When he was 14, Paul Steward got his first electric guitar, purchased at a pawn shop, as a Christmas present from his father.
It turned out to be a very good investment on Dad's part.
As the leaders of the band Twice as Good, Paul, now 29, and his father, Richard Steward, 62, now play some 120 shows a year across California and the rest of the country.
Many of those performances are at American Indian casinos, including the Graton Resort and Casino, which is gratifying to the Stewards, because they're Native Americans from the Elem Indian Colony in Clearlake Oaks.
"We've received a lot of great praise, help, encouragement and support from the Native American community," Paul Steward said. "It's been a blessing to us. We're proud and honored."
The Stewards moved away from the Elem Indian Colony in 1995 but remain active members.
A couple of years ago, Twice as Good — sometimes known as 2XG — performed at the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, N.M., drawing tens of thousands of attendees from more than 500 tribes of indigenous people from the United States, Canada and other parts of the world.
The band made its professional debut at a Santa Rosa barbecue restaurant in 2003.
"Since then, we've gone from playing for our friends and relatives at house parties on various reservations, to getting gigs in clubs and working our way up to casino stages," the younger Steward said.
"We play wherever the work is," said the father, Richard, who plays rhythm guitar.
The Stewards perform both as a duo and as a quartet, often backed by bassist Rob Watson and drummer Bobby Gaviola, and occasionally by others.
The group plays a mixture of original material, rock, jazz and classic blues. The younger Steward traces his love for the blues to a B.B. King record, brought home by an uncle when Paul was a boy.
"I said, 'Wow! That sounds cool!'" he remembered.
His father taught him how to play, and Paul stepped up front as lead guitarist from the start.
"I taught him blues, because I like blues," Richard remembered. "When I saw the talent he had, I asked him if he'd like to pursue it, and he said yes, so we went all the way with it."
Now, when he hears his son play, Richard doesn't try to hide his pride.
"When I hear Paul play guitar, I get chills," he said.
Even though Paul is the lead singer and lead guitarist, he considers his father a partner.
Paul lives in Santa Rosa now, and Richard lives in Lake County, but they're still a team, traveling together to perform.
"I don't make any decisions without Dad," Paul said. "We stick together. He's my best friend."
Learn more about the Stewards' music at www.twiceasgood.org. You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at 521-5243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. See his ARTS blog at http://arts.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.