"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

These hills are alive with the sound of a well-played guitar

By on June 28, 2017 in Arts with 0 Comments

By Susan Lagsdin

Some people can point to a map of the U.S. or the world and say, “I live here. I grew up there. My parents live there. My grandparents live there. My cousins…”

But Gavin McLaughlin just sweeps his arm toward a few rooftops, some green lawn and a 15-acre cherry orchard on Sunnyslope and he’s got it covered: he and his wife are raising fourth-generation kids in a little house on his family’s acreage.

He’s a hometown guy, succumbing after college and a few adventures south of the border to the lure of creating a satisfying life on the home place.

Playing music seems to be in his blood, and even if DNA doesn’t work that way, then being raised in a music-loving household certainly makes a difference.

His dad and both granddads were musicians and, “I started fooling around with the guitar around 12,” Gavin remembers.

“The first song I played was John Denver’s Country Roads, and it just went on from there… I played Dave Matthews, Jack Johnson, Eric Clapton, Tom Waits… I never took a lesson. But I practiced all the time — I’d play ’til I fell asleep at night.”

Classes at Wenatchee High School helped him with music theory and trained his voice (he was in WHS’s ’04 Carnegie Hall choir) and he even sang in a few musicals, something he hopes to try again soon.

But there was always the guitar. He just kept playing, experimenting and improving, gathering a few listeners on his own, eschewing ensembles. He loves performing solo, and his voice and the luscious chords on his Japanese-made Takamine guitar can fill a room.

Gavin suffered through one down spell when he totally turned away from music.

He described his early 20s as a time of spiritual and familial upheaval that eventually became both freeing and life-affirming.

He said, “In my subsequent lost wanderings, I found myself,” and when he picked up the guitar again it became, quite literally, an instrument of healing.

If life were indeed a bowl of cherries (there’s evidence it’s not quite), Gavin would be a full-time professional musician, traveling as far and often as he liked, singing and playing his guitar.

But, though he’s often booked to play for a respectful fee at venues like Leavenworth’s Sausage Garden, Pybus Market, Campbells, a few weddings and a few parties — and the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce has invited him to play an hour at the Walla Walla Park fourth of July fireworks preshow — he chose the most people-pleasing profession he knew for financial security: selling real estate.

He’s a broker with the Laura Mounter agency, and he loves it. A strong desire to help people, coupled with his knowledge of the region, have led to success, and a flexible schedule means he can easily fit his music gigs into any given week.

Fluent in Spanish, Gavin is also close to certification as a court interpreter, which will give him a second career that offers independence.

Young, savvy and ambitious, Gavin’s using tools that his grandads couldn’t have dreamed of: he auditioned for TV’s The Voice in 2012 — see the video on YouTube.

He played an original song last year at the PAC for LEAP (Local Enterprising Artists Project) — hear the album on iTunes. He’s currently attracting followers on Instagram and Facebook with #thesingingbroker.

“I know between 500 and 1,000 songs — music and lyrics. Yup, they’re all in my head,” said Gavin. “I’ve got a steel-trap memory, which is both a blessing and a curse.”

The good news for audiences is he can easily switch his (unwritten) set list aside and play whatever the occasion or the mood requires. “I guess acoustic rock would be my main theme, but I can play country, reggae, pop, just about anything.”

Music, work, family — it’s a clear three-lane highway with some interesting side trips here and there.

At 30, Gavin is fully aware that his life will grow and change, but for now doing the best he can playing the guitar, working his day jobs and loving his family keeps him moving straight ahead on a good road.

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