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‘X' marks spot for Marysville musician
Norman Gonzales teaches as well as plays the guitar, and asks students to bring a spiral notebook — you can buy it at the dollar store, he notes — and a pencil.
Be prepared to take some notes, he advises.
His goal as a teacher is to get students to play with other musicians.
Gonzales also asks that students arrive about 15 minutes before instruction begins so they get the chance to become situated, relaxed and prepared.
Marysville guitarist and singer Norman Gonzales has been told often by fans they want to be in his shoes.
"I would do anything to trade spots with you," Gonzales remembers a Chico attorney telling him a decade ago.
That's a sentiment Gonzales often heard during his 40 years as a musician in San Francisco, Santa Cruz and other California cities.
Ironically, Gonzales, 55, who will audition for the "X Factor" television program, thought the six-figure income the attorney earned looked pretty good, especially since Gonzales sometimes relied upon Top Ramen soup for meals.
He talked Tuesday about the near-universal interest in musicians' lives, his move to Marysville from the Bay Area and the lifestyle that went with being a musician.
"It was a cross between 'Caligula' and 'Clockwork Orange,'" he said of Northern California in the 1980s.
A year ago, he came from Santa Cruz County, where the monthly rent on his studio apartment was $1,100, to Marysville.
He's happy to be here — even if he keeps getting asked why he would make such a move.
"I love Marysville," Gonzales said. "It's quiet and peaceful."
In the Bay Area, he had found himself "upside down — like a turtle on its back."
Here, Ellis Lake is down the block, the Brick Coffeehouse Cafe is close by — and his "X Factor" tryout a week away.
The musician, who has been playing since he was 8 years old ,will sing without his Fender Vintage sea foam green guitar. The network TV show just wants to hear the performer's voice.
He spoke about his six brain surgeries — an aneurysm left him with "an oak tree growing in my head" with its base in his neck, Gonzales said — his 23 years free of drugs and how making it big would be OK by him. He would like the wealth that goes with fame because he could help others.
His brother, Dale, 65, who lives in Santa Clara County, said music has long been in the blood of the Gonzales' family. Dale went into electronics, but understands the quest to look "for that golden thing in the sky to make it big" — that "rare opportunity to shine."
"I knew that star everyone is looking for wasn't for me," Dale added.
Alicia Montgomery, who has known Norman for 25 years, said the Marysville musician likes to play the blues and the music of Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Norman's range is remarkable, she added. "He can play anything."
Her sister, Marysville resident Kelly Montgomery, who has also known Norman for a quarter-century, said a lot hangs on next week's audition.
"I just hope he does well," she said. "I'm sure he will. He's very good at what he does."
Gonzales is ready to perform and recognizes his new roots in Yuba County.
"I want to represent my home town," he said. "I want to represent Marysville."
CONTACT Ryan McCarthy at email@example.com or 749-4780. Find him on Facebook at /McCarthy or on Twitter at @ADrmccarthy.