posted 10 June 2003 06:10 PM
Ouch,I may be sorry for this,but I'm always in hot water over my looooooonnng posts,so
I will try to shorten this up by telling of my experience's with Roy Smeck.
My dad was a "vaudevillian" he raised myself
and my mom and sister with his show biz livelihood. Sure he struggled through those lean years of the late 1920's and throughout
the 1930's as well.
We had little to eat,but my dad was a trooper
and it was show business or bust. Many times
it was the latter. But we survived.
I was only a little boy when my mom took me to the Palace on Broadway to see my dad's vaudeville act. My dad was NOT a musician per say,but he was something more than that.
He was a Showman.
Vaudeville back then was the only enjoyment people had,there were no TV's there was movies and Vaudeville.
Life was simple back then,Brooklyn had the beloved Brooklyn Dodgers often time referred to as "Dem Bums" but that was a compassionate
expression among those who loved the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Then there was the New York Yankee's who appealed to the upper crust of New York,Dem Bums had no place in the hearts of those rich
politicians and bankers etc.
I chose to be one of "Dem Bums" and have been
a Dodger fan all of my life.
Again,,,life was simple then,but people were
kind and the world was not as it is today.
California was a million miles from New York back then. I was probably about 7 years old when I went to the Palace to see my dad and his group of people who looked the part of a
rural type family,,a skinny gal who played accordian and had two cymbals strapped to her legs and a short little character that played great fiddle,and then there was Elmer
who was a carbon copy of Mortimer Snerd,but
he was the real deal,he acted like Mortimer Snerd and was a double for Mortimer Snerd.
The show consisted of Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, A dance team of a fellow and a good looking gal,but many times the guy
looked better than the gal
Then came the acrobats,jugglers with the tight leotards and the excitement as they threw themselves through the air as the audience looked on as though it were the end of the world,,many were scared as they watched these acrobats walking the tight rope.
Then came a man whom I remember as though it were yesterday,,now keep in mind I was 6 years old at the time. I sat as he played his
banjo ringing out The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise,,then came the mandolin which was like nothing I have ever heard..again I was 6 years old. Then came a guitar that he
played on his lap,I looked on in amazement as he played almost every string instrument there was,. He billed himself as "The Wizard
Of The Strings".
The audience sat mystified as this man played
his lap style guitar to the tune of Bye Bye
Blues and Tiger Rag at break neck speed.
After the show which this man was won over by those who heard him, I was able to get backstage to meet him..I was bashful and scared,but he took his hand in mine and squeezed it and said,,young man, you have a wonderful dad and dont you forget that.
Sure I was proud, but too young to realize how much that would someday mean to me.
Years and Years later as I was in my teens,I was taking steel guitar lessons from a polynesian fellow uptown manhattan,his name was George Menen,a fine Hawiian style player
who taught me the basics.
I wanted to explore more than George Menen was able to offer me so far as playing technique..so I looked for someone else to help me acheive the goal I was after.
I heard that Roy Smeck who was living downtown was teaching steel as well as banjo
and ukelele,so I asked my dad if he would call Mr.Smeck and ask If I could take lessons from him.
My dad called Roy and Roy agreed to work with me on the steel.
When he played for me in his small apartment on the East side of New York City, I sat and listened as though it were back when I was 6 years old.his vibrato was very WIDE,his phrasing was very different,,what made him different was that he was ROY SMECK and he was proud of his achievments and he told me stories of his past and even made me a sandwich, I had a great time being with him.
He was to many a great player and to others
different,but the two things he was, was a wonderful human being and a great showman who knew how to capture an audience. And that he did many times over and over.
I can honestly say his use of the left hand was not what I wanted to sound like, but to be as kind an sincere as he was what is what
I wished I could be.
I took about 5 lessons from him and he said Jody,you dont need me,your dad can use you in his group. He didnt charge me a penny ever
So when I read what I read here,I wanted to tell you all of my knowing Roy Smeck as I did
and for that time of my life which was filled
with my love for the Brooklyn Dodgers and steel guitar, Roy Smeck helped make my life richer by knowing him as I did.
God Rest His Soul and in my eyes regardless
he will always reign as "The Wizard Of The Strings" I owe him this for what he did for me.
Thanks for listening..Im not as old as many of you think and maybe younger than you can imagine
Roy was the Wizard of being a down to earth good man and when he passed I was at the service's and I could hear that wide vibrato and see his big smile and I was only 6 years old again that day he passed.
Thanks for this opportunity. I know Roy would appreciate what I said about him..I owed him this.
There is a tape called "Old Vaudeville" and to my suprise I saw that tape on PBS a few years back and there before my very eyes was
my dad and his group,and following my dad was
Roy Smeck. That was on December 1 of 2000 and
December 1 0f 1986 was the day my dad passed
I hope they are together again, my dad thought he was the WIZARD OF THE STRINGS and for that innocent time of our lives he was just that and more to me.
Jody. Edited to add,,I am writing a book and most times I post a Copyright to my postings.
But this was my pleasure to share this with all of you so a Copyright is not in order here,this is a personal thing I am proud of.
And I hope this brought a smile to your face.
I was 6 years old one time,
[This message was edited by Jody Carver on 10 June 2003 at 06:18 PM.]