Getting Personal: Lou DiBello
Each week, we offer an email Q&A with a local personality. Today, Paul Wood chats with 49-year-old Urbana resident Lou DiBello, a professional guitarist for the band ESP and The Live Jukebox Show. He also is a guitar instructor and an all-around guitar repair/consultation guy at Corson Music Guitar Store in Urbana.
What time do you typically get up? What do you do the first hour of the morning?
At 6:30 or 7 if I sleep in. Make coffee, read online news and The News-Gazette (yes the actual paper paper), listen to WDWS. Then take coffee to my wife and make breakfast for my daughter.
What do you consider your greatest achievement or accomplishment?
Making a respectable living with my hands and ears.
What do you regard as your most treasured possession?
I have some nice guitars and all that, but this question does not make me think of material things. My most treasured possession would be my family and the love we share.
Do you have a guilty pleasure and what is it?
The "Underworld" and "Resident Evil" movie series. I could watch those all day.
What book are you reading now? What is your favorite book ever?
Haven't read a lot lately but a favorite would probably be something by Kurt Vonnegut or Hunter S. Thompson.
Where on Earth are you dying to go? Why?
I would love to go back to Jamaica; we went there on our honeymoon. More "wishful thinking" would be Egypt and/or Peru and Bolivia to see some megalithic ruins in person.
Tell me about your favorite pet.
I have had many great dogs — and showed dogs very competitively for a number of years. Showing dogs is a wonderful sport and passion that I will always be interested in or participating in. We have four basenjis now. Hard to really pick a favorite, although Daisy, who sadly passed suddenly in the prime of life, holds a very special place in my heart.
What's your favorite sports team?
I'm a Bulls/Bears/Cubs guy.
What would you order for your last meal?
A good steak is a likely candidate.
If you could be reincarnated after you die, what would you like to come back as?
A basenji in the wild.
Who are your favorite musicians and why?
Jimi Hendrix has got to be close to the top. He was the first to so completely present the electric rock guitar solo in the context we now think of it. Uli Jon Roth is a German guitarist who has done more than most players to really expand the Hendrix approach, to include more of a classical element while still maintaining the organic vibe of Jimi's playing. George Benson, the great jazz guitarist, is one of my first big guitar influences for sure. And my uncle Dave McCombs, a monster jazz player and my first inspiration to play. Also local guitarist Brian Wilkie. Non-guitarist favorites include Buddy Rich, Elton John and sax player Tom Scott.
What's the happiest memory of your life?
My wedding day and the birth of my daughter are tops, for sure.
If you could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, whom would you invite? What would you serve?
Motivational speaker and author Anthony Robbins, Bobby Knight and John Madden. Robbins is quite an intriguing personality with some good insights. I once heard a lengthy radio show with Knight and Madden talking about their approach to, and experiences with, coaching and mental attitude, bringing out the best in yourself and others and more. Really fascinating to hear the perspectives from those who are so ultimately successful in their chosen field. The menu would be inconsequential. I would be happy to eat Ramen noodles if I could pick the brains of those guys for a while. If I were host, I would find out what they liked and serve that.
Which historical figure do you admire the most and why?
The true conquerors, like Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan, are the people I find the most compelling. To achieve the degree of focus and execution of vision that they did, at that level, is something only few can ever achieve, regardless of the venue. And to think what they were able to accomplish without the aid of any modern technology is infinitely impressive.
What personality trait do you most hate in other people? Most hate in yourself?
In others, selfishness. In myself, tardiness. Most of us could use a little more self-discipline, and I am no exception.
What's your best piece of advice?
Know what you are talking about and choose your battles wisely.
What was your first job and how much did you make an hour?
My first job was delivering the Courier. I was very young; probably 12 years old. I don't remember the pay, but it seemed pretty reasonable at the time. I later delivered The News-Gazette as well.
What was a pivotal decision in your career and how did you arrive at that decision?
Committing myself to making a living playing and teaching music. How I arrived there is hard to say, other than it was an entirely natural, relatively effortless process for me. I certainly developed much of my playing and knowledge from several teachers early on and then while attending the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles. Among other things, they focused particularly on what it takes to make a career in music, and I have never looked back. That being said, I really don't feel like I am working at all, in that while I have to take care of business, of course, it comes effortlessly to me and is almost always immensely enjoyable. I am indeed very fortunate. I am involved in some aspect of the guitar every day, doing what I love.
Do you have any regrets in your life? What are they?
Nothing really jumps out at me as a real regret. There are different decisions one can make at any point along the way; we will never know the results of those "other" possibilities not pursued.
How do you handle a stressful situation?
Breathe deeply, then begin to analyze from as many perspectives as possible to gain an insight as to how to view the situation in a less stressful light.