Author: Rhynes, J.D.

Terminal stage fright, and assorted other related thangs

Lookin' back at a career of 62 years in this business we call bluegrass, I guess the onliest, well, make that the onliest two times I got stage fright was the first time I played onstage at the California State Fair in 1948, and 42 years later at the Late Summer Festival in 1990. When I was a little bitty redneck I was fascinated by the fiddle, and I kept buggin' my parents to get me one to play. I absolutely loved to hear the music of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys, which was on EVERY radio station back in the 1940's when I was growin'up. Ya gotta remember that it wasn't till 1946 that Bill put together THE seminal Bluegrass Band of all time, and if you heard ONE Bluegrass record on the radio a month, you were lucky! Well, I bugged my folks fer a year er so, till my daddy got tired of hearin' it so he told my momma to find a music school and get me enrolled so I could learn to play the fiddle. In no time at all, my momma found the Alice Baker School of Music in Stockton, Calif. got me enrolled, and I was rollin' then baby! I found that if I heard a tune one time, I could play it by ear from then on. YES! Fast forward to the summer of 1948, and I was 10 years old and could play any country tune I heard on the radio. WELL, Alice Baker School of Music had a lot of political chooch back then, and they would put on a HUGE Show at the California State Fair every year to show off the progress of their students, and to garner new students for the school. Since I was one of about 2 er 3 students that loved COUNTRY Music,[out of about 150 students, ] I was chosen, to play a fiddle tune, accompained with one of the older boys playing rhythm Guitar. I was as nervovus as the proverbial cat on a TIn roof, before we started playing, but after we hit that first note, it was all business, and when we got through playin' our number, we got a standing ovation! Needless to say, I was hooked from then on!

Well, you might say, what has the stage fright of a 10 year old boy got to do with a 52 year old man that's been in the business fer 42 years at the time? Well folks let me enlighten you. Over the years it had been my pleasure to introduce a lot of Bluegrass and Country stars onstage, and it was jes a matter of doin' a show fer the audience, and a job I really enjoyed. I had introduced folks like Jim and Jesse, Mack Wiseman, Del McCoury, Vern and Ray, Rose Maddox, and Emmy Lou Harris, to name a few, BUT come that Saturday Nite show when I was to introduce Mr. Bill Monroe fer the first time in my life, why I came down with the "Golly Wobbles"! I was backstage reviewing my notes of Bill's musical life when I started shaking like a leaf in an Oklahoma hurricane! My knee's were shaking, I had a knot in my stomach and my throat was as tight as a fiddle string and I couldn't hardly talk. It was about 5 minutes before show time and I was on the verge of panic! I literally had to talk myself into calming down! Here I was, a seasoned veteran of playin music fer all of my life, an M.C. that had introduced literally hundreds of folks on stage fer most of my life and I couldn't talk? PANIC ATTACK! Well, I looked around fer some kind of help, when I realized that NO BODY knew what I was a'goin through, and they were jes watin fer me to say out loud like I always do; SHOW TIME! SO, I sez to my self; SELF! Lets do it! SHOW TIME FOLKS, stepped throught the curtain, and we were off and running with another great show featuring the father of Bluerass, Bill Monroe.

After the show, I got to introduce Bill to my parents, and Bill complimented my mom on the soup and cornbread she sent to his bus fer supper that evening. He said; Mrs. Rhynes, that was my favorite kind of supper you sent me this evening. FREE!

That folks was the mostest nervous evening of my life as an Emcee and musician. GOD, I'd love to be able to do it again!
Posted:  6/25/2010

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