Berklee grad gets a chance to play 'Stairway to Heaven' in front of Jimmy Page, and nails it

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Marco Werman: No "Stairway" - um, actually, yes "Stairway" - "Stairway to Heaven," Led Zeppelin, the guitar rock anthem of all time. Overplayed? Perhaps. Not if you're Sebastian Fernandez though. He's a budding guitarist from Buenos Aires who just graduated from Berklee College of Music here in Boston. But at one of the Berklee commencement programs, Fernandez got the chance to play Stairway in front of Jimmy Page, who is, of course, lead guitarist for Led Zeppelin. This is what Page heard coming out of Fernandez' guitar. Werman: The next day, Jimmy Page commented on the performance. Jimmy Page: What a spirit there is here. Absolutely amazing, the quality of musicianship that was shown last night was really moving. Thank you so much for the interpretation of my music. That was really touching. Werman: Sebastian Fernandez joins us now from New York. Congratulations on this great swan song going out of Berklee. Did you grow up listening to Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin in Buenos Aires? Fernandez: Well, first, thank you very much for all of this. Yes, I actually started listening to Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Hendrix and all of that classic rock when I was about 15 or so. I was kind of late but I remember my uncle Martin, he showed me all of that stuff. He put Frank Zappa and Jimmy and all of that stuff on my iPod and since then really it's been a new life for me. Something happened and from there I've been very influenced by Led Zeppelin and all of that stuff. Werman: What was going through your mind when you played in front of one of your guitar heroes? Were you at all nervous? Fernandez: It wasn't nervous. I love playing live, I love the spiritual place that it takes me to. I think I was really connected to that emotion. I just felt great energy, I felt like I belong there, I could Jimmy while I was playing, so it was like living a dream but being conscious about it. It was probably the best show and moment of my life so far. Werman: How old were you when you first started playing "Stairway to Heaven"? Fernandez: Like 18. I got into rock n roll kind of late. I've played guitar since I was 6-years-old but I used to listen to Green Day, Offspring, Blink 182, but then my uncle just told me "Hey, this is what you should be doing." Since then, I've been playing. I also remember I played in Berklee; every year you have to do a guitar exam and I played the solo of "Stairway to Heaven" for a guitar exam and since then I've been playing it all the time. Sometimes I listen to a solo and I imagine myself playing it in front of the people who actually wrote it. So the fact that it happened is just very emotional. Werman: What's next for you Sebastian? Fernandez: I'm very happy to have graduated because I couldn't take going to class anymore. Werman: Who loves that? Fernandez: Yeah. That's enough for me, that's what I say. Werman: Now onto the real world and the shedding city that is New York. Fernandez: Exactly. I know it's going to be hard work, but I like it. My main project right now is my band, Stone Giant. We actually performed "The Ocean" that night. The band is Joal(?), Pedro, Pepe and then we had Dave and Philippe joining us on stage, which were singers. But I'm actually the guitarist and the singer of the band and we've been playing a lot in Boston and New York and it looks like we're going to be heading to South America and Portugal and some places to play some festivals. We're going to be releasing our album this Summer. We're really just looking to tour and all of that stuff. With these guys, I feel very comfortable with the sounds we've been getting. Everything is really tight, so I'm really looking forward to doing all of this stuff and actually becoming what I always envisioned myself to be. Werman: I think you'll get there. Berklee music grad Sebastian Fernandez, thank you for joining us. Fernandez: Thank you very much.