Thursday, January 22, 2009

Nauseous Disaster

Walking into a gig a few nights ago, guitar in a gig bag, the buckle on the strap gave way and bag and guitar hit the sidewalk. The sharp crack of well-crafted, expensive wood on unforgiving, incredibly hard concrete was (literally) sickening. I almost threw up (don’t mean to be graphic, but I’m sure you understand). Ironically, until that night I had only trusted my guitars to hard shell cases, never gig bags. After all, gig bags are, well...bags!

Opening the bag once I got inside, the damage was plain, and painful; a long crack across the face, another across the back, and the rattle of wood inside. (Recurrence of nausea.)

The gig went well, but the guitar needed tuning after every song. Playing for several classes of kindergarteners, singing silly songs and having them sing and shout and jump, got me in a better frame of mind. Until I got home. Then the nausea returned.

When my wife saw the damage she wanted to be sick as well. My son also felt like participating in the "broken guitar queasy stomach syndrome" but he was doing laundry and it's not smart to be nauseous while cleaning clothes, so we didn’t let him join in the nausea-fest.

(I didn’t tell our daughter, away at college, or she would have been nauseous as well and she didn’t have time to be nauseous and study too).

Next day I contacted a luthier. Great news! The damage was repairable, the cost reasonable, the sound would not be impaired, and I could have it back in a week or ten days. My nausea subsided, as did that of my wife and son.

This means I’ll be able to perform with my ‘good’ guitar (the injured one) Feb. 10 at a gig in Fort Payne, Alabama, with my friend Russell Gulley (great blues/roots artist who incidentally also got nauseous when he heard about the accident).

(Russell Gulley, left. His guitar has no cracks.)

I had also told my friend Dennis Gulley, Russell's brother, who runs a recording studio in Nashville (and is a great bass player who performed that feat as well as producing, engineering, and arranging the songs you hear on this blog). He, too, expressed feelings of queasiness when he heard about the injury, but he’s in Nashville and there’s so much music there folks have little time to feel sick.

Besides getting my guitar restored to its former glory, I’ve made a new friend, Marco Ferrara, The Luthier. I know where to take my guitars should they need repair. And while I like Marco – very personable, articulate, professional – any future encounters will be social, not business, because I have banished gig bags from my home, F-O-R-E-V-E-R.

You folks who use and love gig bags, please don’t write to tell me I’m overreacting. I wouldn’t use a gig bag if you paid me. Okay. If you paid me, maybe. Depends on what you’re paying. But I wouldn't put my best guitar in one, that's for sure!

(Dennis Gulley, right, with a lot of gray hair. I'm the other guy, with a little gray hair. Actually, very little gray hair. Note - at this time my guitar has no cracks.)

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