IVAN AND ELINOR
It all started with me finally giving in to my inner Bass. I have been intrigued by the upright Bass and its use in Bluegrass, since first discovering Bluegrass while in high school.
July of 2010 was when I made the jump. I knew Saga Music carried uprights in the catalogue and my Rep. convinced me that getting two would save me on shipping from California.
O.k. so one will be for me and hopefully I can sell the other one at our music store.
At about the time I got the bass I ran into Bill Runkle, a well known York county banjo player. Bill played for Del McCoury back in the day.
Bill offered to help me with the bass. I was more than thankful to get help from a musician that has toured, recorded, and written the music I love.
After playing my imported Bass with Bill through the Winter I had the desire to get an older American instrument.
Bill of course jumped in and started asking around for me. That's when he found out Carroll Swam, another well known York county Bluegrass singer/guitar player, had a 1941 Kay for sale.
Not wanting to send me in the wrong direction Bill went and looked at the 41 before he told me. Once he liked what he saw I got the call "found a 41 Kay for you, better come look at it tomorrow". So off I went to look at the 41, I knew it needed work and had not been played in awhile.
Now if you know me you know I had to get this old Bass back up and playing So I bought it and immediately took it home and began the repair on our kitchen floor.
The old Kay looked like it had been threw a couple wars. One side had come unglued from the end block to the C bout. With the help of my husband Robert we figured out how to clamp it up for the gluing, which had to be done in steps.
After the gluing was complete I used an oil base stain to clean and try to blend a life time of nicks and scratches. I wanted the Bass to retain its hard earned character.
Finally came the day to string her up, what an exciting day to have this instrument play again.
The day I bought the 41 Carroll mentioned how nice it was that the bass was going to a "gal". It was owned by a "gal" that used it for bluegrass around the Baltimore/ D. C. area for years.
As I worked to repair the bass I started to think about its history and needed to know more. I gave Carroll a call to see if he could hook me up with the previous owner. He gave me "Elinor's" number and reassured me that she would be glad to hear from me.
So I called and said "Hi I am Judy and I got your old bass." She was pleased I called. What she knew about the bass's past was that her brother Caleb bought it in 1963 and she started to play in 1964.
This was the first of several calls to talk about the old days of bluegrass, the people we both know and her experiences playing.
Dave Robertson, a York Co. mandolin player and singer, found out I had the 41 and knew of Elinor . He began to call it "Elinor", so now Elinor sits on a stand in our living room. I only take her out on special occasions.
Well the bass story doesn't end here. I get a call from Bill one night, "I found you a bass". I already got a bass I am thinking, but what the heck "what did you find"? A 64 Kay Bill says.
His friend Ivan Sexton, a well known country/bluegrass singer and guitar player, had it for sale. One problem Ivan lives near Roanoke Va., but will be back in the area in September to play the Delaware Valley bluegrass festival. O.K. we'll try to see it then.
The festival is always held Labor Day weekend and so is the Blackhawk national antique motorcycle swap meet and show. Robert has been going to this show for the past 33 years and I had planned to make the trip with him to Davenport Iowa.
Bill offered to go look at the bass for me. I told him if you like it buy it. Well he bought it and I am so glad he did!
It has become my regular player. I had decided that I didn't want to drag Elinor all over because she had already lived a hard life.
The 64 gives me the sound and feel I was looking for and I thought it only fair that it should be given the name of its former owner.
So now I am bassed out, having two uprights in the house is enough.
Bill and I have been working with some other local players, doing gigs when they are available.
If you are in need of a traditional hard driving bluegrass band for any function give me a call 717-817-1979.