The following is written by Thomas Hamilton for Right Truth AND for Ox ...After Dark. Check it out.
It’s funny how life for me has come full circle. When I was a kid, I loved two things the most: Fishing with my dad, and playing and performing music.
Back as far as I can remember, my dad took me to the cabin on the river. I learned to cast and learned how to bass fish. We would spend endless hours on the lake trying to catch the big one. Frequently we would get up well before dawn and ease down the river in the darkness with a flashlight for guidance and accompanied only by a cool fog on our faces and the sounds from the creatures of the night.
After the sun was well up, we would make our way back to the cabin for breakfast. There is nothing like the smell of sausage or country ham wafting across the water early in the morning.
Those were great times and I did love them so.
In the 6th grade Mr. McNatt, the music teacher from the local high school came over and held “try outs” for the HS band. The deal was he would teach little shavers music at an early age and by the time they got to 9th grade (we didn’t have junior high) he would have musicians for his band.
My first instrument was the trombone. I learned all the music theory that I could but struggled with the instrument itself thinking that unlike a piano or a guitar it could only play one note at a time. How dull and boring I thought. Finally, one day, I got good enough that Mr. McNatt put me together in an ensemble with a couple of other trombones, trumpets, and assortment of woodwinds, and a tuba. Suddenly it all made sense. My trombone’s single notes sounded lovely (at least to me) when mixed with the other notes. Each instrument had its place and a unique sound.
As time progressed, I branched out. I also learned to play the baritone horn and a little on the tuba (I was obviously a bass clef person). I also learned a little piano by ear as well as guitar.
Some of my classmates had a makeshift rock and roll band. They were in need of a bass guitar player and invited me to give it a try. My first attempt was on a regular guitar with the top 2 strings removed, and I simply played the bass part on this. I actually fell right into this from some of my experience I had with the tuba and the regular guitar. In no time I was plinking away at bass lines as if I had been born with a bass in my hand.
Before too long I procured a real Silvertone bass guitar and amp from Sears and Roebuck. It worked a lot better for bass playing that the regular guitar and with 2 pickups it sort of resembled a Fender Jazz bass in size and shape. I thought this was pretty cool. Later on I acquired a Gibson EB0 bass guitar, which ran rings around the old Silvertone. This one was really cool because it looked just like the bass played by Jack Bruce of the band Cream.
So in my high school years I ended playing in several rock and roll bands as well as the high school band. Oh we played country music too. In a lot of places in the south you can’t find many gigs unless you do some country.
One day I told Mr. McNatt that we had plenty of trombones but had never used a bass guitar with the HS band and I suggested we try it. I got the sheet music from several of the tuba parts and with quite a bit of improvisation I worked up bass guitar parts for the high school band.
At football games, we would roll my amplifier up in the stands and I would play the bass. The crowd loved it and several other band directors from other schools inquired about it wanting bass players of their own.
What great times those were, but alas, time marches on and attitudes change.
As I became involved in high school activities and teenage issues I found less and less time available to go fishing with my dad. After high school I decided I wanted to leave home and go to work. I had no more time for the band so I sold my Gibson and my amplifier. I found out that the kid that bought my Gibson ran over it with his car and broke it all to pieces.
Then I met my princess that I picked up on the side of the road. I was now interested in college and career. Fishing and music became a thing of the past.
Although I did manage to fish with my dad a few times before he died in 1983, I never picked up a bass guitar again until last year.
In 1996 with my career stable, my daughter grown and gone, and plenty of money in the bank, my princess and I decided to move up here to the Tennessee River to an area not far from where my dad and I originally went fishing.
Now I have become a pretty much full time river rat again and can and do fish pretty much anytime I want. I would give anything to have my dad back for a fishing trip or two. I’m sure he would approve of our little cabin on the hill overlooking the river as well as my high tech bass boat (we didn’t have boats like this back in the late 60’s and early 70’s).
In February of 2006 I persuaded my princess to buy me a Gibson SG Reissue bass guitar and a small amp. I had gotten an MP3 player before this and was having fun listening to the bass parts of all the “old” songs. The old fires were starting to burn again.
I was disappointed that my fingers felt like those of the tin man when I first gripped the fret board. The music was in my head, and the fire was in my heart, but my fingers just wouldn’t cooperate. But my princess will tell you I am a persistent cuss. After a couple of months I had a pretty good set of calluses on my fingers. Then one day it was like the floodgates opened and it all came rushing back.
I learned and relearned most of the old songs and last March some of the locals here got together for a jam session. We started a group and have started performing. What fun! There is just nothing like performing.
So my life has come full circle. I am back to the things I loved first, fishing and playing in the band. I kick myself for abandoning these things for so long. I tell young folks today not to become so consumed with career and success that you forsake the things you hold so dear.
So I’m back to my roots now and even better I have my princess in my life too. Life is good.
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Trackposted to Outside the Beltway, Adam's Blog, The World According to Carl, Shadowscope, The Pink Flamingo, Webloggin, Phastidio.net, The Amboy Times, CommonSenseAmerica, and Conservative Cat, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.