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I recently wrote a post
on the APM acoustic forum about the inspirational tale of someone I thought
defined the essence of a true player. Someone who inspired me and reminded
me to keep my feet
grounded in the true source of blues and any kind of folk music. I was
broken hearted to hear he was not playing because his resonator guitar had
fallen on the porch and broken the head off. It was hanging my a few strings
and splinters of wood. I called local luthier Ralph Luttrell who has been an
authorized repair facility for professional grade guitars for decades. He
said with some special tools and a little luck he can fix the neck and
restore the guitar to it's former glory. So I gave David my old Stella
guitar to keep him going and give him the reassurance I would be back with
his. He was smiling and playing again as I left their property today. You
can see the photos of the breakage and I will also be adding more after the
repairs. I will try to document the actual repair process.
LATEST UPDATE FIXED SEE PHOTOS
Posted 22-May-2006 by LittleBrother on APM Acoustic Guitar Discussion
Subject: Is David a real player?, You tell me...
I'm always interested in hearing what people are thinking when learning to play at the beginner and intermediate levels. We tend sometimes to be hard on ourselves and go through some ups and downs. Once in the blue moon someone reminds us why we play and why music is so important. This is a short story about people that inspire me to play and prove that being a player doesn't always fall into the normal mold.
We go out to Cora Maes place in the country to practice blues sometimes. Just seems more relaxing out there with no sounds from highways and other stuff. We sit around in an area where the dirt is packed down hard as concrete and shade trees cover the whole house and yard. Chickens chase each other right through our chairs and cases from time to time and the little kids stand around at the gate listening and playing sticks and other things making rhythm to the music. David is one of Cora Mae's sons and takes care of the property. He lives in a tiny camper next to the house under the shade and since his mother Cora Mae had a stroke last year she's usually situated in the house by the window. She has a little string coming out the window she pulls to ring a bell when she needs something and she can hear a fly land on a cow at a hundred yards and the old historical graveyard covers the whole side of the property. She thinks Muddy Waters is rock and roll so we have to walk out to the property line to play some songs so she cant hear 'em. All the sons treat her like a queen. Yes maam, no maam, yes maam. Most of the material we play was written by her, her father, grandmother and extended family and friends. She's also danced and performed all those numbers her whole life and she corrects us when we get a word wrong. Many of you met her when she sang at last years LB jam. She grew up traveling around to all the acoustic blues gigs with her father Curley Weaver and partner Blind Willie McTell in the 1930/40s. Okay, okay back to the main story about David her son and player.
David doesn't know the first thing about music theory or even what you call the various components on a guitar, nut, saddle. When I come over he gets me to tune my guitar and his to Open G. That way I can play along with almost anything he comes up with. He's really good with his right hand and has a ton of soul but only uses a slide and a few fingers on the fretboard. It's evident from watching that his heart and mind have total freedom when he plays and sings. It's like watching a wild gunman shooting from the hip but more often than you'd think he hit's on some cool targets by accident. Or he probably says the Lord helped him play it. He also has a wooden train whistle and between the two of us and the guitars we can get his "train blues" going and it's quite entertaining.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago on Cora Maes birthday party. Some other family friends came and we pulled out the guitars and started playing. Well, as you can guess here comes David with his Dobro amazingly still in tune and he starts tossing his "unique" style of rhythm and free form playing on top of our currently going songs. Sometimes even when we weren't in the same key. Now keep in mind that me, his brothers and anyone else playing don't even hear this racket. We are so used to David we just let him play and tune him out to some degree and accept it. And to be honest I think David thinks he's grammy material so why ruin his fantasy? Just about that time I look up at the puzzled faces of all the on lookers as they hear this clash of music and wonder why we are all so calm and acting like nothing is wrong. About that time one of the old fishin buddies yelled to David that he needs to take some lessons. I kinda flinched thinking that would hurt David's feelings but he just smiled and kept on playing. Then it got kinda funny and I was really enjoying the comedy of it all. Just when I thought David's playing was going to run off all the people and kill off some of the Chickens David blows my mind. Out of nowhere David whails up the neck with his trusty slide to frets #12-14 in open-G and rips into some perfect pitched slide stuff. He has no freakin earthly idea what he's doing in technical terms but his body was almost bent over and his face was squinting and he was putting every molecule of his whole being into the music. It sounded fantastic for about 10 seconds and the whole yard just busted out with laughter and cheering for him.
The point of my post is to remind people, and myself, what's most important as a player. When you go to church, open mic, bbq cookout, camping, acoustic jams you think of David and you strum, pick, smack that guitar and make you SOUL be heard. Stand up an be counted not by the number of notes but the meaning behind them.
Later on that afternoon about dark David started playing again and had about 10 people marching with him through the yard like a little musical parade. I thought I was in New Orleans for a minute. He told me that as long as he had God, that dobro and blues there was nothing that could get him down. His missing tooth smile and illuminated eyes saying "How could anything get me down?".