After graduating high school and after a semester in college I dropped out and joined the US Navy. During my navy time I was able to find a few like-minded sailors who would get together for jam sessions.
After a few years of blues jamming with fellow shipmate musicians one of my commanding officers realized that he had a great tool for diplomacy and we were soon being booked in foreign ports to play for various US Navy sponsored social mixers with the local population, and it was never any problem to find gigs in the local clubs when we were not already booked.
During several visits to various cities in Australia and New Zealand, while the rest of the Navy was busy patrolling the area near Iran during the hostage crisis of the late 70s, our little group, HATS (Hell And Terror Supreme), played several small venues and social gatherings, again, with the intent being diplomacy.
In the early 80s my violin was destroyed and my hand was crushed as well. This was followed by some upper spinal damage which made violin playing a painful ordeal. I lost heart and I didn't pick up a violin again until a few weeks ago and have discovered that I can still play... and without pain.
I now play the blues with a group of musicians on Monday nights at The Irish Coast Pub in Gulfport, MS, and, as you can probably guess, traditional Irish music as well.