Under the Double Eagle
This is not my story, but I believe it comes from one of the Traum brothers. I can’t recall if it was Artie or Happy. If you are not familiar with them check out Homespun tapes at www.homespuntapes.com. They have some great home study material for traditional music, both by mail and via on-line lessons.
If you are like us in Harvey County, where as Mike Snyder would say, “City Hall is in the back of the Dairy Queen and duct tape passes for chrome,” access to the minds of world-class players is invaluable. The days when you had to dig it all out by your lonesome are over. Don’t wear out the grooves of your LPs trying to decipher licks; those old records are gonna be worth something some day. One day our music is gonna be the new hip thing all over again, so be prepared.
I read this story years ago and it is paraphrased from memory, so if I didn’t get it just right I apologize. Maybe Happy will correct me.
Years ago one of the Traum brothers was hitch-hiking in upstate New York. He toted a guitar in a beat up case. A farmer tooled by in a pick-up truck. He pulled to a halt, put the truck in reverse, and backed up. The dust settled to the ground, and he opened the door.
“Need a ride?”
“You play that guitar?”
“You play ‘Under the Double Eagle?'”
The farmer frowned. “Hell boy, you don’t play that thing!” He slammed the door shut and sped off.
Around here they feel like way about Doc Watson’s ‘Black Mountain Rag.’ You can’t fool anyone if you don’t know those tunes.
I like farmers. As with bluegrass musicians, I’ve had good luck with them over the years. I find they tell me the truth. One old farmer asked Lynn O’Carroll about the ‘Mandolin Case.’ She just shrugged her shoulders and said “I dunno.”
He said, “Well I know Dr. B real good. He knows something and he ain’t talking.”
He doesn’t need to worry. I am going to tell all in the book and it will be true fiction. As far as the facts….well, if you learn ‘Under the Double Eagle’ and ‘Black Mountain Rag’ and play ’em for me at Harvey Nursing Home in a few years, I might get to know you well enough to tell you that too.
Only problem is by then I’ll have a little more age on me, so I might have it all tangled up in my head. You know how it is. Sometimes old folks get to where they are sweet but you can’t count on their recollection of details. (Recall the Ronald Reagan Iran Contra defense)
Better go practice. When I run into one of those cagey old farmers I want to be ready.
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