Sunday, June 16, 2013

Miss Penelope’s journey begins…

Well the day has come and gone.  Miss Penelope’s flight case was packed yesterday and she is on her way to her new home.

To recap the story…the catalyst for Greg’s visit to the USA was to acquire his “bucket list” vintage Kay bass.  He has waited nine months to fly 14 hours straight through from Sydney, Australia to Dallas, TX.  He then drove from Dallas to Memphis, to Nashville, to Roanoke, to Gettysburg where he has spent five days visiting the area with the Thursday night and Friday night jams being “a highlight of his trip!” 

Greg faced and still faces obstacles to get his vintage Kay bass safely home to Sydney.  The US government, the Lacey act, The CITES policies have made it difficult to purchase and ship all vintage instruments that contain rare woods, ivory or tortoise shell (hide your tortoise shell picks yawl!).  Greg will continue his journey by driving to Philadelphia tomorrow and have the Kay bass inspected by the USDA to authorize his FWS permit.  But he still will not be done with the USA red tape.  When he drives back to Dallas to fly home the Kay bass will need to be inspected by the TSA and then inspected again when he arrives home in Sydney before he can actually rest easy.  If all goes well he will be gigging on his newly acquired Kay bass the following week.
Greg playing my 1941 Epiphone B-5, Ruben with Lonnie in the background on banjo

All the musical mates.  David from Road Side Cafe and Fastest Grass Alive bands, Carroll lead guitar for Bluestone, Harold from the Harold Tipton Band and Greg from the Midnight Drifters band.  It was a small jam with quality musicians.  Bigger is not always better.

Our week’s adventure began when we met Greg “in person” for the very first time as he walked through the door at the Craley jam Thursday night.  After politely watching and listening he moved in closer.  I handed over my 1941 Epiphone B5 bass and he jammed the rest of the evening while I watched in sheer delight.  Greg has played music for 30 years and plays mostly swing, rockabilly and dance music.  He is an accomplished musician but does not have the opportunity to jam acoustically very often.  His Bluegrass jam experience was new territory for him that he thoroughly enjoyed.  David, Carroll and Harold our musical “mates” were warm and inviting while helping Greg along the way with unfamiliar songs and chord changes.  Harold (being in rare jovial and musical form that night) even threw a few friendly “Aussie jabs” to which Greg had snappy replies.  The best one was Harold said, in his best southern York County drawl…”Hey, I like your accent!”  Greg said “I like your accent too!”  It was all good fun and we appreciate their kindness shown towards our visitor.

Lonnie and I talked and decided on our ride home from the jam that it would be a BIG surprise if we took Greg’s Kay bass to the Gettysburg jam Friday night so he could play and hear HIS bass in the open bluegrass jam.  When he came walking through the door of the Gettysburg jam, the music was in full swing, he immediately broke into a huge smile instantly recognizing this was his Kay bass by the Brazilian Rosewood fingerboard, his Miss Penelope. 

This was the very first time he would see and play his new Kay bass, the bass he waited nine months to meet.  Greg sat for a few songs and listen and then I handed the bass over to him and said “she is all yours now…enjoy!”  He played his bass and soaked in every moment of the jam.  The Friday night jam was larger then usual with a birthday celebration and lots of happy listeners!  The evening made a special memory for us and for Greg.

The Gettysburg jam at the YWCA

Lonnie on the left with Greg finding his groove with Miss Penelope (they just met)

She sure is a pretty gal!

Greg on the left with our good musical mates Dave from the Carroll County Ramblers band and Denny from the Iron Ridge Bluegrass band

The jam regularly has folks stepping in for a song or two and then sitting down to socialize.  Holding this group together is Ed, the mate in the bright green shirt

Greg visited the workshop Saturday, we had a delightful afternoon chatting, sharing a few beers and opening the gifts he brought along from Australia.  He gave us an antique trinket that showed the country of Australia with the territories and a new silver coin that was minted in limited number in Australia.  The coin has the Koala bear on the front and the Queen of England on the back.  This is a really special gift for us as Lonnie has not had a new coin added to his collection since my Mother passed away eleven years ago.  She would always give Lonnie coins as gifts for the holidays.  It was really special to add a new coin to Lonnie’s collection after all these years.  It makes it extra special that it is from our new Australian friend and dated with 2013.  A special coin to commemorate Greg’s special visit.

As Greg looked over all the basses or “the herd” as I like to call them, I was struck by his keen interest in the fingerboards.  With him playing slap bass he has a good ear for the “percussive click” the different types of tone wood makes.  He likes to hear a sharp, treble click when he plays slap bass.  I can’t say I ever really paid attention to the sound made from the percussive slap on the fingerboard…but they did all sound different in his very capable hands.  Very interesting.

We spent Saturday evening with Greg talking about all types of things over dinner.  He enjoyed my Maryland crab cakes along with a bowl of local grown strawberries and ice cream.  We even talked about how different the coffee is here in America verse the pressed and dripped coffee in Australia.  By Greg’s description of coffee Lonnie would fit right in with his quad espresso habit!  

By far the highlight of Greg’s trip was the music he discovered in Memphis, Nashville, and our two little local bluegrass jams.  He mentioned several times how much he enjoyed our local bluegrass jams and meeting our musical “mates”.

We will wait with anticipation to hear when He and Miss Penelope have landed in Sydney and all is well.  I am confident we will stay in touch to hear more about his adventures with his new vintage bucket list Kay bass. 

It was an awesome visit.  A once in a life time experience and our absolute pleasure to know the world is full of great people that share the same passion for music and vintage instruments as we do.

As our friend Dave says…It’s all good!!!

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