At the age of 15, Austin Edgar is fast becoming known as a guitar prodigy.
Austin has played gigs in the Valley and even opened up for blues artist Walkin' Cane Mark and the Disciples of Soul at their recent show at Famous Sam's.
It's little wonder that Austin has, through his adolescence, become so well known in Payson's music community. He shows up nearly every Friday night at Shakey Joe's Songwriter's Cafe to practice his guitar playing, and most recently, singing original songs.
In fact, Austin credits "Shakey" Joe Harless for his initial exposure to the electric guitar.
Three years ago, Austin would ride his bike to Shaker Music. "Joe would let me play the guitars," he said. "I'd stay at his store until my mom called to have Joe send me home."
Harless didn't hesitate to let Austin pick up $1,000 guitars and play them. Seeing his talent and love for music, Harless let Austin take home a guitar.
"Joe let me take it home and let my mom make payments on it," Austin said.
For nearly a year, Austin took guitar lessons from Harless' son, Gus. Then he began performing at Songwriter's Cafe.
"I have met many wonderful musicians who have taught me a lot," Austin said.
One of Austin's most exciting experiences was playing with another young guitar prodigy, J.D. Simo, at a show in the Valley.
"My grandmother asked him if I could play with him at his show," Austin said.
It's little wonder Austin is a musical talent. His mother, Wendy, a nurse at Payson Regional Medical Center, came from a musical family and is a talented singer.
"My grandfather played mandolin in New York night clubs," Wendy said.
Wendy frequently accompanies her son to Songwriter's Cafe and does some performing herself.
Austin's father, Richard, is the town's computer wiz and recently took up the drums.
The three rarely perform together.
"I don't want the whole Partridge Family thing going on," Austin said.
He, does however, appreciate the way his parents have nurtured his gift.
"I also have to give my parents credit for supporting and encouraging me," Austin said. "When I play, my parents tell me to ‘turn it up,' and they take me to as many musical functions as they can."
Austin"s musical inspirations are legendary guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Joe Satriani.
Although he has a few career fall-back positions in case he cannot support himself as a musician, Austin has big plans. He is currently forming a band.
"I want to be a musician right out of high school," Austin said. "I don't really plan on going to college. Right now I'm trying to get a band together so that by the time I'm out of high school we'll be ready to play gigs and make money."
Austin also has written several original songs.
"Instrumentals -- I've written like 20," he said. "Songs with words, probably only five."
Austin's other interests include martial arts, illustrating and drawing. In fact, one of his potential career interests is animation.
When asked if he has any female groupies, Austin blushes. "Ahh I don't know. Not many of them have seen me perform," he said.
Adult audiences are clearly stunned upon hearing this young person playing effortlessly on his purple Fender guitar. With his level of talent at a mere 15 years old, we may well see this boyish face on the cover of Rolling Stone some day.