Steel Players’ Wives

This is Vic Lawson. We’ve had such a busy week around here so we thought we’d share some of the replies we got when we asked about steel guitar wife stories. We print them just the way we receive them. Hope you enjoy.

Hey Bob,

another great newsletter, thank you – it’s always inspiring to read about what other steelers are doing with their copedents. There’s nothing too unusual about mine – it’s the Emmons setup, and I have four knee levers, the E-F (RKL) being a favourite of mine for that Lloyd Green vibe – almost as indispensable as learning LG’s classic Third Pedal licks.

As for steel guitar wives, my wife Nicky is one of the most supportive people I know. She keeps my gig diary at hand and reminds me when I’m playing – because my short-term memory is pretty bad, thanks to a car accident when I was a kid. I don’t get any negative crap at home! She also loves hearing me practice my licks, and rather than being banished to the garage or the bedroom, I can set up in the lounge room and pick away for hours. The kids love it too. I guess I’m lucky!

Thanks again, Bob, for your input. It’s always good to read.

Jason Walker
Australia

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I am convinced musician wives are rare. I have been married 26 years, the living room is the studio, and there are guitars and banjos all about in easy reach and now my new pet, a GFI ultra live in harmony.

She has handled the late nights, occasional tours, offering nothing but encouragement when I get back. I consider myself a lucky person to have her understanding and appreciation of what we are up to.

Although a good folk guitar picker her self she not a fan of show biz and does not suffer fools. She does; however, have a great natural ear and loves playing informally with friends. She is also a barometer of quality music and people and when I am working on a project I look forward to her assessment. Practically a musical historian, I know I have done good if she says she likes it.

Oh, she likes the steel, for I was a banjo player when we met so she was able to live with that!

Thanks for this great news letter you all, it’s been a great reference for a steel newbie.

Bruce Mitchell,
Austin, Texas

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How about steel guitar husbands when the wife is the guitarist. My husband says I just keep him around so he can tote my equipment. Kay Whitesides

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Bob, Thank you so much for your letter today, I really enjoy others sharing the thoughts on this great instrument. Been playing longer than I would like to admit and still enjoy learning more everyday. I also teach students pedal steel and Dobro and they seem to enjoy my methods of teaching, mostly by ear and tabs………I play a Lloyd Green with 3 and 4 and am thinking about changing a couple of my knee levers and am wondering what you might have to offer. I play the Emmons set up and do have the E to F change and want to keep it and I do have the E’s lowered the 4 and 8 down a half step. So I have two pedals open to use that are not being used that much and wondering how Paul make some of his newer sounds with is knee levers. I have not had the time to call him and talk about those but will during the March Convention. I will most likely let Bud make the changes for me if he is still up to it?

I use strings 5 and 6 a lot and 5 and 8 and 5 and 8 bumping the 10th string at the same time which gives me a fuller tone…..I also teach my students to do some of the same but I really try to keep the ABC pedals busy for them and let them move on to other pedals after learning the basics. So my question is for you, do you have any ideas on using or changing the two pedals that I rarely use is the inside left which raises the 7th string a 1/2 tone and my outside right lowers the 2 and 9 string a 1/2 step. As I said I don’t find very many songs to use those changes on . It would be much appreciated if you have any ideas on what I could do with the these two to pick up on Paul’s world?

You also ask about our wives and I am here to tell you that mine has never once shut the door or complained about my playing. I do try to keep the level down , not to vibrate the pictures off the wall but she has always supported my music and think is because playing most all of the good old stuff. We went out to see Ray Price again a couple of months ago and she always enjoys listening to him and Bush, and Willie and Merle and any of the older music. We are both is our 60’s but I do play some of the newer Jamie Johnson songs and Vince and all of that hits the list. So I do have one that really enjoys listening to me play and she has always put me up there with Emmons and Franklin and Reece and I have tried to tell her for years that she is missing a few marbles? I also like playing more of the slower songs of Hughey’s and try not to over play as I once did. Jeff taught me how to play the phrases and stay out of the vocals lines and play pretty and that’s what I teach my students……..Of course half of my students are in the 50’s range and up so they all seem to understand slow??????

I have been asked to add my name to the list of teachers in Texas and you may do so if you like. I do have room for a few more students and now that I have added Skype I can take on more. I would love to have more young guns to add to the list so that we can renew the steel players of the future and with you tube there seems to be more coming along playing this beautiful instrument.

Thank you for your input and keep these letter coming. They are as good as the steel magazines that we once had.

Sincerely, J Eddie Bates

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in 1968, i was dating my wife. i was playing guitar at the time. i paid off a bill then i told her, i can either buy a new car or buy a steel guitar & learn to play it. she said why don’t you buy the steel guitar, so i bought the guitar & married her & have been happy ever since. 44 years. i visited some friends in nashville a while back & sat in with them at the stage down town. the guys in the band asked me to move to nashville & work with them all the time. my wife said, “you can go to nashville & pick if you want to. but i’m through moving. it’s hard to blame her after all these years of playing & moving around the country. she’s a great musicians wife. she minds her own business & there’s never any drama. how great is that? i hereby nominate her as the world’s greatest non singing musician’s wife.

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Hi Bob,
My wife is very supportive. In 35 and a half years, she has only missed 3 gigs with me. She is my driver, roadie, string changer when they break, in other words she is my rock. If you’d like to see me in action, check out, ray ward and friendship band , on you tube.
Tony

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Bob,
The BEST kind of wife to have when you play steel is: one who plays Keyboards/Bass, sings, uses a harmonizer, has a music degree and tells you when you are not playing something right (wrong voicing, chord or whatever). This has been working for us for 51 years now. Yes, a TRUE KEEPER!
Barbara Jean Lang.
Thanks,
Neil Lang
Albert Lea MN

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I had two wives that said they can’t compete with my love of the steel guitar so they divorced me.

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Wife story…….I’ve been playing for about 3 years now, so I’m not a great player by any means of the word. But when I bought my first steel (sho-bud maverick) I’d work at it for a while. When I’d come out of the “music” room. She asked me one time if it was dead? I said “Is what dead?” She said the cat or dog or whatever poor creature was in there. I just laughed…… and purchased a Mullen. I could tell I was improving when she went back to reading and not using her headphones.

Earl

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Of course we can’t print them all but we had fun reading them. It seems music has both the power to hold a couple together as well as the power to break them up.

Vic Lawson

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One Response to Steel Players’ Wives

  1. Anna G. says:

    These are some amazing and beautiful letters! Thank you and all that contributed. Never let the music die!

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