When I First Heard Chet
Ron Thompson - local TV weather guy in Brandon, Manitoba.....(that's about 120 miles west of Winnipeg.)Alright......it's all coming together now. Back in the mid-fifties, when I was a kid, I used to watch a show on CBC Television called "Country Hoedown" This was broadcast "live" to the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) Network every Friday or Saturday night....I forget which, from Toronto. The show featured a band headed by a fiddler known as "King Ganam", and featured regulars such as Tommy Hunter, The Hames Sisters, Tommy Common, plus a guest Country act, mostly Canadian.....but the odd time, they would feature an act from the Grand Ole Opry....whoever was in Toronto at the time!!!!
One of those acts was the Louvin Brothers. On one telecast the Louvin Brothers performed two songs...."Daylight Savin' Time", and "Dogsled" . There was a fingerstyle guitarist backing them that absolutely blew me away!!!!! I HAVE to ask.....Paul....was that you?????
You talk about defining moments in your life. After seeing that ONE performance, I knew I had to learn to play like that. I went out and bought the record, and played that 78 over and over again, and tried to emulate the licks on that disc.
You must remember that at that time, Canada had ONE TV network, and Winnipeg, where I lived at the time, had only three radio stations.....none of which played country! I had heard of Chet Atkins by listening to WSM on Saturday nights and the Opry broadcast. (Believe it or not, you could get WSM at night in Winnipeg, if you held your tube-operated radio just right!!) Every time Chet played the Opry, or one of the stations used to spin a Chet tune, which was rare...it was a moment of pure gold.
The quest was on.....searching the record stores for Chet Atkins lp's and singles. I used to drive the clerks in the record stores NUTS, asking for some obscure single......but persistance paid off. I managed to get all of Chet's lps that he recorded, and have been buying them ever since.
Another defining moment was when I was working for a small Country radio station in Yorkton Saskatchewan. The local TV station was just down the street, and I did some part-time announcing for them. As "fill" between shows, they had some old telecines of Grand Old Opry Stars. One of them was Chet playing "Georgia Camp Meeting" on a Gretsch solid body. The film was black and white, grainy as all get out, but I used to thread that one piece up in the telecine room, and play it over and over again, watching the "Master" in action.
Life takes some funny twists, doesn't it????? Never met Paul, never met Chet....never been to a CAAS Convention.....but these two gents have inspired me to have a passion for my guitar that's as strong, if not stronger today as it was nearly half a century ago.
A very close friend of mine in the broadcasting industry, (who I met in Winnipeg at the start of my broadcasting career..) ended up as the Production Manager of WSM Radio for many years. His name is Tom Bryant, and still lives in Nashville, enjoying retirement. He has met both Chet and Paul, and has stated to me on MANY occasions that if everybody had a bit of Chet and Paul in them, the world would be a lot gentler place.