SYCAMORE – After serving in the U.S. Army in the 1960s and in the Army Reserves until 1972, all Sycamore resident Robert Fielding wants to do now is play Johnny Cash music.
He's enlisting the help of former Marine Adam Sipe to reach his goal. Sipe is the owner of Chicago Guitar Training Academy of DeKalb and offers lessons out of a studio in his Sycamore home.
"I had a lot of Johnny Cash CDs and had all his songbooks," Fielding said. "That gave [Sipe] material so he could help me accomplish my goal, my dream. So far it's worked out pretty good."
Sipe began offering guitar lessons in the DeKalb area in November. He previously offered classes in Rockford, but has expanded since moving to Sycamore in August.
He also works with Guitars for Vets, a Milwaukee-based nonprofit organization that gives free guitars and free guitar lessons to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Sipe is trying to start a Guitars for Vets chapter in the DeKalb area. He submitted an application and is now on a waiting list.
"The goal is to expand and increase my capability to give more value to the people I'm working with," he said.
Sipe will hold a raffle and fundraiser to help Guitars for Vets during the Kirkland Fourth of July Celebration on July 3 through 5 in Franklin Township Park, 200 S. Third St., Kirkland. All proceeds will benefit Guitars for Vets.
Sipe offers guitar lessons at a discount to veterans because he himself is a veteran. Part of his Marine service included being stationed in the Persian Gulf from 2010 to mid-2011 aboard the USS Enterprise, providing support for troops in the mainlands of Iraq and Afghanistan.
He transitioned from being a military man to a music man after being influenced by his father, who was a piano teacher.
"I've always been wanting to continue to serve people," he said. "Music is a big part of my life."
It's also a big part of DeKalb resident Jason Brandle's life. The 18-year-old graduate of DeKalb High School takes guitar lessons from Sipe. He also plays the piano, mandolin and ukulele, but considers himself most skilled at guitar.
"When it comes to music, you can never know everything," Brandle said. "You can always learn new stuff."
As for Fielding, he has already learned how to play Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire," "I Still Miss Someone," "I Walk the Line" and "Ballad of a Teenage Queen."
"My intention is to, when I'm better, I'm going to do a show," Fielding said.
If you go
What: Kirkland Fourth of July Celebration raffle and fundraiser
When: July 3 through 5 Where: Franklin Township Park, 200 S. Third St., Kirkland
Why: All proceeds will benefit Guitars for Vets, a Milwaukee-based nonprofit organization that gives free guitars and free guitar lessons to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.