Last call comes early in Haliburton
By Laurie Jones
Published April 26, 2018
It was 7:45 on a Thursday night in Haliburton Village. I was about to lock up and go join our board secretary, Dagmar, for a de-briefing beverage after a long board meeting when in walked Scotty, a drum circle regular toting a banjo. “The open sign was on. Is ukulele happening tonight?”
I told him the Ukuladies practice had moved to the Radio Hall, it was probably over and Dagmar invited him to join us at McKecks. Five minutes later our unlikely threesome was installed by the fire sipping Boshkung 35&118 and I was describing Rails End Gallery’s summer show about stringed instruments, “Making Music.”
“I can see it clearly in my mind’s eye; the thing is, how to make it happen?” I said, before rattling off the names of my collaborators: Bethany Houghton, Wendy Everden, Frank Bros. Guitar, Steve Main, October Browne, the elevator service man Don, and others. “There will be 20 minute cushion concerts for kids, cigar box gittys, a boutique electric guitar, cello, maybe a double bass, violin, tin can banjos; and I’d love to get my hands on a Keith Studholme guitar. Steve even has an idea for a full body vibration/sound installation.”
At this point Dagmar threw her arm up toward the ceiling. “Picture a taut wire from the rafters, anchored to the floor, a tuner key that could be played by gallery visitors. Picture five of them! That would be amazing.”
Scotty stroked his beard. “Something I’ve always wanted to do is play to a lying down audience, call it “bed rock, everybody lying on the floor just listening.”
Dagmar started to sing, just like Barney Rubble – “Flintstones, meet the Flintstones/They’re the modern Stone Age Family/From the town of Bedrock.”
I asked Scotty if “Bed Rock” could be performed at Rails End during Making Music.
“Sure. I don’t see why not,” he replied.
Our beers were already half gone when the waitress came over and announced “Last call. Anybody want another beer?”
“I’m meeting Deb off the bus at the Shamrock station. Maybe I should stay here a bit longer,” said Dagmar.
“I’ll wait with you if you want. We can sip water til they close,” said Scotty.
And me, I said, “I’d better go and write my item for the County Life. I haven’t a clue what to write about though.”
“Tell that story about how you got your first guitar. It was a good one. Why don’t you write about that?” Dagmar and Scotty suggested.
We chatted some more. Dagmar told about her first ukulele buy. She said she went to a music store. Looked around. Pointed to a ukulele on the wall and told the clerk “That one.” My story was about the same. Only it took me a year to get up the nerve to go to the store. It was 2016, I was 59 years old and too shy to try one out, so I put myself in the hands of the clerk, who was kind, and I went home with a smile and a Seagull guitar. Scotty told us the tin can banjo he’d walked in with wasn’t his, it belonged to his friend Donald. Dagmar picked up the tab.
We parted on the sidewalk and decided to head home because the bus was often late and Deb would call when it got close. Scotty walked to his vehicle, tin can banjo tucked under his arm, Dagmar left for home and I got into my car, tuned to Canoe FM and pulled away from the curb. It was already 8:45 p.m. and I had a story to write.
Laurie Jones is curator of the Rails End Gallery and Arts Centre in Haliburton.