A common adage soft-pedaled to many aspiring musicians is “don’t quit your day job.” That prickly little quip is often spoken by a parent, spouse, or other partner as an unsolicited epilogue to sentences such as, “Your band is good.”
If you’re in a band that is trying to make it, it’s an annoying and frankly unsupportive phrase to hear. Yet for session guitarist Mark Lettieri, it’s pretty good advice. His day job is playing music, after all. As a player, composer, and producer, Lettieri’s career has taken him all over the country as part of multiple groups. His main band, Snarky Puppy, has toured every continent except Antarctica, as well as three trips to Los Angeles to win as many Grammy awards.
Years before he walked on stage with Snarky Puppy to accept the band’s first Grammy (in 2014, in the Best R&B Performance category for their song “Something,” featuring singer Lalah Hathaway), he was a freshman at TCU, an out-of-state student from the San Francisco Bay area majoring in advertising/public relations and competing on the track team as a long jumper and occasional relay sprinter. He also played guitar, a hobby begun on his dad’s acoustic when he was 10 or 11.