Another Brit Visits Doc and Marilyn - Part 4 - Guitar Deals

Thursday, January 22, 2015 3:26 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas
Tondeleo: One reason I like coming to America is the cheap prices compared to the USA. I can buy used cameras for about half of what we'd pay in the UK. Being used, there's no import duty to pay. Cameras, musical instruments and other things that can be flown back to UK can make a trip to America a very good deal.

My mate Cyril had this aspect of a visit to the states foremost in his mind in addition to the experience of visiting America and also being able to stay at Doc's place for free, and having no food expense. He is pretty adventurous when it comes to food, and likes organic. That helped him be prepared for eating deer, rabbit, squirrel and a lot of fish. Also, fresh raised veggies. 

But what got him most excited was being able to shop on Craigslist for prices on American guitars and equipment for well less than half the UK prices. 

Doc: Well, Tondy, your buddy Cyril's a happy camper now! He found a Les Paul, a real one, and got a good deal on it.

Tondeleo: I'm not sure what you're saying, Doc. I guess happy camper means he is glad to be sleeping outside... but I'm not sure what a Les Paul is - real or fake.

Doc: He ain't sleepin' outside. It just means he's happy. He ain't really campin'. That's just something to say. But he got a real Les Paul. that's a guitar. Made by Gibson.

Tondeleo: Are there "not real" Les Pauls? Imaginary ones?

Doc: YES, there's Les Paul's what ain't real! There's fake ones, there's copies, there's Epiphone ones, there's counterfeit ones made in China. All kinds of Les Pauls. But he got a real one. A real GIBSON Les Paul. Made in USA.

Tondeleo: OK... I hear you. Tell me about getting the real Les Paul. The Gibson one. Made in USA.

Doc: Last week Cyril was lookin' on the  'puter up to the Liberry on Craig's List of things for sale. He found a Les Paul on there, for sale in Arlington... over in Virginia. It was old, like ten years, but never been played. He had me call the guy first to ask him some questions.

Here's the story. The guy works for PBS makin' those Oldies Music Specials. He's a music history guy what used to work at the Smiths Onion [Smithsonian museum in Washington DC]. The PBS called him and gave him a job puttin' together those Oldies Music Specials. He was doin' one of those in Nashville and Gibson gave him some guitars to use as stage props. New Gibson guitars! As stage props, Tondy!

Tondeleo: Uhhh... that's unthinkable, Doc! Unconscionable!

Doc: Well, YEAH! Anyway, he was down there, doin' a country music special and Ricky Skaggs was there as a host or whatever the guy is what talks between the songs and 'splains them. Gibson gave this guy the Les Paul - this guy what doesn't even play guitar - and then Ricky Skaggs signed the case with a silver magic marker. So this guy over to Arlington was movin' down south somewhere and wasn't gonna take the guitar with him, so he was sellin' it. Aint never been played.

Me an' Cyril went over there, an' met the guy. He wanted $700 for it, which ain't bad. Cyril was all like "can I take that other bloke's name off the case?" I told him to deal with that later. I talked with the guy an' 'splained that Ricky Skaggs' name on that guitar case ain't mean nothin' to a 20 year old Brit who ain't never heard of Ricky Skaggs, so that ain't no sellin' point. Then I splained to him that Cyril's gonna have to pay $100 to take that guitar onto the plane to get it home. So if he charged Cyril $600 for it, plus the $100 Cyril would pay to get it home, that's still gonna be $700 which is what he wanted anyway...

Tondeleo: And that guy WENT for that?

Doc: Well.. YEAH! It only makes sense. $700 for a $700 guitar. It's just he wasn't gettin' all $700.  He got $600, but he knew Cyril was paying $700, so it was fair. Cyril got that guitar and was happy as a clam, Tondy! His smile started on the back of his head and went all the way 'round to the front of his head and back to the other side of the back of his head! Good old USA! Well, for good deals, anyway.

He brought it home and tuned it up and then we went out and he played it at a couple gigs already.It sounds good, plays good and some people have told him to keep Ricky Skaggs' name on it, 'cause it makes it more interestin'. They splained to him who Ricky Skaggs is. Plus Cyril called his Dad over in England who not only knew who Ricky Skaggs is, but is a Ricky Skaggs fan and was real proud of his son over gettin' that guitar with Ricky Skaggs' havin' signed the case on it. So anyway, there you go. I'm gonna hang up and get him to teach me a few things while he's still here.

Another Brit Visits Doc and Marilyn - Part 3 - Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Cyril is a guitar maestro...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 3:59 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas
Tondeleo: Before my friend Cyril came to the States, his dad rang me up to ask if I could get Doc to teach his son a few things on the guitar. He said that his Cyril needed to learn how to strum better and how to keep better rhythm. I told him I would pass the message on to Doc. Then, after Cyril had been at Doc's a few days Doc rang me up, shocked at Cyril's guitar playing. Naturally I recorded the call as I always do with Doc or Marilyn - with their permission from when I first knew them.

Doc: Hey Tondy! You said Cyril's old man wanted me to teach Cyril how to play guitar a bit while he is here! I cain't teach that boy ANYTHING...

Tondeleo: Why is that, Doc? Is he that thick? You don't think he can learn anything at all?

Doc: NO! He is so GOOD I cain't teach him anything! The other night I handed him a guitar and picked up one of mine, and I figured I'd find out what level of a player he was. As soon as I started playin' he started knockin' out lead licks like he's been playin' 20 years!

I played blues. I played country. I played Gospel. Whatever I played, he played lead to it like he'd played nothin' BUT that kind of music all his life! He did it all and he did it right!

Tondeleo: Well, are you going to teach him how to strum better and keep better rhythm? 

Doc: NO! That boy don't ever need to strum anything! I called my buddy Big Dave last night and told him about Cyril, so he came over and went through the same thing, but different kinds of songs. He did rock, hard rock, soft rock, oldies rock and probally some disco. Not only did Cyril play all of them well, but he had the right tone and little details that make each of the different types of music stand out. I went in and listened to them and it sounded like he'd been playin' all those songs for years and years.

Big Dave asked him how he knew all them songs, and Cyril said he didn't know ANY of them! He said Big Dave just picked some good songs to play!  I ain't never heard nobody could play like that all my life.

Then, on Saturday, I took him to a country music jam, down to St. Mary;s county. I splained to him who Hank Sr was and Marty Robbins, and Webb Pierce and them boys, so he'd know somethin'. Sure 'nuff, when we got there, he started playin' and them old boys down there started askin' if he grew up playin' old school country music, or if his dad is a country music player. Cyril just said that he didn't grow up playin' it, that he really had just started! Yeh, he just started like an hour before!

That kid is a genius. We got bookin's comin' up with the Holy Ghost Band and I'm gonna bring him with us to play! If he would move to this country, someone would get that boy, take him to Nashville and put him in a box where all he had to do was play guitar every day! None of us has heard him hit a bad note yet. Not even one.

Tondeleo: I'll be sure and relay it to his dad that you are indeed working with him to help him play better...

Doc: Heck, I want HIM to indeed work with ME to help ME play better, Tondy! That boy is a musical genius! Gotta go now. I'm tryin' to get  him to give me a lesson! Marilyn made deer chili an' he's stuffin' himself with it. Plus he's on his fourth can of ginger ale.  I gotta catch him afore he passes out.

Another Brit Visits Doc and Marilyn - Part 2

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 3:38 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas
Tondeleo: As I mentioned in the last posting, my friend and fellow Brit, Cyril Baptist came to stay with Doc and Marilyn for a few weeks at the end of the Summer. Cyril and I have been mates for yonks, and he has always wanted to come to the States and meet the characters that I tell him about. I have been regaling him with my Doc and Marilyn stories for ages. This past Summer he got to fulfill a dream by coming to the States and actually staying with Doc and Marilyn. Actually more with Doc, because Marilyn is spending most of her time on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and is only in Southern Maryland when they are playing or just because she wants a visit. Or, because Doc guilts her into visiting. 

Here are some more of Doc's reflections on Cyril's visit. These are transcribed from my digital recording.

Tonedeleo: So, Doc, you and Marilyn bought some Camo based outfits and ball caps for Cyril for him to wear while he was here. Why exactly was that?

Doc: Well, Tondy, when you got a visitor you're kind of 'sponsible for they's well bein'. It wouldn't been right to have him hangin' out some of the places where we hang out dressed like an English office boy. People woulda picked on him for sure.

Tondeleo: Weren't you at all concerned that it could have hurt his feelings, making him wear clothes other than the ones he brought? I mean, it's a bit brash, you know. 

Doc: I ain't sure 'bout no brash. But I was more interested in it coulda hurt him more than in his feelin's if you know what I mean. They's guys what woulda first picked on him for how he talked - like a Brit, like you - and then for how he woulda 'sponded when they talked to him and then for how he dressed. You gotta do what you can to help someone.

Tondeleo: I do know that I had a hard time my first visit or two with some of your rural friends due to me being a bit more... umm... cultured than some of them. And I had to learn to just ignore it when they would tall me I talked girly. In fact YOU used to tell me you liked the girly way I talked, Doc! Remember that?

Doc: Sure I remember that! Guess why I said you talked girly, Tondy?  But no, really, they's people here what will pick on someone else whose 'merican 'cause of how they talk. 'Specially down south. They ain't like the way Yankees tall and will let you know it. Me an' Marilyn wanted to make sure Cyril had a good time while he was here.

Plus we ain't made him dress normal everywhere we took him. Like some of the churches we took him to play in he just wore his English clothes but with jeans and tennis shoes [plimsoles]. He just had to dress normal in the places when we took him out where people is more sensitive to how you look. You ain't wanna go somewhere dressed like you think you're better than them.

He got to understand it once he'd been here a while. But he wouldn't take even one stitch of them clothes back to your country when he went home! He said people would either laugh at him or beat him up for dressin' regular like we do here. Well, neither me or Marilyn or no one in the band wants to go to England if you get picked on for wearin' camo.

Tondeleo: I don't blame you, Doc. I mean, who would want to go to a country where you can't where your own clothes?

Doc: That's exactly what I'm talkin' about. I ain't goin'.

Another Brit Spends a Few Weeks with Doc and Marilyn - Part 1

12:14 AM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo:  This past Summer, my friend from South London, Cyril Baptist came to the States to spend a few weeks with Doc and Marilyn and their friends. Cyril is a great bloke and an incredible musician. I have never heard anyone as versatile nor as skilled as he is on the guitar. Plus he is funny, flexible and always up for an adventure. 

The morning after he arrived, he rang me up to let me know that Doc and Marilyn had bought him camo clothes to wear and a ballcap and that they said he would need to dress like that so no one would pick on him. He said it was humiliating, and asked me if he truly had to wear those clothes. I told him that actually,  yes, he'd be safer if he blended in than if he stood out. He was truly not pleased! I had Doc talk a bit, on a few occasions about Cyril's visit. Here is how it went:

Doc: Yeah, this was pretty crazy at first. That boy Cyril wrote me an' Marilyn an e-letter saying he was planning on coming in to Dallas and would just take a bus and a cab to our house, so we wouldn't have to worry about picking him up.

I e-wrote him back and tole him that Dallas is like more than 2,000 miles from Maryland, so he better not be coming in to Dallas. He changed his ticket to Dulles which is in VA but that he was still just gonna hop on a bus and then take a cab to us here. He don't know nothin' about America!

You ain't taken a bus to Western Charles County from Dulles or a cab. You would spend all day, get lost, get on the wrong bus and probally spend a couple hundred dollars after riding six or seven hours. That's why Americans got cars and trucks. It's quicker an' cheaper unless you live  in the city which we don't.

So on the day he is comin' here, he calls me an' says he will  be out front of Dulles and wearing a "petro" blue suit. What the heck is that? We drive the panel truck up there and circle round and round the front of the airport looking for an English kid in whatever a petro blue suit is. After about ten times and no kid, we pull into the pay parking lot and get out of the truck and go inside. Marilyn gets them to announce for Cyril Baptist from England to meet her at the desk.
In a few minutes this kid in a shiny blue suit that looks like a uptown sissified pimp comes walking up. We asked if he was Cyril and he said he was. Asked if he heard the 'nouncement and  he said no. He was just walkin' around lookin' at stuff!

We got his bags an' put him in the back of the truck. He had never been to America so he was looking out the window the whole time, commenting on how uncrowded everything was. When we started gettin' down into Charles County, he said it was just so "rural," whatever that is s'posed to mean.Marilyn kept tryin' to get him to say things 'cause she likes that English accent... he talks like YOU, Tondy! a true Brit. She'd ask him to say somethin', then he'd say it, and she'd giggle an' try to say it back to him in Brit talk, and he'd tell her she made a right mess of it. She'd say that she sounded just like him and he'd say it was rubbish and that she sounded like a Yank tryin' to sound like a Brit but failin'. I had to listen to that all the way back! I didn't mind really. It was pretty funny.

When we pulled up to our place there was some deer in the yard. He couldn't believe that. He started takin' pictures on his phone. He didn't know if he'd be able to sleep with the  deer in the yards, and the geese over in the pond makin' noise and the chickens in the yard walkin' around. We let him know that the chickens eat the ticks what falls off the deer, and keeps you from gettin' ticks. He wasn't so sure about that. 
We showed him his bed he'd be stayin' on and where everything was, and he said he needed to go to bed. 
Well, he slept all evenin' and all night and all mornin' til after lunch time! And he didn't know if he'd be able to sleep! 

When he woke up, me an' Marilyn showed him the clothes we bought for him, so he wouldn't have people pickin' on him. He ain't like them one bit! We 'splained to him what could happen if he went around here in those English city-boy clothes, so he rolled his eyes and went back into the room an' came out lookin' a little more like someone from 'round here. He did it, but he didn't like it. Said he looked like a "right American hobo." Marilyn told him he looked like an English guy wearin' camo and ain't no one gonna think he's an American hobo. After a couple hours he did at least manage to smile a bit. But you could tell he was 'barrassed.