HOUSTON – Loren Jay Gough said he knew it was time to take it to 11 – and a half.
The guitarist, with the local band Engineered Society Project, was in his house as the Houston floodwaters finally receded after inching halfway up his driveway.
“We were watching the news, (watching the storm) break up and dissipate. (Water) had receded almost to the curb at that point, so I thought, ‘We’re good,’” Gough said.
That’s when Gough, who plays by ear, grabbed his guitar, turned up his amp to its highest setting a la "This is Spinal Tap," and played a song he swears he’d never played before.
“I gave the ‘Star-Spangled Banner' my best shot,” he told KPRC.
Gough said he didn’t expect the reaction from his neighbors. “I was honestly just glad we got through it all,” Gough said, referring to the flooding. “The neighbors were out, the sun peeked out and I said, ‘I got to do this and I did.’ ... It was a good excuse to turn my amp up to 11 -- and a half. ”
A neighbor, Sharye Fabbri, ran out of her house to capture the melody on camera. She didn't know who was playing at the time, but eventually found out and told KPRC, who spoke to Gough Friday by phone.
Gough, 52, has played guitar since he was 15 years old. The Salt Lake City native moved to the Houston area seven years ago from Kansas.
“I’m not a native Texan. I’ve been here for seven years,” he said. “I’ve never in my life seen such an outpouring of love for each other (since Harvey). Strangers helping strangers. And it makes me proud to be here.”
Gough learned his playing went viral at a neighborhood barbecue shortly after his performance. He said someone handed him a phone, told him about the story on KPRC and beyond, and he said, “You gotta be kidding me.”
“I’m really glad that it touched so many people,” Gough said Friday. “That’s what you hope to do as a musician -- you hope to touch people in a positive way. And that apparently happened, so that makes me feel good.”