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Luke When you first made music? (77* d) RE: When you first made music? 11 Dec 00


I grew up in a family of four boys. We are quite widespread in ages my closest sib is 7 years older than I the next 7 years and the next 3. As I was growing up my brothers and my dad had a barbershop quartet. I remember them setting my older brother up on a stool so he would be the same height as they. There were no real bass singers in the family but that was ok cuz they had Jimmie Lucas boy soprano and could pitch evrything way up there. The sound of that group was beyond music. In mymind it was and still remains what singing should be. There was such love and care taken in all the arrangments they made. Sunday afternoons were just made for singing away. They were very heady arrangments made slowly and totally by rote.

As I watched them and listened I learned all the parts but mostly I learned Jimmie's cuz I figured it my birthright comin at me so I better be ready when it was my turn. My bros also had quartets of there own. Even Jim had one as he grew into a teen. There were some sundays when there was a differant qurtet in 3 differant parts of the house. I would just move around and check out the differances between them all. It was then I started hearing how much differance is created by saying a vowel one way or the other. The purest chords rang from the purest vowels. And the purest vowels were sung by the fella's with the most open hearts willing to give themselves totally to the song and the music.

Anyway, I never got the chance to be in the fam quartet. Dad got busy with biz, my oldest bro got hitched and Jim went to college. I was left to my own devices.

Jim came home from college with a banjo one day and a bunch of Kingston trio records and some neat lookin' books called Sing Out Magazine. I was 11.

Man the sound of that banjo. I wanted it bad. I went to the libarary and got every eddie peabody record they had. Jim taught me 3 chords and told me I could play every song in the world with them. Hey at 11 who you gonna believe if not your bro.

Trouble was, I couldn't play his banjo unless he was around. Not good. The Cornet I was playing in band just wasn't any fun when compared to the BANJO.

One day while babysitting for my oldest brothers kids I found a plastic baritone uke called a T.V. Pal. That was my axe. Jim showed me to tune it like the four strings of a banjo and I also learned uke chords so I was on my way. Soon after Jim figures out that the tenor najo we'd been playing was not what was gttin' all the notes on the Pete Seeger records so we tried our hand at converting it to a 5 string. Pretty much of a botch job but hey, it played.

Then it was Pete Seeger's How to Play the 5 String Banjo for us and we started off at the same time. I however had way more time to devote to it since he was a college student and I was just a lad.

That summer he went to work in New Hampshire at a YMCA camp. There was a man working there who could flat play the thing and Jim was so bown away that he got me a job the next year so I could get close to him myself. That was the first time I was in the same room with someone really playing. I cannot decribe in simple noun and verb how totally gob smaked I was. I was 12 and hooked.

The money from the summer earned me my own first banjo, it was a Kay. I went back home and started me a folk group. Since then I have really done nothing but play and make music.

Nothing as pure tho as the sounds of little Jimmie boy soprano and the family quartet. It is only what I can do.

Luke


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