Hooked on Bluegrass

Salvatore Trafficante, Jr

So I guess you could say that I got hooked on this music on account of a business deal gone south. This guy, we’ll call him Leo, was into me for some pretty major dough and due to a serious problem he had with sayin’ ‘no’ to his lady friends, of which there was way more than any one man needed, he just couldn’t scrape up the green to settle with me. So in the end, I was forced to take a hold of the collateral the customer put up, which in Leo’s case was the Garden State Pawn shop at 76th and Ford on the west side. So what happens is I tell one of my guys to liquidate everything in the place, quick like so I can get my money out, and he does this, except for one item which, of all things is a mandolin, which my guy says is worth like a hundred and seventy-five large and ain’t nobody in his circle of acquaintances who's buyin’. I say, ‘no way’ but sure enough, I do some checkin’ and the damn thing, which they call a 1923 Gibson F5 'Lloyd Loar', is actually worth that much and maybe more. (I guess you could say old Leo he wasn’t up on his inventory; another dame problem, no doubt about that.)

So I says to myself, self, with this kind of mazuma on the line I’m gonna handle the fence myself and I start calling around and takin’, you know, meetings; I even take old Lloyd out to the West Coast on a little California vacation and show it to some of the big boys out there. Well, of course first thing everybody wants to do with the thing is hold it…and then play it…and then play it some more. So…and here’s the crazy thing…after a while, especially during my trip out west where one of the interested buyers took me to this thing called a ‘jam’ where a bunch of lugs stand in a circle plunkin’ on their mandolins and guitars and banjos and such, I actually started likin’ the music. Yeah, me, Salvatore Trafficante…who pretty much got his whole musical education from what was on the juke box at the Playground Lounge down on Atlantic Avenue, who is about as much of a down home guy as Lucky Luciano or Bugsy Segle, who’d just a soon whack an Irishman as listen to him play a jig…got hooked on bluegrass. No, I don’t play it, just listen. But on the chance that I do get around to takin’ a few lessons, I hung on to old Lloyd. Got him locked up in a safe place.

(posted 6/24/2012)

[Note: This is one of several “hooked” stories from creative CBA’ers who have imagined how an historical figure might have become engaged with bluegrass, if they had had that opportunity.]

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