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Check Out Amanda Lynn Jones’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amanda Lynn Jones.

Hi Amanda Lynn, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today.
I started at the age of 8 years old on the Ukulele. My dad showed me how to play a few chords so I could play Home On The Range. By the 3rd grade, I had my first acoustic guitar and took it to school to show my friends. I hadn’t had any official lessons at this point. I had just picked up a little here and there from my dad or uncle.

By age 11 I had saved up $100 of my own money to buy my first electric guitar off of eBay with my stepbrother’s help. Fate changed my life just before I turned 12 years old. Family dynamics shifted as I went to live with some relatives for 7 years. It was there that I was pulled from public school to be “homeschooled.” Or that’s what we were told to call it anyway.

The reality was that we did the full 9 yards of running a dairy farm. We worked 7 days a week for little pay. We were told that we were adults and could teach ourselves. On one hand, having gone to school up to the 5th grade, I was so happy I didn’t have to go to school anymore. No more tests, no more math, no more reading assignments, no more friends. Wait a minute, no more friends? I didn’t bargain for that. No driving into town unsupervised, no dates, and no freedom.

This reality sank in more and more as I watched the school bus go by with the friends I would have made. Despite there being no immediate freedom we were still supported to pursue productive activities. We developed a wild west show inspired by Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and Bar J Wranglers. We performed over 100 shows of gun spinning, whip cracking, trick roping, and old cowboy songs from the 30s and the 40s.

Our shows ran for 3 years as we played for the tourists that rolled into town. By age 15 I was introduced to the video game guitar hero. After a weekend of playing the game, I vowed that I would play just like the guitar hero I had just heard. For the next 3 years, I taught myself from DVDs, guitar world magazine, music theory books, YouTube, and anything else I could find.

I spent 2 to 5 hours per day and up practicing in between milking the cows and doing my chores. Playing the guitar gave me something to strive for and feel passion for. It helped blur out the family turmoil, the unfair work conditions, and the emotional abuse I was enduring. If I can just become a good enough guitar player and practice hard enough, maybe I can succeed in the outside world… if I can ever get out of here. I’d stare at my guitar heroes on the ceiling longing for the freedom to pursue my dreams as a musician.

My dreams were often shut down when they included ties to the outside world so, I kept my dreams hung up on the attic ceiling. At this time I feared I may never get off the farm and live a normal life as my life was being decided for me every day and I was being heavily brainwashed so I didn’t have faith or courage I would make it if I left. I was also afraid of what my relatives would do without my siblings and I because our work was paying the bills and keeping the roof over our heads.

By the age of 18, I was given a chance to escape from the farm and the unfair dynamics to pursue what I had wanted. I started playing in a country band with my dad out in the boonies at age 18. Finally, I was free to play the guitar outside of my bedroom and I was loving it! By the age of 21, I started working at Dave Wilbur’s Rock Lab in Orem for a little less than a year. Dave was a great mentor. His teaching still influences me to this day from the prep for upcoming gigs down to how I teach as an instructor.

I’m very grateful for his influence as well as his willingness to share his connections. While I lived in Orem I was also introduced to Boothe Brothers music and their theater where I started attending the blues and rock jams that were held on Thursday nights. I was so excited to play and met so many amazing players and people. It really became like a family I was excited to see each week.

I also met Curt Gordon from Spanish Fork who has helped me in my career and been a dear friend over the years. He is a wealth of knowledge about the local happenings and gear. I’m really grateful for his friendship and influence in my life. He has also done an amazing job taking over the Boothe Brothers theater (Now known as Angelus Theater.)

The jams and people I met, completely shaped me as a player and gave me the outlet to grow as a musician. Over the next few years, I was in and out of 6 different bands and learned tons of music. I was playing 2 and 5 gigs per weekend for a long time until I narrowed down the band I jived which is Los Hellcaminos. I honed my skills over the years attended the blues jam at the Green Pig on Mondays, and playing anywhere I could.

I usually walked in as the unsuspecting chick who surprised everyone when I started to play. At age 26 I took a couple of years off from playing in the band to attend to my mental health and start a YouTube channel. I was burnt out and afraid of what might happen if I ignored the warning signs as my childhood trauma had been untreated at this point and had blown up in my face.

I’m 29 now and have attended 3 years of recovery and completed a Christ-based 12-step program from Celebrate Recovery for the trauma I experienced. I’m back with Los Hellcaminos and going stronger than ever with a killer show. My self-taught education experience growing up has served me well as I have studied the many facets of being a musician and entrepreneur. It turns out I got my dream after all. I am making my living as a local but professional musician.

I have written over 100 songs over the last 10 years that helped me cope with the trauma. I haven’t released any of them yet. Once I do, I hope to help others feel less alone in hardship but are in good company with unashamed trauma survivors like myself. The childhood trauma didn’t kill me but made me stronger after all. Oh, if I could only write a letter to that unsuspecting farm girl about who she would become.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has been a rough road if I’m being honest. I’ve had some good success as a musician but behind the scenes, I have suffered sometimes excruciating mental health issues due to years of abuse. Up until the last couple of years, I was living my life for the people who brainwashed and abused me. They had control over how I dressed, how I talked, who I interacted with, and how I viewed the world.

I had always wanted to release my own music but they had such harsh judgment for those who did. They called music artists selfish and egotistical so, to avoid being “selfish,” I wrote songs in private and never released them. I walked on eggshells believing I was a bad person and constantly lived in guilt believing God was going to punish me and that the world was going to end.

I was trauma bonded with these people. When I finally got away from them, I found that I had a false identity based on those trauma bonds. Since the first of my trauma started so early, I never had a safe place to create a real identity. So for the last 3 years, I’ve been finding out who I really am. It’s more painful than I can describe separating from abusers.

For me, it was hitting rock bottom. As I was going through recovery my identity was crumbling and I didn’t know who I was anymore. My absolutes were gone and with that my resolve. I put all of my efforts into recovery because at the time I was afraid that one day it would make sense to end my own life. My drive to teach myself was great when I learned to play the guitar. I’m great at researching and obsessing to learn new skills.

This would have been a bad combination if I became fixated on ending it. I’m so grateful to be here today. Because I went through such hardship, I now get to help others who are struggling in the same way. It’s brought meaning to my life. I have a heart for those who suffer the same way I did. I went through some terrible things but I’m grateful that God can take something so terrible and use it in a way that lifts others up.

I have met so many strangers who spilled their hearts to me because I have learned to speak to those who are suffering and give them a safe place where they feel heard and loved. I hope to continue doing that for the rest of my life. It’s the best way I can pay it forward.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am an electric guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, and performer. I play solo gigs locally. I play with my band Los Hellcaminos. I am known for my abilities as a guitarist. I have played for years and continue to work on my craft as a musician. I have learned to read a room and command a crowd in multiple circumstances. When people ask what I play I tell them everything from Led Zeppelin to Dolly Parton.

I play a wide variety of music and have a setlist of 300 songs I choose from. I also teach guitar. My favorite subject to teach is creativity. I love helping students to unlock levels of music and parts of themselves they didn’t know they had. I love helping create the freedom of expression to play, write and grow. I feel the same way when I get booked for weddings. I love creating an ambiance that fills the room and creates a unique experience for each client. I think what sets me apart from others is my natural inclination to obsess over the process.

Whenever I study a new part of the industry whether it’s branding, marketing, business, production, or editing, I obsess and continue to dive deep to learn and better myself. To make money as a musician it’s important to have the ability to diversify your time and work. I love studying all of the working parts that make up the music business.

What do you like best about our city? What do you like least?
I love the music scene. I’ve had people tell me that I should move to Nashville or LA but, I think there is so much opportunity right here. It’s a great place to be a musician. Both Salt Lake, Provo, and Spanish Fork area.

It makes me sad to see the number of homeless people wandering around Salt Lake. I’ve felt less safe when walking about where I’ll see someone doped out of their mind yelling at something that isn’t there. Where I am an advocate of recovery I know that addiction is most often based on trauma so it makes me sad to think of those people who are hurting and act out from the trauma.

Pricing:

  • Guitar Lessons: $60 per hr.
  • Wedding Pricing Range: $1200 – $3000
  • Private Events Range : $300 – $1200

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Brittany Palmer and Amanda Miller

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