50 Some Odd Years

There’s been a guitar – or two – in my life for a half a century.

On a weekend visit from college in the late sixties my big brother brought home the first guitar I had ever handled. He could tell I really liked it. A couple of years later he gave me that guitar!

These kinds of drawings are so weird. I started it with a left hand on a fretboard and no idea of how it would unfold or where it would go. It’s done now, waiting in my camera roll for me to insert it into this post; and now my heart is overflowing with emotional memories.

My brother was a central, nearly heroic figure for me throughout the first ten years of my life; actually, that hasn’t changed. Back then, by the time my periscope was up high enough for me to appreciate him as my brother, he was already making plans to go off to college; oh, and this devastated me. I remember an exchange we had one evening in the nearby church parking lot while shooting hoops. As he outlined some of the highlights of this plan, the football scholarship, the name and location of the university, and so on, I burst in tears and tried my best to put into words why this was all so unacceptable. Looking back, I knew he understood because he found a way to help me understand how I could manage without him between visits home and why it was the right move for him to make at that time in his life.

So when he gave me that guitar, he gave me a part of his heart that has been a part of my heart for fifty some odd years…and counting.

Made with Paper by Firth Three on an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil

Jorma Kaukonen: The Secret Is in the Thumb

When we lived in Athens, OH, we were right up the road from the Fur Peace Ranch, where Jorma Kaukonen and other extraordinary maestros take beginner-, intermediate-, advanced-, and master-guitar players and move them along to their next levels over the course of a few jam-packed days, breaking now and then to strap on the gourmet feed bag, in a down-home, country retreat setting. It’s much more than a guitar camp, check it out.

Ann got so tired of hearing me play the same old stuff that she secretly registered me for a weekend at the Ranch! That was back in the late 1990s.

There were folks from all over the country, mostly good, some great guitar players!

One thing Jorma said about finger picking that I’ll never forget, “The secret is in the thumb!”

How true! How true! Fortunately, I learned a few things that have made an enduring difference.

What brought back this memory? I saw a Facebook post that the short documentary, Fur Peace Ranch: It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This!, has been selected for a screening at the New Jersey Film Festival on Saturday, January 31, 2015! Check out the preview.



(photo credit: Barry Berenson) for side-by-side, freehand drawing in Procreate.

Click here for an accelerated (24 sec.) progress video of the iPad drawing.

Also, check out this piece on the Fur Peace Rance.