I’m writing this Sunday eve, the night after Christmas. I’ve been to four church services and a
half-dozen or so more church events in the last week or so. These days, a lot of the guitar playing I do
is in church. I guess that’s what stage
of life I’m in; I bet some of you out there are no different, right? I’ve come full circle. Church is where I started playing, in a land far, far away from my current
home in Nashville TN - in the frozen north; not far from Lake Wobegon, MN. It was just before Christmas, 30-some years
ago I received my first electric guitar and amp; and I owe it all to Gladys
I was 13 at the time and had just picked up the guitar. It was decided that I would accompany the Union State Line Lutheran Church Sunday school
choir at the annual Christmas pageant.
As I practiced with the choir on my little catalog-ordered $19 acoustic
guitar, folks kept saying they couldn’t hear the guitar well enough. I took that opportunity to suggest to my dad
that if I had an ELECTRIC guitar, that problem would be cured. He said no way, not in church, for sure! But then an angel of the lord appeared; well,
actually it was church organist Gladys Whiskus, and she uttered these golden
words: "actually, an electric guitar WOULD sound very nice". Within a day or so I was walking out of Estherville
Music with my new ax and amp. Gladys,
you will always be a saint to me! By the
way folks, if you’ve ever seen Ms. Clara on The Andy Griffith Show, then you know
exactly what Gladys looked and acted like.
The picture above is of me with that first guitar and amp, bought from one
of those little mom & pop music stores that used to be in every little
town. (check out my home-made "extension
cabinets", only one of them actually had a speaker in it!) The guitar was a classic 60’s no-name thing,
but the amp was pure magic ... a Brown Fender Deluxe! The sound that came out of that thing was
truly awe inspiring, seriously, everybody said so; and those Norwegian farmers
really know their guitar tone! All
kidding aside, that was one sweet little amp, sure wish I still had it. That amp started a love affair for me that
only burns brighter as the years go by.
Man, I love vintage Fender amps.
Last night, as we ended a candlelight service singing Silent Night, all
I could think about was that first electric guitar and that Fender Deluxe. And I sent a little prayer up to Gladys.