In The Case

Once again I was invited to hear an old friend play a concert at the university of which he serves as, “Artist in Residence.” I love that title; sounds so cool, so artsy…special. And special he is! He plays an instrument that is big enough to be used as a battering ram, and as uncomfortable as a pair of pants two sizes too small. But he excels at it. He makes beautiful music poor from it’s over-sized neck and strings.

Over the years I have watched him and his friend, another freak…I say that with all affection, and amazement because of what they do; perform some incredible feats of mastery. Duke Ellington, jazz standards, Dizzie, Jaco, the Beatles, even country (?!) you name it and they have a revisionist version that will expand your universe of music appreciation.

Someone asked him about the instrument he played, and why. Why choose that particular one? What was so special about that specific piece of wood that made it work so well? He picked the instrument up and silently placed it directly in front of the microphone…silence…quiet…nothing. Then he said, “This instrument does not make music. The music is inside of us, and if we don’t play it…this beautiful piece of art will remain quiet.”

Think about it.

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2 Responses to In The Case

  1. Johnny Johnston says:

    All of my children are musicians and I constantly talk to them about Steve’s dedication, No obsession with getting it right. The last time I saw Steve it was surfing at Dunes and we were throwing jelly fish at one another. He is a true marvel and master. Thank you for the story Tim and the memories.
    Johnny

  2. timholt says:

    I used to pick Steve and John up when they were teenagers to go surfing. Steve was probably 12 or 13 at the time, when I first started giving them rides to OD pier, Hatteras, etc. Steve would have already been up practicing for a couple hours when I arrived at daybreak.

    A few years ago I heard Paul Reed Smith (maker of PRS guitars) mention Steve as a classic example of hard work. When I walked up to Paul and said, “That’s the truth. I know how how hard Steve worked.” Paul said, “That’s good to hear ’cause I made that up about Steve. I really didn’t know how hard he worked. I just imagined no one could be that good without an enormous amount of hard work, so I just used him as an example since I was in Myrtle Beach.” Funny. But true.

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