A New Song for Sam

A month ago, John and I went to a fundraiser for The Mainstay, a jazz place in Rock Hall, Maryland. We expected dinner and drinks, with a little jazz in the background. We got much more.

The Mainstay is a tiny venue, at the end of a road that leads to the Chesapeake Bay, that amazingly hosts world-class jazz almost every week of the year. They recognize talent and have begun to cultivate it as well.  This year, they granted their first college scholarship to an Eastern Shore music student.  That student was Zach Lambert.

Zach was introduced to the audience as the scholarship winner.  A tall young man, with a head of wavy brown hair, walked on stage and sat down with his guitar. He began to play “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Chills went down my spine. John and I looked at each other and said “this is a sign.” Sam was a guitarist and the song was one of his favorites. His cousins sang it at his memorial service.  I shiver every time I hear it.

Sam had a collection of instruments; his favorite and most recent purchase was a beautiful Paul Reed Smith guitar. It was made of curly maple with a row of mother of pearl birds down the neck. Our family had been struggling about what to do with his collection, which languished in a closet, as John, Henry and I do not play.  We had considered selling them and contributing the proceeds to his memorial fund at CU, but that didn’t seem right.  At this moment, we knew what to do.

When Zach finished his performance, we approached the Mainstay’s Music Director and asked if he thought this young man might want Sam’s Paul Reed Smith guitar. We later shared the details and pictures of the guitar and the director put us in touch with the student. We sent Zach a message, telling him about Sam and my walk to raise money for his scholarship.  We offered the guitar as a gift from our family, with the hope that he would some day use it to raise awareness of the opioid crisis.  He responded with enthusiasm for both the gift and the cause. We knew we had made a good match.

Today, Zach and his father came to meet us and pick up the guitar.  They are from Kent Island, on the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, where, coincidentally, Paul Reed Smith Guitars are made.  Zach told us that he was thrilled to own a guitar that is made in his hometown, one that he could not hope to buy for himself.  He told us it would be, by far, the nicest guitar he owned.

We asked Zach too many questions and learned a lot about him in the process. He begins college at Towson University, where he will major in music, with a focus on jazz guitar, next week.  In addition to funding from the Mainstay, he has also received the Queen Anne’s County Arts Scholarship and a scholarship from the University. Recently, he received the Marine Corps Award for Musicianship.  He is a songwriter, who plays in several bands. His main band, a trio, focuses on original music he has composed. Many people have recognized this young man’s talent. I know that many more will do so in the future.

We offered up the guitar and Zach removed it from the case, with a gentle smile. He began to silently strum the strings. It made no music, as we had no amplifier for this electric guitar, but we could see that with his touch, the instrument would make beautiful music very soon. Obviously, we plan attend a performance where he plays the guitar as soon as we can.

We are so happy that we are able to pass along Sam’s legacy. We are grateful to the Mainstay for introducing us to Zach. We are grateful to Henry, the true “owner” of Sam’s belongings, for his support of this match. And we are pleased that Zach will be able to help us spread the message of hope for families struggling with addiction.  With Sam’s instrument in his hands on a college campus, he is in a powerful position to influence the lives of other young people.

Zach, go forth and make beautiful music. Sam is listening.

18 thoughts on “A New Song for Sam

  1. Wow, what a great story and such a happy ending for both the guitar and Zach. Very touching!

  2. Sometimes things are more precious than gold at the end of a rainbow. Zach will be a great advocate for the cause.

  3. This is an incredibly inspirational story, and I am reading it with tears in my eyes. You continue to open doors to peoples hearts and to honor Sam in such beautiful ways. We wish the very best for Zach and hope you will keep us informed regarding his walk in life.
    Hugs, Carolie and Pokey

  4. I love this, thanks so much for sharing Trish <3

  5. I agree that it had to be a sign. What a wonderful tribute. The terrific picture shows the joy in all three of you. Thank you so much for including us in your circle. Love to you both, John Carr

  6. Ahhh yes the perfect person to “continue” Sam’s music. So happy this all came together as it was truly meant to be!

  7. Having been a musician myself and knowing how an instrument is an extension of the player’s person and personality, I appreciate the value of this precious gift. Through Zach’s music Sam lives on.

  8. This is fantastic Trish and John and Sam would be so pleased.
    Let us know if Zach will be playing anywhere nearby we would LOVE to come see him play💗

  9. Thanks everyone. Once Zach gets established in Towson and sets his performance schedule, we’ll let you know how we can get together and see him play.

  10. Yes, Let The Beat Go On !!

  11. A very special gift to Zach resulted from your beautiful, kind, and thoughtful gesture – yes, I’m sure it was meant to be.

  12. Trish

    Kudos to you, John and Henry. I’m so glad this guitar ended up where it needed to be. Another sign and more tears for Mag


  13. Barbara Robinson August 21, 2018 at 10:42 am

    Wonderful gift to you both. I would love to hear Zack play sometime.

  14. Trish, your beautiful story brought tears to my eyes. What a lovely homage to Sam. It is wonderful to know that his musical gift will continue to live and play through the talented hands of Zach. Much love to you and your family! XOXO

  15. Martha R

    Wonderful story. My favorite version is by Eva Cassidy on her Songbird Album. I want to hear Zach’s version so keep me in the loop when a good time comes up to see him perform.

  16. I wanted to let you know, Zach teaches my young son guitar and is the highlight of his week. You could not have picked a kinder hearted young man to pass your son’s guitar on to. He will use it with love. On another note and as a mom, I want to tell you that my heart breaks for you. I can only imagine your loss. I love what you are doing in his name and to make a difference in the world. You will be in my prayers from now on.

  17. What a beautiful legacy to pass on, and I don’t think you could have found a nicer soul to carry it on. Zachariah will do great things in life, both as a person and musician, and now more so with such an inspiring gift you’ve given him. I’ve read the story of your son, and its such a devastating problem that can befall anyone and I am so sorry for your loss.

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