Daily grist. After losing my youngest son and my oldest daughter at ages 27 and 46 respectively who most important lesson in life I learned is this. Never sweat the small stuff. It is all small stuff. JDRhynes
I know you’re probably asking yourself, what kind of a title is that for a column? Just bear with me to the bitter end of this article and by then you will probably feel like having some baking soda and water for indigestion. This is a true story and I’m sure that a lot of you folks can identify with it.
My old picking buddy Vern Williams was one of my best friends in life. We were all at a jam session ( Vern’s band ) back in the early 70s, where I just can’t remember, when this young guitar picker asked Vern what he considered to be the most important advice he could give him to be successful in bluegrass music? Now one of Vern’s favorite sayings was this; to play good bluegrass you have to be hungry. So that is exactly what he told the young man, to play good bluegrass you have to be hungry. The young man assured Vern that he was hungry for the music and it was his consuming passion ! Vern replied, son I don’t mean THAT kind of hungry, you got to be hungry for some good Vittles, the kind that nourishes your body ! I will never forget the look of astonishment and non-understanding on that young man’s face. It was then that Vern said let me tell you a good story son that will make you understand what I’m talking about. I knew that the young man was probably expecting a deep philosophical dissertation from Vern, not the Arkansas philosophy on life that he was about to be enlightened with. Here’s what Vern told him.
Back in the mid-60s me and Ray were booked to play the Ash Grove in Southern California. We got into town about four hours before we were scheduled to play the gig. We had been on the road for about 40 hours and hadn’t had anything to eat due to our tight travel schedule, and we were all hungry as a mama wolf with a bunch of pups sucking on her. So we found a nice restaurant and went inside to eat, and once inside we discovered that their specialty was German food one of my very favorites. The special on the menu that day was baked knockwurst and potatoes in a cream sauce so that is what I ordered. When my meal came, there on the plate was three HUGE knockwurst, with a huge pile of potatoes slathered in cream sauce, with some sauerkraut, and steamed peas and carrots. It took me a while, but I cleaned up every morsel on that plate. When it came time to play music I was still full as a tick and could hardly breathe, and all I wanted to do was lay down and sleep. But the show must go on, and I felt like pure hell condensed into a big ball, which was my stomach. I would have gladly laid down and died on that stage that night ! After what I did to myself that night, I made a vow to myself that I would never go on stage again unless I was hungry as a wolf. So take my advice and always be hungry when you go play bluegrass music, but Vern assured the young man that he still liked baked knockwurst and potatoes. Vern turned to me and said knockwurst and taters is sure good for supper aint it.