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Friends & Early Years

Posted by Banjo23055 on Sunday, January 7, 2007

January 7, 2007


This blog will make more sense if you read my Bio first.

I had been playing a year or two when Randolph invited me to go with him to Fredericksburg, VA. Randolph worked for VEPCO (now called Dominion VA Power) and some people he worked with were having a New Year’s Eve party. We went to the home of Horace & Dorothy Rutledge.


We brought our instruments of course, but I did not know anyone there. Some people were playing music when we arrived and I noticed a guy about my age playing banjo – a pretty good sized fellow. I really enjoyed listening to him. His name was Larry Jett.


By the time the evening was over, we seemed liked good friends. He enjoyed the same things I did – hunting, fishing, and bluegrass music. We both had dreams of being banjo superstars – by the way Larry, are we still working on that?


I found out before I left that Larry had recently joined a band called Larry Stephenson and the New Grass. None of other band members were there that night, but Larry invited me to come up and spend a weekend with him when they were playing.


A few months went by and I took him up on his offer. We had a blast and of course it was great to be around Larry Stephenson and the band. This was really one of the first times I had been to anything like this – and we had an interesting experience. Larry and the band were playing at the Beef Inn in Fredericksburg.


I will never forget that they were doing the song “I Wonder Where You Are Tonight”. Well, somebody in the audience (a female) found out that somebody else (a male) was in the audience with somebody else (a female) that they probably were not supposed to be with. That situation took center-stage for a few minutes until the management got those people out of there. I remember thinking, “Is this what happens when you play out in public?” Larry said nothing like that had ever happened before. I guess that was my baptism into public performance. That started a real relationship with Larry and me and the other folks in the band. 

Larry and I got to be good friends. We went to festivals together, he would come and stay with me a few days to hunt, play music with us, and I would go to Fredericksburg to visit with him.


On that first visit to Fredericksburg, Larry introduced me to Bran Dillard who had just opened Picker’s Supply in Fredericksburg. A couple of years later when Bran had his store up on Route 3, he gave me a job giving banjo lessons at the store in the summer. I stayed with Larry Monday – Wednesday while he and I both gave lessons and just had a good time. Many thanks to Gene and Jo Jett for those wonderful days


Larry is now playing with SonRise – they not only play good music, but they are a great testimony for Christ and the gospel. Keep it up you guys.


One final note as I close - another young person that I want to mention is Chip Evans. He was a young man in our community who had a Gibson 1961 Mastertone. It had the old Keith Style tuners that pushed the strings for those "tuner songs". That banjo really sounded good. Chip would have been an excellent banjo player, but he developed MS. He used to come where we were playing and he would sit and roll his fingers like he was playing. He died at a young age. It was a great pleasure knowing him.


Thanks to everyone for reading this blog. Perhaps it stirred up some fond memories from your youth. 

2 comments on “Friends & Early Years”

DandyRandy Says:
Saturday, April 21, 2007 @11:17:39 PM


Sound like you have a good bit of experience. There is a William Harvey Jett who plays guitar, from Arkansas but I believe he's in Kentucky now. He used to be the lead player in a major rock band of the 70s called Black Oak Arkansas, but became a believer and walked away from it all. I wonder if he may be related to your friend. BTW, my wife has relatives in VA. I think the town is Dewey, not sure. Anyway, thanks for the greeting. I better go practice some more.    DandyRandy


rogers5string Says:
Wednesday, April 23, 2008 @7:33:05 PM

I have a friend of mine here in Ky. that plays bass for Larry Stephenson... his name is Kyle Perkins...he has been with them for a few months now maybe a year. He' also a good banjo picker.


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