, including Romeo Bonapart.
Solsky said the group's last name was chosen to honor his French-Canadian grandfather, also a musician, who had anglicized his name to Goodchild.
Solsky said he learned, too late, that his grandfather's name had been Bonenfant, not Bonapart.
During the school year, he said, he plays two or three times a week, but in the summer, he's on stage or in the spotlight four or five times a week with one group or another.
He plays a number of instruments, but he usually performs as a jazz guitarist, although he's also into a mix of jazz and electronic music - "jazztronic" - performing in clubs throughout New England in a quartet called Brasbe.
His "baby" is the Granite State Music Festival, of which he is the executive director. Last year, the first year, Solsky said: "We really relied a lot on sponsors and the community." His goal, he said, "is ticket sales supporting it." As the festival continues and word spreads, he believes that will happen and there will be more money to support music education.
This year's festival will be in late June, the exact dates and venue aren't firmed up, but it will be in Concord, he said, because it's a central location, easy to reach from many directions.
Some people may be surprised to hear it, he said, "but New Hampshire is an amazing music community." In Concord alone, there are a half-dozen places that offer live music, including True Brew Barista, Hermanos and the Barley House.
Solsky sees the combination of teaching and performing as helping to build audience, as well as appreciation, for live music.
"The kids see me out in the community performing it," he said. For some, it's the first time they've seen professional live music.
He's determined that more people will be able to see and hear high-quality live music and want to be a part of the music scene in New Hampshire. He said there are musicians who think they need to go to New York, but although their skills are competitive, the jobs are scarce.
When they come back, they find more opportunity to actually perform here, he said, and he's looking to increase those opportunities by building a hunger for live music in New Hampshire.