You Can Have a Band Even if You Don't Have One

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 12:38 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas
Tondeleo: One thing I admire in people is confidence and boldness. I tend to be rather timid so I guess that is why I find myself captivated with people who are confident and don't worry about much of anything. That is part of my fascination with the rural Americans that I have gotten to know over the years. 

Most of them have grown up from the beginning with no advantages, poverty, having to make do with whatever they could. In school, they talk about being picked on because of being poor, but how they learnt to fight or to have skills that kept people from picking on them - or both - being able to fight and also developing skills. 

A lot of them have done jail or prison time not so much because they are criminals but because when they have an infraction of the law, they can't afford a solicitor, or attorney. They don't expect to be treated fairly and even going to jail seems to be something they take in stride. They have this attitude that nothing is easy anyway, but that also means that nothing is hard. 

I have gone with Doc and Marilyn, Doc and Rick or just Doc when there is a chance to play music, and the rest of the band can't come. Sometimes it is at the last minute that the rest of the band or part of the band can't come. I have never known them to cancel. They just grab their instruments, get into the truck and head for the gig. 

I ask, "Aren't you a bit worried? People are expecting a band and it is just you?" It NEVER seems to worry them! Not at all! Doc says that it won't be any problem because there will be other bands there, and musicians like to play, and he'll just ask some of them that play well to back him or them up. 

I ask if it doesn't worry him, and he says it doesn't. Marilyn tells me that I have to have more faith. 

Doc: Well, Tondy, it's like this. People want to hear you play. If you wait until all the situations are right, you'll never play. We grewed up playin garbage instruments and makin' do with whatever we could and playin' with whoever was around. You learn to play with anybody and they learn to play with you. It's no big deal.

Matter of fact, Chuck Berry ain't never had a band! He just would take his guitar and get on a bus or a plane and fly to where he was goin' and the people what booked him would have to get together some local folk to play and back him up. He'd run through the songs with 'em once or twice and then would have his show, shake their hands, collect his money and go back home to sleep in his own bed. 

I aint as good as Chuck, so it really aint no problem. People always step forward. If you do the right thing the right people will always show up and play with you.  
Marilyn: We got it so we can play just me and Doc, or Just Rick and Doc, just me, Rick and Doc, just Rick and Doc, just me, Doc, Rick and Jerry or any part of the band and we can give them a good show, can't we, Doc?

Doc: Yeah, it ain't an issue. Sometimes a whole band will back us up, if it is just one or two of us. Like we played over to a place in Waldorf an' everyone but Handsome Brian the Bishop Garner, our drummer could make it. We weren't gonna cancel 'cause of that. And we weren't playin' without a drummer.

So when we got there, we started askin' around, and Jerry found a drummer named Bradley who was playin' with another group. I think he turned out to be from Bowie, MD, up the road about an hour.

We talked to him a bit about how we sound and what kind of music we do, and when we got up, Bradley got up with us and played just like he'd been with us for years.

Marilyn: He was truly anointed and that is what makes the difference so it can sound like he had been with us forever. The Holy Ghost was in him and the Holy Ghost HAS been with us forever, and He knows all our songs and just played them through Bradley. 

Doc: That, and Bradley is a good drummer in the first place. We never seen him before and ain't seen him since. But if we're out somewhere and need a drummer and he is there, we'll ask him up to play again.

Tondeleo: But doesn't that make you at least a tad nervous? That would give me an ulcer!

Marilyn: NO, you got to have faith, Tondy, you got to have faith.

Doc: Marilyn's right. You gotta have faith, and then open your mouth and ask around. You'll find the people you need! 

Doc and Marilyn in Wyoming... well, Camden-Wyoming, Delaware

Wednesday, March 4, 2015 3:31 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: I rang up Doc to check on how he and Marilyn are doing. He was pretty excited because he said that he and Marilyn had gone to Wyoming over the weekend, and that they played there, and then played somewhere else, and he drove back to his bungalow in Maryland Saturday night.

I'm not an expert on the geography of the United States, but I do know that Wyoming is not a place that one can drive to from the east coast on Friday, then play at two venues, and drive back by Saturday night. I DO know that much.

When I questioned Doc, he insisted that they were in Wyoming, that it was a four hour drive from Southern Maryland, and that he did not need to be instructed by a Brit about "geometry." He said he had seen the signs saying Camden Wyoming and that signs don't lie.

He let me know that Wyoming is right over there by Eastern Shore and he had not ever been there before but would definitely be going back, and that he and Marilyn had some bookings lined up there.

Whilst we were talking, I Googled Camden, Wyoming discovered that it is NOT Camden, Wyoming, but is a town in Delaware, near to Eastern Shore, MD, called in fact, Camden - Wyoming. I looked on MapQuest and further discovered that it truly is about two and a half hours. 

Doc: Hey Tondy, last Saturday me and Marilyn played a bit over in Eastern Shore and also in Wyoming for a full day. I had never been to Wyoming before, and was hopin' to see some cowboys, but we didn't see any.  It just looked regular, like a place.

We went to a place called Band B Music and Sound. They was real nice and had a lot  of store bought guitars and such, and drums and new amps. I brought my dobro and my tacklebox guitar. Marilyn brought her voice and some harps.

The guys at B and B Music and Sound videoed a bit of us playing there as a music store demo. No mics. Just us belting out our typical “singing louder than a bus” vocals and an old 5 watt amp.

Tondeleo: Ummm, Doc, I just looked up B and B Music and Sound and they are not in Wyoming, they are in Delaware. Camden-Wyoming, Delaware. Near Eastern Shore, MD. I looked at a map and saw exactly where you were.

I can see that they are a big music store in Camden-Wyoming... Delaware.

Doc: That's what I said! America is a big country, and I can't keep up with all of it. I ain't said nothing about Delaware. But I did say something about B and B Music. They do promoting of lots of events and festivals over the Spring and in the Summer and in the Fall.

Tondeleo: Doc, I just went to their Face Book page and they have an 8 and a half minute video of you guys! 

Doc: Yeah, they videoed us makin' noise pollution for their store.I ain't knowed nothin' about no Face Book, though. That's a good thing, what they did for us.

I mean, we was calm, Tondy. Being in a store, we didn’t get to do our usual shenanigans. I actually sat down for the whole thing. Marilyn of course, bein' polite, stood. I played my famous Tackle Box Guitar which always gets attention – and makes people want to play it. A couple of their sales people and a manager played it and could not believe that it actually plays well, is well balanced and sounds like a “real” guitar. Hey, if it wasn’t easy to play, I sure wouldn’t be playing it.

Tondeleo: I'll post the link for their video, so people can watch it.

Doc: Thanks, Tondy! You the man!