Almost 5 years ago, Johnny Zostant, picked up a guitar for the first time. He was 8. Now he is one of the main acts playing on the Cooper River Bridge.
The gig is one more entry in an already impressive resume. Zostant is officially endorsed by GHS Strings and played with the likes of Trapt, Gus G (Ozzy Osbourne) and Vinnie Moore (UFO).
Though he never claims to be shy, Zostant says there is still something that overcomes him when the axe is in his hands.
“There’s definitely a switch that clicks. I’ve noticed that when I get on stage I’m a completely different person,” he says.
That person likes to play fast.
“Personally, I think everybody has a calling, everybody has something that they are just really good at. You just have to find it.”
Johnny found it when he was 9, the dream of a life spent doing what he loves. 5 years later he is the youngest musician playing the Bridge Run, but age hasn’t slowed him down yet.
“My parents have been really supportive and one of the things they always told me is if you want to do something you can’t just waste a bunch of time preparing to do it. You just do it.”
It was advice he took to heart. A year and a half ago Johnny started writing original music and booking his own shows. In 2017 he played 60. Shredding from New York to L.A. to Florida, all while finishing the 7th grade.
At first he says his age put him at a disadvantage. Many people didn’t want to play with him, or they only wanted to play covers. He decided to take his fate into his own hands. He now sees that number as an advantage.
On Saturday nearly 40 thousand people will hear his quick riffs and power chords. An opportunity he says he never imagined could happen this soon.
“It makes me really greatful for the opportunities that I have, honestly. It’s insane.”
He admits his music doesn’t always resonate with his peers, but that hasn’t stopped him either.
“Don’t be afraid that you’re different than what’s popular right now,” he says. “If you have something that you love, regardless of what people tell you, work hard at it and I can almost guarantee you that you will get where you want to get.”
It’s a lesson he learned in every practice session, with every new technique and plateau.
He hopes that message of perseverance, reaches just one person’s ears on Saturday.