Here it is. This is it. There's nothing left to say. There may or may not be a part 3 because part 2 nearly killed me. I have filed a will and all my blogger friends will receive some very nice prizes.
Heres the truth: This story was already written and saved in draft form but it nearly put me to sleep as written so I thought ..................."Why not?"
When I was 15 my dad called me outside one summer day. (the names have been changed to protect me)
"Raise the trunk of the Volkswagen", he said.
I thought,( "You raise it, why do I have to do everything around here?")
I raised the trunk and saw the two most beautiful things I have ever seen. You have to understand I hadn't dated much yet. ( Give me a break).
Montana had bought his son a ten dollar garage sale guitar w/amplifier. Quickly I carried them both in. The first thing I noticed was the look of dismay on mom's face.
"Montana, what you done?"
"Just bought Joe a guitar, Fressie. He might get pretty salty on it one day. Why?"
"We should have talked about this, Montana."
Montana, being a man of few words was finished with this conversation. Although his eyebrows were still talking as he left the room.
Fressie points to this day as the last day her son Joe would ever read a book.
I , Joe, promptly went out and bought a BOOK called, "Mel Bay, Guitar Method #1" or something like that.
Fressie was not impressed. ( Fressie would later come to understand.) Mom would later become my #1 fan and encourager.
I began to practice my guitar feverishly. I would fall asleep with, talk to, caress, cajole, and basically eat, sleep and dream guitars for the next 4 years. Remember, I had not yet begun to date. ( Give me a break. ) All the while my Trombone playing was steadily improving.
Interestingly enough, (or not, according to mom) I began to like the rock group KISS. This was not a good thing for the Southern Baptistness of some of those around me.
"I'm not listening to the lyrics, I just like the music!" I discovered one Halloweeen that with the right make up my Donny Osmond look could be made over to look just like Paul Stanley. There is power in rebellion! After all, i HAD the hair! That's another story for another day.
One day during my junior year there was quite a lot of chatter in the bandroom. A famous guitar player was coming to town. He was born here and he was coming back home. Our first thought was, "If he's from here he can't be too famous..."
"Did you hear who's coming tomorrow?" "Who's that??
"Barney who?". I know what you're thinking. Do not go there!
The arrival of a local Tulsa television news crew would confirm it. Must be somebody big.
His name was Barney Kessel. Don't everyone jump with excitement now. Barney was a bad man. Barney dressed like a beatnik. In the disco crazed year of 1977, Barney WAS still a beatnik. Please don't get Barney confused with this guy, although I'm sure he was talented too.
In 1977, Barney Kessel made a return visit to his hometown.
In 1977 Barney Kessel made my ears come to life. I had seen and heard the guitar played before, but not like this. Barney's intelligent use of chords and rhythm and technique made the guitar sing a new song.
Barney could swing, man. No more 3 chord songs for me.
The guitar was made for more than that and this beatnik man with a guitar would inspire me on a life long journey of appreciation and listening and growing up musically and giving me a reason to be glad to be born in Barney Kessel's hometown.
I hope you get a chance to listen to a recording of Barney someday, but you may already have and didn't know it. Barney played with Oscar Peterson, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, Ricky Nelson and the list goes on.................................................................................