Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Guitar Man

Lorna called this late this afternoon and asked how I was coming on painting the bedroom. Not good. Not good at all. Earlier I stopped by to see Clarence, the guitar guy, and give him a few bucks for a uke for my daughter. He cut the price in half because he was friend of my father. Thanks Clarence.
Clarence and Barb live in an old house filled with wonderful clutter. In the front room there is a piano where she gives lessons, music stands, and a couple of chairs and a sofa. Scattered over, under and behind the furniture are a big C.F.Martin guitar, a nice old Gibson banjo, a bunch of violins, and rack of bows, an old mandolin and six accordions. These are the instruments that Clarence teaches. My first reaction seeing such a sight is, "Boy is this going to be fun!". And of course it was.
We shook hands, exchanged cash and got down to the real business of the day - talking about long dead friends and relatives, and music - mostly music. Clarence's family are all in North Carolina, and that's where his musical heart still is. We talked, he played in little on the Martin, mostly folk songs he grew up with -"real" country music. Then he caressed it softly as he laid it down. Smiling he said, "Its just wonderful". Then for me, because I love it, he took the mandolin out of a terribly battered case. The mandolin was not much better, at least to look at. "It's a 1920 Regal, not as expensive as some of the other brands, but it plays as well as any." A big smile spreads across his face, "Somebody left it on my doorstep." When Clarence plays the mandolin it's not fast and "excited". It's soft and gentle, and he plays songs about the wildwood flower and my sweetheart long ago. He says his stiff old fingers won't play fast, but I think he just likes it slow. I know I do after hearing him play it. Anyway, it took me three hours to drop off the money.