Friday, September 23, 2005

Digging Out

The autumnal equinox is upon us. Just yesterday it was Memorial Day. From the first week in December until April 1st seemed like a lifetime. For some reason, the late summer and fall just meld into one chunk of activity. I teach my police rookie class legal block for 13 nights from 6-10 P.M. beginning late August through mid-September. Throw in Labor Day weekend entertaining friends, a week of court, teaching rookie school, doing a teaching gig 8 hours away in the mountains, then trackback for a wedding and visit with friends in the Piedmont, back home, riding out Ophelia, the hurricane that wouldn't leave, having to make up the missed rookie school classes by teaching four hours Friday night and eight hours Sunday afternoon and night, and getting ready for court the first week in October and here we are. Once I finish court, it will be the middle of October. Damn! Days getting shorter, time for afterwork fishing more scarce, college football games taking chunks out of my Saturdays, siding to replace and yard to cleanup-not enough time for everything. I want to make a trip to fish with Scott in S.C. but he has a big trial starting October 17. October 28 seven of us fly from the Carolinas to New Braunfels, Texas to see Reckless Kelly and November is on us.

In addition to building fishing rods, making wooden pens and winestoppers on the lathe, tying flies and blogging enough to keep the sitemeter running, I have been playing the guitar more and more. Our new abode is beautiful, but less guitar playing friendly than our old home. No basement to steal away to or huge recliner to lean my back against while sitting on the floor trying to memorize the tablature for flatpicked fiddle tunes. You just can't sit in a chair with armrests with a guitar-I've tried it. Another distraction from the music is the fishing. My old hometown was five hours from the coast and an hour and a half from any decent mountain streams-here I can leave work at 5:00 and have the boat in the water by 5:30 with a paralyzing choice of places to go depending on tide and wind. The guitar has gathered a lot of dust since moving here, but once you learn how to play, you never forget. Your fingers go automatically to the right places. Actually putting the thing down sometimes has its benefits-you can get seriously stuck in a rut playing the same stuff over and over and you usually pick the thing back up when you hear something original that you want to play and it pulls you free.

I picked back up playing in earnest around the first of May because we had booked
Dicky Scearce and Jack Ketner to play at my 50th birthday party and Dicky had invited me to play guitar on a couple of songs using Jack's guitar while Jack played fiddle. I'll confess to being a little prejudiced, but for my money, they're one of the finest and most talented acoustic duos I've ever seen or heard. They can generate more music from two instruments than any band I know-and I know my live music! If I'm lying, I'm dying but they play "The Sultan's of Swing" on acoustic guitars and it's better than the Dire Straits version. One of my favorite things is to see the heads turn and the eyes open in amazement when they crank that one up. Since the party they have become really good friends-Dicky's wife Susan is such a sweet person and is completely passionate about their music even though she's probably heard most of the songs hundreds of times. She passes out "shaker cans" (beer cans filled with beans and duct taped over the top) so folks can add a little homemade percussion and she hawks their great CD's like a master salesman. Jack's girlfriend, Jennifer is a sweetie also and has struck up a great friendship with my wife, Jane. We have a group of boardwalk buddies that come to see Dicky and Jack every time they're in town. Jack is a talented artist and can play anything with strings. Again, I know my stuff and I have never seen a more talented acoustic guitar player or fiddler-ever. He could go to Nashville and do studio work and never have a free moment. And he is a great guy and funny fellow to boot. Dicky plays remarkable rythym guitar and sings most of their lead vocals in a clear tenor voice that I would kill for. They have a chemistry and rapport on stage (and off) that makes them better than the sum of their collective parts. You also could not find two nicer, generous or more gracious people. Every time they play, they call me up to do three or four songs and also let my buddy Bobby Webb do some solo stuff. When Dicky does his solo stuff on Wednesday and Thursday nights several times during the summer, he has invited me to bring my guitar and play along for the whole set. It has been the greatest fun I've ever had-on the small stage at the Dockhouse on the Beaufort waterfront, looking out over Taylor's Creek and the yachts and sailboats and the wild ponies of Carrot Island, southwest breeze blowing off the water, playing guitar with my talented friend. I can't think of anything I'd rather do. Thanks to Dicky, Jack, Susan and Jennifer-ya'll are the best. And thanks most of all for rekindling my passion for playing guitar!


Anonymous RedNeck said...

Hell, I'll have to see if I can't get to the "Dockhouse" on my next trip down. Off at 5:00, and in the water at 5:30... man, you don't know how good that sounds.

10:30 AM  
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