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Randy Tennant The Knack for Persistence

In the world as we know it, I see people rushing to the goal of validation all day long. Adults, by and large, have mastered the idea of immediate gratification, and I must admit, that oftentimes, I am one of them. Early bird gets the worm and all that… Balancing that which is efficient with that which brings most meaning and joy is a popular trick shared by adults all across the globe. And when you apply all this to a musician it becomes even more so.

Then there is Randy Tennant. He’s the opposite of all this. He doesn’t need validation. His life is in order in a way where he’s solid, set and groovin.’ And when I mean groovin’, I mean it two ways: 1) I consider him to be extremely successful in life as he has exactly the things and people he wants and needs. He’s a shirt off his back kind of guy. Straight-shooter. And all this works for him and his family. 2) He’s the bass player in Sydney Irving’s Mojo – in my opinion, the Syracuse band that has the biggest bullet at this point and time. He also has a thriving business with his guitar shop R/T Customs, which is fast becoming recognized as a quality shop that cares deeply about your ax.

While enjoying an ambitious summer schedule which included some big stage shows, he still keeps it together in practical ways. He still plays music as part of the worship team at Lyncourt Wesleyan Church every Sunday. He’s a great example of what a husband and a Dad should be. If he gives you his word, you know he’s gotcha. And as his modesty remains as one of Randy Tennant’s more admirable hallmarks – that modesty turns a bit fierce when he swings his ax.

Chuck Schiele: How’d you get into music?

Randy Tennant: One day, about fourth grade, I remember Mr. DeAngelis, the band teacher at Lyncourt School, putting his hand on my shoulder and saying to me, “Why don’t you join the band?” So I did! I ended up playing the saxophone all through junior high, high school and into college. When I was a little bit older, I remember seeing a guy playing a maple-glo Rickenbacker bass. I didn’t even know it was a bass at the time, I just thought it was really cool. That night I told my parents I wanted a guitar. Soon after they took me to the Bebop Shop in Liverpool and I got my first guitar, a Univox. And yes, I still have it!

CS: You also played semi-pro football – which means you LOVE football. What do you like better, football or rock and roll? And yeah, I understand that this is a totally unfair question. Uh, one, two, three, hike!

RT: I would have to say rock n roll. Music seems to fit into so many more areas of
life than sports does. It’s more universal. And besides, I’m a lot less sore after a gig, as opposed to playing a football game! Even if I was good enough to make it to the pros, it would only have been for a few short years. I plan on doing music the rest of my life. I do miss playing ball, though.

CS: You’ve played in bands before and you’re part of your church worship team. You play guitar and bass. Tell us how that all relates in your development as a musician and your mission as a man.

RT: As I look back on how I’ve grown as a person and as a musician, it’s cool to see how the two are related. I still get nervous on stage or being in front of people, but music has helped me conquer that. I’m an introvert, but music has helped me to meet so many people I never would have met without it.

CS: And just like that: You’re in one of the city’s hottest bands… and with a bullet. How’s that going?

RT: It’s going great! My son Evan, Luke Hart and I are the Mojo that backs up Sydney Irving. We have played a ton of shows in the last year and a half and we’ve made 4 music videos. (Insert shameless plug for sydneyirvingmusic.com) We cover many styles of music and Sydney writes some incredible originals. Only one of us is over 18 but it just works, and we are having a blast! I joke that I am a chaperone for an all star band, but it’s true. All three of them are incredible performers, and fun to play with.

CS: You also have your own custom guitar shop.RT: Yes, I am R/T Customs. I do maintenance, repair, and upgrades for guitar and bass, and I do custom builds.

CS: What are some of the highlights of your days as a musician?

RT: Sharing the stage with my son. Playing Chevy Park stage at the NYS Fair. Opening for Martina McBride at SpiedieFest in Binghamton and having her compliment us. Having three of my custom builds being played on stage at the same time. Having other musicians respect and compliment what I’m doing, both on stage and in my shop. Being able to see a crowd enjoy the music as much as I enjoy playing it.

CS: What’s your take on the Central New York Music Scene?

RT: There is a ton of talent out there. I feel privileged to play with some of them and work on their instruments as well.

CS: What’s coming soon for you and your music – and how do we find you?

RT: The band and I look forward to writing and recording our next album. We will probably do some more videos too. Lots of shows booked for the end of the year and into next year. You can find me on social media @syrguitar and you can reach me at syracusecustomguitars@gmail.com or stop into my studio.

Chuck Schiele
Chuck Schiele is a lifelong, award-winning musician, art director, producer, editorialist, artist, activist, member Quatrocollective.com and fan of the CNY music scene. To be considered for this column, please write chuck.schiele@gmail.com.