Blog P.S. (which in this case stands for pre-script)
Just had to tell you this:
So I’m teaching Cody, my 20-year-old guitar student, how to play Hank Jr’s song “Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound.” (A great song, by the way.) I’d sent him home last week and told him to listen to the song to see if he could figure out the chord changes himself. (They are not hard.) This week he comes back and says he couldn’t figure them out.
Me: Did you actually listen to the song?
Me: It’s just G, C, and D.
Cody: I know. I just don’t know where to put them in.
Bada-bing! I love that!
Now, back to my originally scheduled blog!
While I was driving down to Georgia this past weekend, I was channel surfing on the radio when I heard banjo music! I stayed right there where I was soon happy to hear Tony Trischka and his new road band Territory broadcasting live from radio station WNCW somewhere in Western North Carolina. (I was near Asheville.)
Tony is one of the finest people on the face of the earth and he came across so well on the radio: humble, self-deprecating, quick to credit others, funny with an outrageously dry wit, creative beyond belief, and also a great banjo player in many styles. (His Christmas CD, Glory Shone Around, is one of my favorites.) In short, he is many things I strive to be. Sometimes more successfully than others.
Aside: Case in point: Bob Van and I were working up a gospel song at his lesson last week. I think we were singing “Kneel At The Cross.” We were trying to decide exactly how we wanted to do something and Bob wanted to do it one way and I wanted to do it another. Bob says, “I guess we’ll do it my way because I’m singing the lead. After all, it’s all about me.” Pause. “I learned that from my teacher.” Ouch! And touché!
So back to Tony. He’s talking to the deejay about one of the songs on his new album, Territory. Tony says, “Yeah, Walt Whitman and I got together in Nashville and hammered this out.” And I get the sense that the deejay is not quite sure if Tony is kidding or not because he (the deejay) is a bit hesitant in his response. I know Tony is kidding because that’s his kind of humor. Then the deejay says, tentatively, “We’re not talking about the Walt Whitman, are we?”
And then Tony explains that he is talking about the Walt Whitman because he has taken Whitman’s poem about Abe Lincoln, O, Captain! My Captain!, and has made a song out of it. Which he and the band proceed to play. Very nice. Tony says he is working on a whole album of songs that reflect the Civil War era. I feel the urge to tell Tony that Down Here, when I was in grammar and high school, and we had to write essays for the United Daughters of the Confederacy, we were not allowed to refer the Great Conflict as the Civil War. We were required to call it The War Between The States. That was a very big deal. (I’m not making this up.)
Toward the end of the interview, the deejay asks Tony to tell the folks how they can find him and his music online. Tony goes into this whole explanation about how hard it is to spell his last name. He said that once when Tony Trischka and Skyline were playing a gig he was billed as Tony Krishna and Skylab! Too funny! But I did remember the time I wrote a lot about Tony in my Banjo Newsletter column and misspelled his name every time. I felt so embarrassed when it came out. I called Tony immediately to apologize. He was so gracious and such a gentleman about it. He said it was no big deal. I felt much better. What a guy. You can actually read up on Tony at www.tonytrischka.com. I know how to spell his name now!
I’d like to close by saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Ralph Stanley, my sister Argen Hicks, and Pete Wernick! Quite an impressive lineup for February 25th!