A working man by day, local guitarist Eric Clemenzi, 31, has the opportunity to become a star.
Two weeks ago, Clemenzi won one of two popular-vote spots among the top 10 finalists in Guitar Player Magazine's 2010 Guitar Superstar competition.
Beyond a simple popularity contest, the Guitar Superstar competition invites guitarists the world over to compete against one another with their own licks, trills, and solos for the grand prize of a recording contract with Guitar Player Records and a feature article in Guitar Player Magazine.
As a finalist, Clemenzi will fly, with most of his expenses paid, to compete at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore, Calif., in front of a panel of celebrity guitarist judges including Elliot Easton of The Cars, Reeves Gabrels of David Bowie, and Gary Hoey. He'll be the third performer of the 10 in the competition.
Clemenzi said that although he entered the contest on his own, it was his students, family and supporters who drove him to the top 10 finish.
"I probably wouldn't be here without them," he said. "I should thank all my students for that. It means a lot for me to have their support."
His competition piece, titled "Passage Through Time," shifts between scales and improvised notation. Clemenzi estimates that he has passively worked on the piece for at least two years. He also composed the backing bass and drums of the track.
Working out of his Riverside studio, Clemenzi has served as one of Haverhill's premier music instructors for many of the city's budding and professional musicians for the last six years. He shares his home and studio with his wife, Amanda, and 13-month-old son, Xavier.
Unlike larger studio or retail tutoring operations, Clemenzi said he's relied purely upon referrals. Currently, he tutors around 70 musicians a week. During the school year, he also teaches music at the Pingree School in South Hamilton.
"It's been word of mouth since I started," he said. "My students are the best form of advertising."
Though many musicians aspire to superstardom when they pick up the guitar, Clemenzi said his interest always was in teaching music, evidenced by his education at the Berklee College of Music with a concentration in teaching.
"There's a common misconception that if you don't make it as a musician that you teach," he said. "This has always been a part of me."
He added that even throughout his college career he'd frequently have to rush back to his hometown of Byfield in order to teach on weekends.
"I never stayed one weekend at Berklee," he said.
The process of creating music can be one of the most intimate undertaking, he said.
"You can be selfish with your music," he said. "It's about you as a person at the end of the day. It's about finding out who you are."
When he's not teaching, Clemenzi tries to squeeze in gigs with guitarist Steve Belleville under the band name Kangaralien.
Clemenzi said the idea of playing guitar came to him after watching a Monkees music video on the Nickelodeon television channel when he was a child. Since that moment of reckoning, he said his family has always given its love and support to his passion.
"My parents are my biggest fans," he said.
He'll soon experience the thrill of a noisy household through the interest his toddler son has found in drumming.
For Clemenzi, music remains a joy he experiences every day.
"I want to have fun," he said. "That's why I still play."
To hear a track off Kangaralien's debut album, "Inspired by Humans," visit hgazette.com.
Check Eric Clemenzi's website, ericclemenzi.com, for more information about his music.
If you'd like to hear Kangaralien live, visit the Tupelo Music Hall at 2 Young Road in Londonderry, N.H. this Thursday at 7 p.m. Admission is $5 and open to all ages.
To check out Clemenzi's Guitar Superstar page at guitarplayer.com/article/118613.