Author: Judd, Brooks

xpress Lane: Ten Items or less: Subbing, Queen, Recorders, CBA Board, J.D. Giants and Cubs, George T., Snow White Fender Bass, and Dan Bonds

Item 1: Our thoughts and prayers go out to Suzanne Dennison, Don, and family members. May God be with you through these difficult times.

Item 2: Last week I was a “roving” substitute teacher today at a school in Turlock. My job was to go into different rooms throughout the day allowing the teachers to leave so they could attend meetings concerning students who are “at risk”. Each teacher gives you a quick run down on what needs to be done and then you take over the classroom. This is fun because you are in each room for only about 40 minutes making the day pass quickly.

A fourth grade class I subbed was enjoying a 30 minute music class with their music teacher. He had the students take out their recorders and practice the scales. Then he had them play “We Are the Champions” by Queen. The children eyes lit up as they began playing the rock anthem and then they began swaying to the music. Their smiles elicited a yet bigger smile on my face. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. I tried to get the music instructor to play Old Rocky Top but after my request he put his hand on my forehead checking for a fever, chuckled and said,” Brooks, we can do Queen, but bluegrass?”

My last class for the day was a sixth grade class. The students were doing “rotation” where the sixth grade classes go to different teachers and each class is involved in a different activity. My class was playing chess. All my students had a partner save one young boy who had none. He came up to me and politely asked me if I would play a game of chess with him. I licked my chops as I saw a chance to earn some easy money. He beat me in six moves and gave me a wry smile as he pocketed my $5.00 lunch money.

Item 2: How come there are no bluegrass bands on the “America’s Got Talent Program”?

Item 3: Do you think we will ever see clogging/cloggers on Dancing with the Stars?

Item 4: CBA board members met in what was an unprecedented 12 hour marathon session a couple of weeks back. The sometimes contentious meeting focused on the issue of what was appropriate content material for the posting board. Recently there had been a rash of non bluegrass content posted on the board. Some of this content dealt with the inexplicable desire for CBA members to talk about baseball and post Giants and Cubs baseball scores.

J.D. Rhynes, not an avid Giants or Cubs fan, in a move that will go down in the annals of CBA history, filibustered against the motion for 6 hours, at times playing the bass fiddle, guitar, mandolin, fiddle and even brought out the spoons and kazoo in his determined effort to keep the posting board chaste. At 4 A.M. the CBA board voted 6 to 5 to allow sports items to be posted on the CBA website. (R U reading this Marcos?)

To show there were no hard feelings, J.D. promised that in the future he would personally post the box scores from all Cubs and Giants games on the CBA message board. You’re a class act J.D. You’ll be receiving your Giants and Cubs hat in the mail soon.

Item 5: In a related story, the Giants and the Cubs did not make the playoffs this year and sadly in all probability never will.

Item 6: I mentioned before in one of my earlier columns about my Auntie Frances who lived right down street. She was like a second mother to me. She had three sons, Steve, Frank, and George. George was two years younger than me and was a child prodigy. At a very early age George was taking piano, violin, and guitar lessons and mastering all of them. By the time he was in high school George could play anything after just hearing it once. He also had a knack for composing songs on the piano. (*As an adult he taught music at Mills College and composed Kristi Yamaguchi’s theme song she used for her skating routine in the Winter Olympics.)

In the summer of 1966 George would invite me over to his house to watch him practice on his electric guitar. He would sort through his pile of 45’s, choose one, put it on the turntable and played along to George Harrison, Keith Richards, etc. He did this effortlessly. What interested me was the instrument George wasn’t playing. In the corner of his room was a beautiful electric Fender bass. This was no ordinary bass. This was a masterpiece, a work of art, the Rodin of sculpture, the Mona Lisa of art. It was a whiter than white, snow white pristine in its perfection, a whiter shade of pale Fender bass. God it was just like the one Brian Wilson used. I had always loved the bass and dreamed that someday I might be able to actually play one.

I asked George how often he practiced the bass. He replied, “When I get bored I’ll play it a little.” I asked George to play something. George carefully picked the white beauty up, slung the beautiful brown wide strap over his head and began to play. George saw how interested I was so he began playing some blues, then some jazz, and finally some rock songs. “Enough of that” he said, and placed the Fender back into its resting place in the corner. I wondered to myself how George could just leave that beauty sitting by itself alone in that dusty old corner of his room.

I made it a habit to come over every day George was practicing. I just had to play that bass. Finally I got up enough nerve and asked George if he would teach me how to play the bass. He looked at me and said, “OOOOHH, Brooks wants to play the bass!” Sarcasm was a trait both George and I shared and maybe that is why we got along so well. It didn’t bother me. George had the talent and I had the desire.

George chose a 45 from his pile of records, “Hey Little Girl” by the Syndicate of Sound.(You Tube it if you wish) It was a harmless 4 chord ditty that had a very simplistic bass run. George started the record, gently picked up the bass and draped it over my shoulders. I was in Heaven. I couldn’t stop grinning. I was on top of the world. George began to push my fingers down on the neck of the bass and show me what I needed to do. After playing the bass with the record about 38 times my fingers became numb. I sucked it up and finally I was able to play along with the record without making a mistake. I looked at George for some comment. He said, “Brooks you were really cooking!” I knew George was joshing me but I didn’t care. He had taught me a song and I was able to realize my dream; playing an electric Fender bass. Nothing was better than that. Absolutely nothing.

Item 7: Twenty seven years later I began playing the stand up bass in several bluegrass/old timey/Irish bands. I have had the great fortune of playing alongside many brilliant and gifted musicians. Playing bluegrass music has forever changed my life. I was thrilled when the first group I was in, “The Heartland String Band” recorded their first tape. I won’t forget the first time Uncle John played cuts from it on his radio show on KUOP.

Item 8: I won’t forget when Dan Bonds, a local bluegrass/country music legend asked me to play in his band, Yesterday’s Country Roads at the Hughson Nut Festival. We were being broadcast live over the radio that day and that was a first for me. Dan asked me to play several more time with his group and each time I played with him I realized what a gentleman and outstanding person he was. I am proud to say I formed a friendship with him and his lovely wife Polly that I will always cherish. You will never meet a nicer couple than Dan and Polly.

Item 9: Through all my bluegrass experiences I have never forgotten George, and I’ll never forget the day I learned to play “Hey Little Girl” by the Syndicate of Sound. More importantly I will always have a soft spot in my heart for that beautiful white Fender bass.

*To learn more about George Peter Tingley you can Google him. He has had quite an extensive career.

Posted:  10/6/2009

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