Electric guitar kit purchase pays off in skilled teen musician

Wiltondale teen Ethan Lake is gaining national recognition for his skills as a blues musician.
Wiltondale teen Ethan Lake is gaining national recognition for his skills as a blues musician. (Courtesy Photo/Alison Harbaugh)

On Aug. 30, American Blues Scene (www.americanbluesscene.com) praised the talents of a new musician named Ethan Lake. Hey, guess what? Ethan’s a hometown boy! The 16-year-old Wiltondale resident is garnering national attention.

Ethan’s parents, Todd and Joan Lake — musicophiles themselves — are super proud as they watch his path unfold. Ethan was a typical baby who loved all kinds of music — from Baby Mozart to the Rolling Stones. At age 2, his preschool music teacher at Tide Point noted Ethan had near perfect pitch. While a student at Stoneleigh Elementary School, he kept busier with Legos, military history, robotics, Star Wars, baseball and doing spot-on impersonations. At Dumbarton Middle, Ethan didn’t show any exceptional musical prowess (often last chair in cello), but he has consistently had an ear for and appreciation of music.


While Christmas shopping when Ethan was 11, mom Joan came across a $99 Fender Mini Strat electric guitar kit on Amazon, and thought it might be a fun gift. Ethan started taking some lessons at School of Rock in 2014. At the DMS Holiday Talent show as a skinny, Santa-hatted seventh-grader, Ethan wowed the crowd with his oversized guitar and amp plugged into the PA system, playing “Crazy Train,” “Seven Nation Army,” and “Back in Black.”

Ethan has now learned from legendary Baltimore guitar teachers Tobias Hurwitz, Carl Filipiak, Charles Simon and Ron Williams. He has played with multiple youth bands at festivals and restaurants. He has also played with adults at open mics and jam sessions since age 15. Ethan has been grateful for opportunities to hone his live performance skills at Cat’s Eye Pub, 8x10, Zen West, Ashland Cafe, Ye Olde Emerald Tavern and Howard’s Pub.

With help from dad Todd, Ethan developed a presence on YouTube, Instagram and Twitter, and an Ethan Lake Blues Show website (www.ethanlakebluesshow.com). In 2016, Ethan began to explore adding his voice as an instrument through vocal lessons with Ashley Higginbottham and now under Carol Wescott. Last fall, Ethan recorded his debut three-song studio release, “15 Year Old Dreams.”

Now a junior at Towson High, Ethan is immersed in the music programs offered there, playing electric guitar in Jazz Band, Guitar GT, and in the Marching Band’s “pit section” under the tutelage of David Rhen, John Olin, Callie Ferrell and Darren Jackson. He also plays in the Percussion Ensemble and wants to pursue piano, but his true love is the guitar.

Music abounds in the Lake household. A former playroom has been transformed into a studio. The basement also houses a basic $100 drum kit, and upstairs there’s a 1950s’ Baldwin piano bought at a Stoneleigh estate sale for $35.

“We never premeditated or pressured him to pursue music,” Joan Lake said. “I did suggest joining Marching Band, but it’s more so the classic nature-and-nurture story, with a bit of serendipity mixed in. A music-rich environment, parents who love music, a good ear and a guitar bought without pretense has ended up with a teen who loves all forms of music, and can bend the blues with great joy.”