Sunday, March 11, 2012

Daddy's Fiddle: A Guest Post

Today's post is a note I received from Sher Rushing. I wrote about her granddaughter Maelee last summer after hearing her play at the Big Stone Gap Celtic Festival. To hear a nine-year-old play with that kind of confidence was such a surprise, but this is no ordinary nine-year-old. Read on: 

 Howdy Susanna!

We, my husband John Rushing and I, are FB friends with you! John has actually
got to meet you!; I've not yet had that privilege!

Anyway, you had included a short write up about "a young fiddler" (our granddaughter, Maelee), in one of your articles about Big Stone Gap, VA several months ago, along with a great pic! Thank you so very much for that!! We will treasure it always!

I wanted to send you a story I wrote about my dad and his's self-explanatory. 


Daddy's Fiddle

One day in the early 1970's, while dad was still able to work, a co-worker, Bill Leinenweaver, came in to Kroger with an old beat up fiddle he'd found while cleaning out his grandfather's attic. No strings, no bridge, and the case it was in was literally beat to pieces. Daddy didn't play the fiddle, nor any other musical instrument, but he sure did love bluegrass and old-time music! He thought the fiddle was "purty", and asked Bill what he was gonna do with it. 

Bill said, "Well, Rob, I don't need it, thought I might sell it, that's why I brought it in". 

Daddy replied "Well, Bill, whatcha askin' for it?" and Bill replied, "I figured ten dollars would be a fair enough price". 

Daddy dug his wallet out, had a five and two ones; checked his pockets for change, and came up with fifty cents. 

"Bill, I got seven fifty here; can I pay you the rest later?" And Bill said "Sold!".

A few days later, daddy took the fiddle to Treble Clef on Main Street in Batesville, Arkansas. Lou DeSio ran that shop, and still does as far as I know. Anyway, he had Lou put on a bridge, restring it, and tune it up. He also bought a hard shell case for it, and got a bow and some rosin: just in case anyone ever wanted to play it.

No one in our family ever did take an interest at the time, although a couple of great local fiddler's that picked at our house on a couple of occasions did: Tim Crouch and Scotty Branscum. They said it was a fine fiddle, and it was truly amazing the sounds they each got out of it! I remember daddy being so proud that his fiddle was being played, and he even offered to let them take it and play it! Both refused, afraid "someone might steal it", or "something might happen to it". I think they were both being very polite, although they really did seem to like the way it sounded.

Daddy left us in 1997. He never did hear that fiddle being played by any family member. He did leave it in my care, just in case "you or one of the grandkids decide you want to play". I've kept it all these years.

This past Saturday night, about 38 years after he bought it, daddy's fiddle was played on stage. It sounded wonderful! It had a mic and amp system! It had my husband backing up the fiddler playing it! It had a crowd to listen, along with judges! It had a 9 year old fiddler producing amazing sounds from it! And that 9 year old fiddler was his great-granddaughter, Jentry Maelee Taylor!

And at the 2012 East Tennessee Young Musician's Bluegrass Contest in Rogersville, TN, Maelee took first place in the Junior Fiddle Division {ages 8-12} contest...with the $7.50 fiddle.

We all could feel daddy's smiles from Heaven!

27 February, 2012
That's the story Sher Rushing sent me, and one I am so happy to share with all of you. Thank you, Sher!

I think we've just heard the beginnings of this young fiddler's journey. Congratulations, Maelee, and may you continue to find new songs on your grandpa's fiddle.


John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Lovely story, Sue. And a lovely looking fiddle too. I'd love to hear the music it makes. Keep practising, Maelee, and when your famous I'll hear you on the radio.

Nance said...

it is a beautiful fiddle and a beautiful story. Will look forward to seeing Maelee in the future. I'm pretty sure that fiddle was a bargain at $7.50! (my grampa also called his instrument a fiddle . . . and not a violin. Is there a difference?)

Nance said...

it is a beautiful fiddle and a beautiful story. Will look forward to seeing Maelee in the future. I'm pretty sure that fiddle was a bargain at $7.50! (my grampa also called his instrument a fiddle . . . and not a violin. Is there a difference?)

Mary said...

Beautiful fiddle, and even more beautiful fiddler!
My dad had his uncle's fiddle, which I played for a little while in grade school and junior high. When I had it restored in the '70's, the man told me it was "a decent student violin" and when he finished, it was lovely.
My sister had it restored again for my great-niece Moriah to play, and the music goes on . . .

Sher Rushing said...

Thanks, all, for your lovely comments about Maelee and her great grandaddy's fiddle! I want to explain, as best I can, the difference between a violin and a fiddle. A violin has STRINGS. A fiddle, on the other hand, has STRANGS! Also, I've heard that it's ok to spill beer on a fiddle, but NOT on a violin. Glad I was able to clear that up GRIN!

Best to all,
Sher Rushing

Nance said...

Sher, I like your definitions . . . strings or "strangs" lol thanks for the laugh!

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