Tag Archives: Danny Fishman

Danny Fishman: From Goldman Sachs To Guitar Tracks

In 2015 — straight out of college — Danny Fishman landed what many Westporters consider a dream job: Goldman Sachs.

It seemed like the perfect segue: from Staples High School and Tufts University, to prestige, stability and happiness.

Except it wasn’t.

Fishman had always been successful. At Staples, he was part of state and FCIAC championship volleyball teams. He snagged a Goldman internship in college, the summer before senior year.

Danny Fishman, Staples High School volleyball star.

Yet, he says now, that internship — and the subsequent job offer — was just “a retreat to safety.”

His good friend Andrew Accardi died during Fishman’s junior year at Tufts. “I did a lot of soul-searching,” Fishman says. “I felt lucky for my own life, and terrible that his had been cut short. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I just knew I didn’t want to drift passively.”

He set his sights on finance, as “a challenge. I thought I’d find purpose and direction there.”

He moved to Battery Park. He was assigned to the prime brokerage branch in the securities division. He learned the ropes and earned greater responsibilities, including client interaction. There was plenty of socializing with his fellow hires.

However, he says, “I didn’t identify with the values of the people around me. The uniformity, the hive mind, the mentality of what success looked like — it was omnipresent.”

He did not fit in.

Danny Fishman

“From an abstract point of view, I don’t disagree with the sense of vicious competitiveness,” Fishman explains. “I just didn’t see myself that way.”

He felt “beat up, exhausted. I didn’t know if I had a ton to offer, or if I should offer what I had.”

Though it was “a pretty miserable experience from the get-go,” he does not want to exaggerate the experience. Half of his best friends now are people he met at work.

He had made a commitment to himself to stick it out — “if I get good at this, will I feel better about it?” he asked himself — but when he got a how-you-doing postcard from Accardi’s mother, he took it as a sign.

After a year and a half at Goldman Sachs, he quit.

Fishman moved back home to Westport (an option he knows is not readily available to many). He “let go of the fear of trying to pursue something in music” — a hobby that had always brought him joy and energy, but that he had never committed himself to.

He studied the craft of performing. He wrote music. He took a cross-country trip, crashing on friends’ couches and stepping up at open mic nights in Nashville, Austin, Denver and Los Angeles.

Wherever he stopped, he made new friends.

Danny Fishman on stage.

Fishman recorded a demo of songs he’d written. He “stumbled forward,” learning about promotion and booking.

His first single got 28,000 plays on Spotify. His second got 9,000 in just the first 5 days.

Back home, he met Katie Noonan in a doctor’s waiting room. They chatted; he learned she was a musician too. He had his guitar — he brings it everywhere — and sang for her. She’s offered plenty of support (including a gig at her 50th birthday party).

“A rising tide lifts all boats,” Fishman has learned. “And failure doesn’t feel bad when it’s in pursuit of something you want to do.”

When he “failed” in finance, he says, “I beat myself up. In music, failure leads to something productive.”

The music community, he found, is not a zero-sum game. He has been helped by many performers, writers and producers, and tries to help others.

Danny Fishman and Katie Noona

I told Fishman that a story like this will bring negative comments from readers, lambasting him for turning his back on a well-paying job he got in part because of his background, then returning to that very environment.

“I am super, super lucky to have parents with a home I can come back to,” he says. “Westport is a beautiful place, with lots of resources. I know I’ve been blessed in life.”

But, he continues, “Having money doesn’t make everything easy. If people don’t view my experiences as legit, nothing I can do will change that.”

So, if he went back to counsel himself as a Staples senior in 2011 — not knowing what he wanted, or how to get it — what would he say?

“Try not to worry so much about what other people think of you,” he says. “Be who you are, even if it doesn’t conform to the image of success others painted for you.”

Meanwhile, Danny Fishman will continue to record and tour. He’ll try to “stay true to what I want, and pursue it maturely and responsibly.”

Sounds like a recipe for success, in any field.

The Wayside: You Heard Them Here First

Back in his “Highway 61” days, Bob Dylan could have written “Searching for My Twin.”

But he didn’t. Dustin Lowman did.

The lyrics, voice, intonation, guitar, harmonica, rhythm — all evoke Dylan, when he played Greenwich Village coffeehouses in the early 1960s.

In 2012 Dustin does Main Street, right here in Westport.

But he’s not alone.

The Wayside (from left): Dustin Lowman, Danny Fishman, Devin Lowman, Sam Weiser. (Photo/Eric Essagof)

Longtime friend and fellow guitarist Danny Fishman, drummer/brother Devon Lowman and violinist/bassist/musical genius Sam Weiser join him, forming The Wayside.

Remember the name.

The folk-rock — really, folk-to-rock — group is tearing up the area.

They’re all over Facebook and YouTube, too.

It took more than 40 years for Dylan to do that.

Dustin Lowman (Photo/Gabe Schindler)

The Wayside goes way back. Dustin and Danny were friends at age 7. They played on the same Little League team (the Huskies), but gave up baseball for music.

By 8th grade at Coleytown Middle School, Dustin was writing poetic lyrics — a nod to his musical hero, Dylan.

Dustin and Danny — he’s more of a John Mayer fan — went to the National Guitar Workshop together. Their playing and songwriting attracted attention from the likes of Livingston Taylor.

But the Wayside didn’t come together until a couple of years ago, when Devon and Sam joined. Sam’s crazy-good fiddle-style violin playing adds a special twist on folk-y, introspective-type numbers; he switches to bass for more rock-y stuff. Danny and Dustin write most of the material. The other 2 guys grab it, and make each song their own.

Danny Fishman (Photo/Gabe Schindler)

Their 1st gig was the 2010 EcoFest. Their tight, crisp, mature-beyond-their-years sound and clever lyrics drew immediate attention (and comparisons to not only Dylan and John Mayer, but the Avett Brothers and The Tallest Man on Earth).

In Dylan’s early days, the Wayside would have played local clubs, attracted attention from promoters, signed with a label, cut a 45, been heard on radio stations, hit the big time, gathered groupies and gone on from there.

But the music industry has changed. There are fewer venues, no 45s or radio stations. Groupies are looking for the next Mark Zuckerberg.

So the Wayside does things the new way. They play for free on places like Main Street. They make EPs. Their music is on ReverbNation. Their Facebook fan page draws plenty of attention. They’ve got a YouTube channel.

They’ve also got a manager — Staples grad Michael Mugrage (who toured with Orleans and Ronnie Spector, and worked with James Brown and Bruce Hornsby).

The Wayside not only plays smart; they are smart. Dustin is a rising sophomore at Middlebury College. After a year at Vassar, Danny is transferring to Tufts. Sam is entering his first year at the New England Conservatory, while Devon has one more year at Staples.

They’re not sure what’s ahead after college. But they love what they do; they love playing with each other. They’re heartened by their very enthusiastic fans (including Tommy Byrne, who made guitars for Steely Dan).

Keep your eyes — and especially your ears — open for The Wayside. Catch their raw videos on YouTube, and like them on Facebook.

And check them out on a Main Street near you. It may not be Bleecker Street, but everyone starts somewhere.

(Click below for 3 Wayside YouTube videos.)