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Saturday, January 07, 2006

My Musical Journey Pop-up Book (Part Duh)

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.................................................................................


Anonymous said...

i'm the first commentor, I"M THE FIRST

now, i'm going back to read it

Anonymous said...


this is too cool uncle Joe!! YOU ROCK

I like the way you changed the names to protect people. wow, you must have worked really hard on this one, and i must say, it's going to stay an original because i would never have the patience to do something this detailed,
let me be the first to say THANKYOU
and i will try to find some of his music, so that I can hear what he sounds like, since i've never heard of him.


uncle joe said...

I can FINALLY get a turn on the computer today!!

This is really clever and I hope this is the first of many to come. (Maybe some short ones?)

Good job Uncle Joe....

~Aunt Josefina

PrayerfulMom said...

Yes, this did live up to my expectations as it was described to me. Good Job!

Da Big Kahuna was impressed too.

Good work Grasshopper! ;o)

McSwain said...

What great fun! Loe the ears, and I used to hang out with your dad.

Anonymous said...

you stole a picture of my ex husband for the "eyebrow" picture. i didn't say you could use it. you're in big trouble mister, i have a copyright on his eyebrows. UNIBROW

just want to remind everyone, that as THE most faithful blogger, i WAS the first one to read this.

Seeker said...

Mel Bay Guitar Method....
hahahahahahaha! Did we ALL use that book?!

Anne said...

Hey Uncle J - have you heard Tony Rice play? I really enjoy the sound he has.

Ted said...

I broke my mouse clicking on all the pics very entertaining.

Jamie Dawn said...

Your choice of pics was funny! That is a LOT of work. No wonder Auntie Jo was anxious to get a turn on the computer.
My dad has played guitar nearly every day since I can remember. He is superb. My son has got his genes and is also superb. I will put up an audio post of my son's playing one of these days. He's SO good; he is Eddie Van Halen good. No lie.
I'm glad music has fed your soul. Even if it was KISS for a time - "I wanna rock & roll all night. And party every day!...."

steve said...

hey, Uncle Joe

Well, you don't know me from Adam, but you asked me for a Barney Kessel story. I almost didn't see that comment you snuck into my blog! How did you find me?

And, how in the world did you know I'd have A Barney Kessel story??

I'm happy to report that, somewhere around 1975, I saw Barney. He and Herb Ellis and Charlie Byrd were the Great Guitars, and I went to the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco to see them. They were performing that evening, but there was a guitar workshop advertised that afternoon. I went with a friend (and my guitar) and soaked up several hours worth of them. Ellis was good -- Byrd didn't impress me much -- but Kessel was a knockout. Everything he played was so fresh, so original, and so perfectly cool that I was sold. This guy was the real deal.

A few years later I saw Ellis and Joe Pass, playing as a duo, and they were excellent, but I missed the spontaneity that Kessel had. I felt like I could watch Ellis and Pass and grasp most of what they were doing (even if I couldn't play it) but Kessel's stuff was way beyond my grasp. He had somehow absorbed all that bebop stuff from the 40s and 50s and made it his own.

Even now, I can usually recognize his guitar playing on old cuts.

You are lucky to have seen the guy in person.

We are all diminished by his death. I was saddened to hear about it, and the stroke he suffered some time before it. He was a great player.

-steve the artguy