War Stories – On the Road with Stonewall Jackson

October 31, 2013

This is Bobbe Seymour with the newsletter. It’s Halloween tonight so be on the lookout for the little ones and drive with extra care.

I’ve gotten some emails telling me that most of the readers of my writing like war stories of when I was on the road. If there weren’t exciting things going on around me, I would create funny things on my own.

I’ve read a few of these emails asking about the time when I worked with Stonewall Jackson when I first came to Nashville. It was one of my early days most fun times. In case some of you newer players aren’t familiar with the name Stonewall Jackson, he was a big Grand Ole Opry star from the early 60s. He was a recording artist for Columbia Records and booked many live shows around the United States.

Stonewall has had many memorable country hits. One of his big hits was “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo”. “Don’t Be Angry” was another big hit and who could forget “Waterloo”? Stonewall has long been a touring road artist with many TV appearances and hit records to his credit.

One of the things that I loved most about the band was that it was just a four piece country group. Steel, lead, bass and drums. My fellow musicians were pretty good players. I replaced Ron Elliott in this group.

One of the first trips we made out of town was in Stonewall’s new bus, a 48 passenger Flexible. The professional driver that they had hired was a truck driver that had only driven semi tractors and trailers. As we were leaving town I noticed he was having a lot of trouble shifting gears.

I had never driven bus but I figured I could drive at least that good. We were playing in northern Wisconsin and the route took us through the middle of Chicago. I immediately went to sleep upon leaving Nashville, cringing every time the bus driver tried to change gears.

By the time we got to Chicago, it was the following morning. Morning traffic was starting to build up. Luckily the driver stood up after pulling off of the road and asked who else could drive the bus because he was tired. I immediately said, “I can.”

I slid in the driver’s seat, stepped on the clutch, easily put it in first gear, took off and had no trouble shifting the rest of the trip which was about four hours. Morning traffic in Chicago was bumper to bumper but moving fast and here I was the first time in my life driving a bus in the middle of it.

It was good training for me as a driver of one of these monstrosities. I would’ve driven a lot more but the bus driver was afraid I was going to get his job and I was not getting paid extra for it. This is a typical Nashville way of doing business. If you can do five jobs, you only get paid for one.

I still have some pictures somewhere of us working this show. I remember we dressed in typical black dress pants and white shirts. I believe Don Williams was also on the show. I remember being impressed with how quiet his band played, but how full and nice it was. The audience loved him tremendously. It was a good audience because they liked us too.

There was another group in the show but I can’t remember who it was. Probably somebody that didn’t use steel, like Elvis or somebody.

The guitar player who worked with us had been with Stonewall for two years and was a fine player. His name was Reggie Allie. Reggie played a Micro-Frets guitar. I was impressed that it had a roller nut. I was playing a Sho-Bud and I believe it was a Custom Baldwin model.

Anyway, these were good days and I would probably still be there if I hadn’t burned up Stonewall’s other bus which was a 4104 General Motors. I just couldn’t get it to go fast enough. It didn’t want to go over 88 mph.

News Flash: In case you hadn’t heard, Dolly Parton was in a car wreck last week in Nashville. She was riding as a passenger in a friend’s SUV. I don’t know what kind of shape she’s in but knowing Dolly, her shape is pretty good. I wish her a speedy recovery.

I would like to report that I have seen a lot of steel guitar with alternative rock bands on television lately. The late night shows like Jimmy Kimmel, David Letterman and Jay Leno are booking a lot of bands with steel guitar. All I can say is, the future looks good. I think we should continually remember those who are helping us, even though it may be from the sidelines.

Bobby Lee is one of those people that has become a legend in the steel guitar world. His steel guitar forum on the internet is priceless to many players. It’s given us a means of communication to bring the community closer together.

While I’m thinking about it, we need to buy some more previously owned guitars. We prefer late models of Sho-Bud, Fessenden, Derby, GFI, Emmons and any guitars that tune with nylon tuners. If you have such a guitar for sale, please give us a call. A check will be sent out upon delivery of the guitar to our store.

I thank Bob Hempker, a friend of many years and an alumni of the Loretta Lynn show for 23 years, for doing a wonderful job filling in for me while I was unable to do these newsletters. Bob is a great player and has many war stories of his own which he’d better not tell.

Don’t wait for the last minute to register for the workshop on November 30th. Secure your place now. www.steelguitar.net/workshop.html. Call 615 481-0144 and get on the roster.

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One Response to War Stories – On the Road with Stonewall Jackson

  1. don lanier says:

    I did a Sound Job for Stonewall about a year ago he wasnt doing too well, Its always sad to see the Legends at the end of a Lifelong career, he was in bad shape as he had taken a fall a few weeks before that, he sang well, and the band was a Pickup band out of Nashville. Ive had the pleasure of doing quite a few of these acts, and Ive always taken time to listen and let them tell the tales of the past, I respect all they went thru, the roads theyve been down, and the Dues theyve paid….It was a Honor even if he wasnt his best, he still IS Stonewall Jackson…

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