John Brisotti ’73 played guitar at Hamilton and had a mandolin that he picked up on occasion. After college he kept learning, mostly by ear, before taking lessons with Mike Compton, perhaps the foremost Bill Monroe-style mandolinist today.
Brisotti didn’t realize how much playing with others meant to him until the early 1980s, when his fledgling insurance business and family responsibilities began overwhelming his music. “There was a time where I didn’t play music with people. I was unhappy and didn’t know why,” he recalls. “My wife and I had a conversation one night, and realized that I really needed to play.”
From then on, he did, at least once a week, even as the couple raised three children, and Brisotti ran his company. He retired about five years ago.
“I would play for at least two hours every morning. And, you know, it was just wonderful. I probably did that for at least six or eight months,” he says.
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For decades, he’s been in the band Eastbound Freight, which is starting to get in the post-pandemic swing of things. The band played a party in May. Comfortable shoes were in order for guests.
“Every bluegrass player knows you always want to start a show with a quick tune to get people’s attention and make their feet start to move, so we started with ‘Big Country’ by Jimmy Martin,” Brisotti says.