So, how does a kid from Roslindale end up performing country music? It’s another interest he shares with his brother Bob, who was also an accomplished high school hockey coach at Quincy and is a guitar aficionado.
“Bob and I became big Waylon Jennings fans. We went and saw him play in Cambridge, and got to go back stage and meet him,” said Sylvia. “We’ve always liked Waylon, and of course Johnny Cash. It’s just one of those things. I liked the music. I liked the beat.”
He also reaches back a little further when performing, offering up covers of Roy Orbison and other older musicians.
“I’ve always done old time rock ‘n’ roll,” said Sylvia. “Of course, I always tell people I play that because I have an older brother and sister, not because I’m that old,” Sylvia adds with a smile. “I’ve always enjoyed them, and have had a lot of fun through the years playing that kind of music.”
Still, it’s one thing to learn to play the guitar as a hobby, it’s another thing to play in front of a group of people.
“We used to have a band,” said Sylvia. “We would play the Green Harbor Yacht Club. One night we played, and we all made $15 apiece, and we thought we were in the big time. It was a great summer job. I mean, we used to caddy at The Marshfield Country Club and do 18 holes, and we would only make $3. So to be able to make $15 on a gig, that’s five days of caddying.”
You never know what kind of an audience Sylvia will be performing in front of. Some shows, he’s playing to the parents of his players. Other shows, there can be former players in the crowd.
“It’s different now,” said Sylvia. “Now I’m getting former players showing up with their kids, and it just reminds you of how old you really are,” said Sylvia with a laugh.
It adds up to a great way to spend a summer afternoon, but good luck keeping track of Sylvia’s schedule. After decades of coaching, Sylvia is adept at dealing with the media, but you won’t find him promoting his music career. He is content with having his appearances spread by word of mouth.
“I know, one of my daughters was telling me I should,” Sylvia said when asked if he had a website where people could look up his schedule. “But it’s really just about having fun.”
So while you may not see him on Facebook, you can catch him most Saturday afternoons at The Beachcomber in Wollaston. If you’re lucky, you might also find him playing a yacht club in Marshfield or at a bar on Nantasket Beach or Plymouth throughout the summer.
“Guitar-playing has always been fun for me,” said Sylvia. “I’ve always enjoyed it. It’s never been about anything but fun. I always said that the day it ever became about business, I’d never be interested in playing again.”
Follow Andrew Mahoney on Twitter at @AJMahoney91.