By Bruce GIBSON
As guitarist for the Grammy-nominated jazz-fusion band Seawind, La Crescenta resident Buddy Nuanez has played numerous gigs locally as well as around the world. Though he’s no longer touring or playing the clubs anymore, Buddy can be seen playing live five times each weekend at one local venue – Montrose Church.
As the music director at Montrose Church, Buddy is not only responsible for the overall sound and interpretation of the music performed, but also writes the song arrangements and gets the chance to show off his chops playing in the band.
Raised in Phoenix, Ariz., Buddy took up the guitar around the age of 5. While visiting his grandparents one summer, Buddy’s grandfather gave him a guitar that he had accepted as payment from a customer at his store.
Early on, Buddy ran into some roadblocks in his quest to become a guitarist. In the fourth grade Buddy was told there was no place for the guitar in the school band, so he tried the trumpet instead. A few years later, however, he had to give it up due to a serious injury.
Following high school, Buddy began studying music at Glendale Community College in Glendale, Ariz. This time, after being told that the guitar was not a true instrument, Buddy switched to the saxophone and then went on to fail his first-year music courses. Buddy eventually enrolled at Berklee College of Music in Boston and, after graduating in 1969, set out on the road, playing guitar with several Top-40 cover bands.
One night, Buddy received a call from the Hawaii-based band “Ox,” saying they were in need of a guitar player. Buddy flew from Phoenix to the band’s gig in Alaska and became a permanent member of the band. After moving to Los Angeles in 1976 and changing their name to “Seawind,” the band began to get steady work playing local clubs including The Baked Potato in Studio City and The Roxy on the Sunset Strip.
Soon the band was signed to a recording contract, eventually releasing four albums for CTI, Horizon and A&M Records. While not generally marketed as “Christian” music, many of Seawind’s songs contains religious or positive themes, as most of the band’s members are Christians.
As happens all to often, differences in musical concepts and direction began to wear on the group, eventually leading to the band’s members going their separate ways. Following the breakup of Seawind in 1982, Buddy worked at a variety of odd jobs to make ends meet, finding it difficult to get work in the music business. During those years he continued to play music, working with several bands, playing guitar on TV sitcoms and even composing and recording music for some low-budget movies.
In 1990, Buddy recorded a solo CD, “40:31,” for Pony Canyon Records in Japan. The title of the CD, which is also the name of Buddy’s music company, refers to the biblical passage of Isaiah 40:31. In 2009, nearly 30 years since their last new release, Seawind reunited and released a new CD, “Reunion,” followed up with two sold-out nights of concerts at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.
Over the years, Buddy has played for Trini Lopez, Frankie Avalon and even Bob Hope, and although he’s faced some long, bleak periods in the course of his career, he says he “still feels honored and privileged to be able to do what he does for a living.” Buddy credits his Christian faith for helping him through the lean times and his wife, Chris, for “putting up with him all those years.”
These days, besides his work at Montrose Church, Buddy continues to do some studio recording and also writes music for radio and TV as well as for Muzak. You can find more information on Buddy and Seawind at www.seawindjazz.com and hear some of Buddy’s recordings at www.myspace.com/buddynuanez.