Troy WiendenheimerA moment with Troy Weidenheimer is priceless. He has a casual, humorous approach to life, yet he’s searching for its true essence – what makes things and people click and run.
Originally wanting to study science, he ended up studying business in college then became a corporate speech writer for an ad agency.

“I had no background in writing but I wrote some samples for an ad agency and the agency hired me as a speech writer, I have a knack for writing speeches.It was not unusual for ad agencies to hire someone off the street. They didn’t care if you had a degree only that you were flexible, creative and could come up with new concepts.”

But music was his first flight into adulthood and an attempt to make a living. Both his parents were musicians; his dad played the drums and his mother was a vocalist and played the piano for Becky York’s Blues Rhythm Band.

A blues, jazz and rock musician, who also played in country bands, Weidenheimer also taught mandolin, guitar, electric guitar and bass. While living in San Francisco in the early ‘60s and managing Dana Morgan’s Music Store, Weidenheimer was teaching guitar when he met Jerry Garcia, who was also giving guitar and banjo lessons. They met back in 1961 at a folk club in San Carlos. It was there Garcia played folk songs and Weidenheimer played the Ventures or Jimmy Reed songs on the electric guitar. He referred to folk as “hamburger music,” but stopped by to jam with Garcia and others.

In 1963, Weidenheimer formed the band The Zodiacs and invited Garcia to join and play bass.

Garcia recalled the influence his friend had on him during those years. Garcia’s comments are a true reflection of Weidenheimer’s approach to life and everything he does. Garcia, who died in 1995, stated in a Grateful Dead blog, “Troy taught me the principle of ‘hey, stomp your foot and get on it.’ He was a great one for the instant arrangement, fearless for that thing of ‘get your friends to do it and forget it if ain’t slick, it’s supposed to be fun.’ He had a wide-open style of playing that was very, very loose.”

Garcia further stated, “He was a wonderful, inventive, fun and good-humored guitar player. One of the first guys I ever heard who exhibited a real sense of humor on the guitar. He was quite accomplished. I mean in those days he was certainly the hot-rod guitar player of Palo Alto as far as electric guitar was concerned.” Weidenheimer later moved to Vancouver, Canada, where he opened his own music store, Troy Music, after his brush with the first undeveloped band of the Grateful Dead.

These days, he can be found still jamming and teaching music on Monday nights from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Palmyra Country Store.

“The only place you can have a blue grass jam session is at the Beaver Dam Baptist Church. Many are not sure how to go about getting these types of groups together,” said Weidenheimer. He describes his ongoing classes as guitar 102 for near beginners to advanced players 15 plus. Those participating will build their lead-playing and accompaniment skills in what he calls a lighthearted, easy-going gathering of fellow guitar enthusiasts.

“There will be easy enough tunes so the less-experienced players can strum along but that those more advanced can work on their lead and fill playing. All the tunes will be vocals, so participants can work on their lead or background singing,” said Weidenheimer. “The goal is to strengthen each guitarist’s skills playing acoustic rhythm and lead in a jamming type ensemble setting.”

Bob Ullenbruch, owner of the Palmyra Country Store says Weidenheimer’s classes are well attended and gives it positive support. People are always welcome to come listen while enjoying some ice cream.

Not only is Weidenheimer a jack of all trades but of hobbies too and his infinite curiosity is limitless. He has designed radio control planes and Japanese kites and even learned knitting, crocheting and weaving.

“You would find me sitting in a corner crocheting. I thought it was cool. People would say ‘look at the vegetarian over there in the corner, knitting. But this compelled me to see how things were made. In my front yard is a sail boat I made from scratch. Everything is so endlessly fascinating.”

Art is another passion he shares with others and has been teaching a series of workshops on value and light to his fellow artists at the Fluvanna Art Association. His interest in art began in junior high and he then discovered the therapeutic side of art when he wrote for ad agencies.
“I found respite in art while I was writing, it was therapy for me.”

Weidenheimer has been very helpful to his fellow artists who appreciate his insight and have been enlightened by it. His philosophy regarding art is simple.

“I was working on trying to rescue a large oil landscape from a short trip to the dumpster. I am a strong believer in the idea that when a painting starts to go bad don’t keep beating on it. Hang it on a wall somewhere that you can look at in passing each day,” he said. “Often we get stuck on a project because at this moment in time we lack the ‘eye’ or technique to go any further. But further down the road the odds are good we will have improved and can solve the problems.” These are lessons well learned in the FAA workshops.

“In one case a painting I did had lots of problems. I put it aside three years ago, completely stumped about how to get it on track. I tackled it again, managing to save it from the dumpster. It’s not a masterpiece but it has mood and holds together and you can ‘read’ it from a distance finally, which was an earlier problem with the values being too similar between the focal point, an old lakeside cabin, and the background, woods and hills, all just at daybreak with a lot of fog on the lake,” he said. “Of course often the problems are of our own making. In this case since it was an imaginary scene and I had no real picture to refer to and had to devise everything.”

Weidenheimer, a Kansas native, moved to Fluvanna from St. Louis with his wife, who teaches English and literature. Together, they are forever exploring unknown territory, whether it be writing, music or art.

His classes are ongoing but the summer session begins July 11 with limited space. There is a monthly tuition fee to attend and participants can start anytime. For more information call the Palmyra Country Store at 434-242-6807 to sign up or e-mail Troy Weidenheimer at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit his website at rakun.com/music.