It was a good weekend. Friday Jane and I took off to Detroit lakes MN to WE Fest. Sister Gail joined us and we met associate Greg and his wife Pam who had our credentials and we spent the afternoon drinking Mikes Hard Lemonade in various flavors. Greg and I took the chance to enter a saloon style campsite and we were enthusiastically received since we had a 5 and a 6 string banjo along. The Steep Canyon Rangers were late in checking in and we were loosing hope that we might get to meet Steve Martin. We had a deal with WE Fest. If we provided a banjo with commemorative graphics of Steve Martin playing at their 30th anniversary show, we'd get VIP admission an ad in the program, and the chance to show Steve my banjo. As the afternoon dragged on we were loosing hope that there would be any interchange with Mr. Martin. He made it clear that he had no time for public meetings or to sign any more than a few things. I went to make room for more hard lemonade, and when I came back Jane had luckily snagged Graham Sharpe, The regular banjo player in the "Steeps" and was talking to him about his kids and stuff. Thanks to Jane, I was able to mention the fact that my 2 banjos were waiting in Steve's dressing room. He said he'd go get Steve and check them out. Right before the band went on stage, The sky turned black and a torrent of rain and lightning displays delayed the concert 1 1/2 hours or so. In the meantime, Steve and Graham were apparently tucked away comparing banjos. I got back from a trip to Mike's place to hear someone calling for the banjo maker, so I wandered up to find an enthused look on Graham's face. "Is it alright if I play this banjo in the show tonight?" He asked politely.
I said, " Gee I don't know, what if you slip on a rain puddle on stage?" He really wanted to hear it in the band context and so he did, I think after the first song he picked it up and didn't put it down until the show was over. As V.I.V.I.P.'s We took seats right on the stage for the show. Even Toby Keith's fireworks later that night couldn't compare to the sight of that banjo on that center stage for me. Graham also asked me to bring some banjos for Steve to check out on Sunday in Duluth. We went for a nightcap and drove to Perham MN to our Super 8. as we were about to pull into our hotel, the party lights came on behind us.
"Do you know why I pulled you over?"
"You failed to dim your brights upon entering town"
Oh, They are still on let me turn them off
"That's how I catch all my drunks, License Please"
It's in my banjo case, May I get out?
"Just tell me your name and address"
I gave him the info and he had me follow his flashlight with my eyes and said I didn't seem obviously impaired.
When He returned from checking my record, he said my license had been revoked for failing to appear for a traffic ticket. He was going to give me a ticket for driving with a suspended license. I said "It was obviously a clerical error because I went in and paid the fine in person at the downtown office" He decided to let me go as long as Jane drove the remaining 500 feet to the Motel.
The latest Nechville saga continues on Sunday after a long Saturday of driving home, Fishing with my grandson and in-laws, and building banjos for Steve Martin into the wee hours. We took Kevin and Nancy our good friends and neightbors and had a fine day in Duluth. We got giant margaritas and Mexican food in Canal park, and walked the beaches, We met other friends at the concert and got settled for the next Steve and the Steeps show. I had several banjos in the car, waiting for the call to come running with the banjos. Graham called right before they went on stage and asked me to hang around after the show, I guessed that would be OK, since it was not too late yet. The show was great, The weather fantastic, and as soon as we stopped clapping from their encore, my phone rang and Graham said, "Steve wants you to come over to the hotel"
We met in the lobby and borrowed a conference room for privacy, Jane, Kevin, Nancy, Graham , Steve and me. I went into action. I do this instinctively now, and my onlookers commented on my seemingly calm and composed demeanor. I did my "screw your head off" banjo tricks, but stayed on the subject of sound, until it became obvious that the Nechville held it's own against the priceless piece that Steve brought in. I won't say any more on the comparison, but it was clear that the Nechville was more stable and easy to keep in tune. Steve was nice about signing my banjo head and giving us a picture with him. I just sold him his first Nechville, I tell you, this has to be one of the proudest and most meaningful experiences of his life. (sorry Steve, I stole your joke)