with The Slide Brothers
Last night The Blood Gypsies & I had the rare opportunity of opening for The Slide Brothers downtown at The Asheville Music Hall. It was one of the more nerve-wracking gigs I’ve played in a long time! Aubrey Ghent particularly has been one of my absolute favorite steel guitarists ever since I first heard him back in high school. Calvin Cooke and Chuck Campbell were there too of course, making it a clinic of Sacred Steel mastery…the true elders of black steel guitar; the Godfathers of the electric church. I didn’t quite know what to expect when I got there for soundcheck but quickly realized they were some of the kindest guys I’d ever meet. I deemed it necessary to go up to each of them individually before loading my amps in, shake their hands and tell them how much they’ve influenced my playing over the years. I told Aubrey in-particular…”Man! I wish I could’ve had breakfast with you the day you recorded ‘Just A Closer Walk With Thee!’ for Arhoolie records. Your vibrato and phrasing on that melody was one of the reasons I had to learn how to play lap steel. Your left hand is a force of nature! I am so happy you are in Asheville and I can’t tell you what a pleasure it is to play before you guys.” He just kinda stood there looking at me smiling and said “Weeell alllllright.” It was great hanging with them and making sure they felt like rockstars. By the time I got my rig dialed in, I hit a couple notes and Calvin Cooke came running out and said “Ah Man! What is that?! Let me hit a couple licks on that!!” I gave him my Supro and steel and he leaned into it for a minute…that was a great moment. His eyes got real big and said “I like this…man, you gotta sit-in with us tonight!!” I just tried to play it cool from then on. I said something like “Yea man, that would be cool with me,” while secretly doing cartwheels in mind. It was a great night! The Blood Gypsies played very well (you better believe we were well-rehearsed) and I had the best time joining The Slide Brothers on stage. When they invited me up, I was the 5th steel player on stage (and the only white guy too!) but I will always remember that feeling of Aubrey Ghent playing a solo and Calvin turning to me and saying “you’re next!” I hope I can pass the torch to a younger steel player one day like they did. Getting high fives from your heros is one of the greatest feelings you can experience.