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EDMOND With friends by his side, a guitar in his hands and the sound of bluegrass in the air, musician Marco Tello performed a multitude of songs from his career and newest album, “The Edge of the Middle of Nowhere,” Saturday night at the Bottle Cap Barn.

Tello’s album is a collection of bluegrass, rock, country and Americana music, but he said throughout his career he has been in several bands and performed many genres.

“I’ve played in Reggae bands. I’ve played in classic rock bands (and) punk rock bands. I’ve played in red dirt bands, bluegrass folk, Irish, disco and funk. It’s all music to me,” Tello said.

Tello said the making of his album was a long and difficult process but he was relieved and happy when it was completed.

“It started at the very beginning of 2017. The studio was in Midwest City. I had to go there after work and sometimes on weekends I got really cranky towards the end It was a lot of work,” Tello said.

The 54 year old began his musical journey when he demonstrated a natural talent and played the French Horn in band at Edmond Public Schools. Tello started taking guitar lessons in the late 70s.

“I was having trouble scoring with the ladies and I couldn’t afford a Trans Am and I thought guitar playing would be a great way to impress women,” Tello said.

Though it began as a way to meet girls, Tello said music became a passion after he met his best friend and played bluegrass.

“I didn’t really get serious until the late 80s when I moved to Boulder, Colo., which was an incredible music scene, and I met Kane Hollins,” Tello said.

According to Tello, the two worked at a local restaurant and one day decided to make music with their guitar and banjo.

“He came over to the house I was renting and I knew three or four bluegrass songs and we played them together, and that was the beginning of my music career,” Tello said.

After discovering his musical match, Tello said,
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the two traveled around the state performing hundreds of shows.

“We took our instruments and our backpacks and hitchhiked all over Colorado during the mid 80s. Then in ’86 we shouldered our packs, grabbed our instruments and hitchhiked Boulder, Colorado to Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Utah and back to Colorado,” Tello said.

This adventure lasted two months and though it was challenging, the musician said he’s grateful for the experience.

“Approaching a music career like that is like trial by fire so I learned a lot at that time,” Tello said.

For Tello, being in a band and performing in sympatico is a passion.

“The best feeling in the world is when you’re in a band, on stage and everything is firing on all cylinders,” Tello said. “Everybody knows exactly where they are, you know exactly what that person’s going to do.”

Tello added that it can be a challenge to keep a band together.

In addition to his solo performance, Tello is in a trio, The Brave Amigos, with musicians Jeff Nokes and Edgar Cruz. 19 at the UCO Jazz Lab.

“We commonly play gigs where we’re wearing the audience out because we just keep going and it’s time to quit and I’m thinking ‘God I’m having so much fun I don’t want to quit.’ It’s been awhile since I had that,” Tello said.

By day Tello works as a food broker but music is his first passion and he said he performs more than 100 shows a year.

“From nine and a half years on I was an Edmond boy. I was quite a lot of trouble and I did all the drugs . The people I ran with in school were all bad kids,” Tello said.

Into adulthood Tello struggled with alcohol and drug abuse but he said he has been sober since 1990 after he hit rock bottom.

“I got to a point where I didn’t want to drink or do any more drugs and I didn’t want to go through life without booze and drugs. I came to a spot where I didn’t know which way to go,” Tello said.

Despite all the pain he inflicted upon himself but endured, Tello said the worst time of his life was three years ago when a rare condition caused nerve damage in his hand.

“It’s my left hand. It’s an important hand for a guitar player. So for a good eight months I wasn’t a guitar player and I had no idea what I was if I wasn’t a guitar player,” Tello said.

Through determination and passion, Tello said he worked through his health problem and returned to the musical world.

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Tello said fellow musicians and music lovers have responded positively to his work. The guitarist is looking forward to the making of his next album and he hopes to become a full time musician again.