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Early Muscian
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Early Muscian


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The very first recollection of music that I can muster is Uncles Claybourne and Norman Shelton.  Claybourne played a little D18 Martin guitar, and Norman plays a Gibson Mandolin type A.  I remember being very little and sitting at their feet while they played and sang.  Their singing was a lot like the Louvin Bros, but, of course, much better!

Never have I heard ANYONE that could outplay Norman on the mandolin.  I have listened to many, many players, and there are some extremely good players, but NONE could touch Norman.

To this day, I take my guitar over there every chance I get, to play with him and to listen to him play.  He makes sounds and does things with that mandolin I've never ever seen other than him.

I feel they were the impetus for my own interest in music.  Anytime either of them were around we were playing.

I got my first guitar at age 11 for Christmas while there in Rector, AR.  It cost 11 bucks, and I don't know how it was afforded.  But I remember studying the little book that came with it and learning to play Down In The Valley.  The first key I ever learned was G7, then D7.

Of course with Norm playing with Clayb, there was no way he would ever take the time to play with me until I got to the point where I could keep up.  Then he was always ready to play.

When Claybourne and Christine came out to California for a while they'd come over 'bout every night and play Rook.  Another Uncle, Doyne, was in the Marines at that time and would come up on the weekends from Camp Pendleton.  He was learning to play by that time, and he and Claybourne would switch off playing guitar and Rook.  Since I dido care too much for the game, I pretty much got to play guitar all the time.

Speed jump ahead about 15 years.  I am married at that time and have three children, Teresa, Mark and Matthew.  Teresa learned to play accordian at 8, then went on to the piano then the organ.  She's an awesome musician.  Mark and Matt both were compelled to play, but neither ever showed any interest in guitar.

While on the evangelistic field in '84 - 86, Mark showed an interest in drums.  I'd had a huge amount of negative experience with the drums, and never even gave him a chance although he asked repeatedly.

One night after church, he wanted to try the drums while we were jamming.  He took off on them things, and I could not believe what I was hearing!  That kid was awesome!  As soon as we could, we got him a set of drums and lessons.  He has just soared from there.

One evening about 10 or 12 years later Matt came in and said "Dad, would you teach me to play bass?  Before the sound of that question ever died, we had the lesson going!  An he proved the musician in him as the others had.  Except, all three have excelled much higher than I ever hoped to obtain.

Now Teresa has two girls, and both have expressed an interest in music, but neither have that 'I gotta do it drive yet.  But I have confidence they will.  Matt has two very young girls who I hope will someday want to play.  Mark has a very young son named Buster, (well, his Momma calls him Morgan, but his real name is Buster!  as per Papa!)

While we were in Augusta, GA. visiting Mark and Melanie, we got the privileged of keeping Buster.  After two hours of trying to find out what he wanted, I gave up and let Grandma work with him.  Food didn't satisfy him, sweets, clean diaper, . . . we just couldn't figure out what the problem was.

Like I said, I gave up and picked up my guitar and he never noticed a thing.  When I started strumming it, Buster turned around, ran over and sat down at my feet like I used to do with Uncle Norman and Uncle Claybourne.  I was tickled pink!!  I played until I was beat, and he sat right there.

When I stopped, he'd start fussing again, and I'd start.  Oh the joy of that little feller liking the guitar like that!

But he's got something I never had nor could arrange.  He has talented parents, Grandparents, and an Uncle who is an awesome musician, and writes music to boot!  I can hardly wait to see what transpires with this early budding musician!

George Cavaness
10-09-1994



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