“Knowledge embues competence and competence conquers all.”
Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®
While on tour in Japan, the instrument maker and bassist for The QuickTurtle Band, TBone Ditty was inspired by an instrument he saw being played by a youthful Geisha Girl in the hotel where the band was holed up. The sound was very delicate and ethereal. When QT Magnolia began to hum along and dance sensually to the melody, TBone had to cool down and vacated the premises. He went for a stroll along the rocky shore of the Pacific Ocean and gathered an array of magical driftwood to construct what he called his Little Pinky.
The instrument showed up unexpectedly in their final show in Nagasaki along with the cute little Geisha Girl who played a lovely rendition of The QuickTurtle’s song “Heaven’s Day”. With The Turtlettes singing backup and with QT’s convincing lead vocals they brought the house down. Since this song was originally recorded as a punk song, it was a drastic deviation from what the young Japanese audience had been expecting. To TBone’s credit, it turned into an overwhelming success.
As for the Japanese press, there’s a rumor going around that the beautiful Geisha Girl was stowed away on the plane for the band’s flight back to the British Isles. Can we expect to see this young Asian lassie as part of their upcoming show at the Albert Hall? Would they be so bold? God save the Queen.
Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®
I hike everyday. It is energizing and allows my spirit to open up to my surroundings. I am able to observe with the spirit’s eye and see universes beyond the physical reality of things. I am delighted to take photographs and collect artifacts like feathers and wood for use in recreating what I have seen in my imagination.
On my many wanderings I have come to find hidden and secluded places where almost no human ever ventures anymore. I am not talking about the wilderness, I am talking about within the city limits of San Francisco. Most of The City is a massive tangle of abutted structures, but not all. There are forsaken copses of trees and open spaces in this bustling cityscape. Some appear forgotten as the now condemned Berlinski’s Hardware that sits forlorn with its boarded-up windows next to a twenty-first century Home Depot. I used to frequent that old Hardware Store and it was way more interesting than Home Depot could ever dream of being.
My name is The Surest Sugar Maple. The Elders christened me with the namesake as a young child because of my propensity to take calculated risks that none of the other kids could wrap their wits around. I was the one that climbed the railroad trestle and tied the rope so we could fly out over the cliff and fall into the river. I hunted and snared the rattlesnakes that were fodder for our moccasins.
If I wasn’t sure about a dare or a challenge, I wouldn’t take it on until I had it figured out to where the odds were in my favor. I couldn’t be swayed but I could be bought. It served me well in Hollywood where I spent many years working with the likes of John Wayne, Fess Parker, and Jimmy Stewart. I was one of the Indians falling off horses, cliffs and bar stools. I have an abundance of physical wounds to show for it, but I am alive and a very rich man because of it.
I am also old, but I am not as decrepit as the cocky little teenagers think. They have begun to follow me at times and are over-confident, foolish and blind. Their bodies are full of fast food and drugs. They lack the power of observation. They only see an old man, they do not see beneath the surface where I am fleet as a gazelle when and if I need and want to be.
The Skinny One and The Vulture had been waiting to ambush me when I came out of the Wells Fargo on Biscayne Street. The Skinny One sidled up to me on my left while The Vulture nervously poked something implying a gun into my ribs.
“Gotcha old man,” The Skinny One hissed. He was their teenage lips, their fear and their bravado all mixed up into one. Of all the little gangsters that I had noticed he seemed like the one that was dangerous. “Just do as I say,” he said, “And maybe you’ll live to tell your chess playing Bros about shitting your pants down at the Wells Fargo.”
What he didn’t have was the gun. It was The Vulture that had the weapon in my ribs and I had since surmised that he had no business as a hoodlum. He was too sensitive, weak minded and a coward. Besides that, I had purposely bumped him with my elbow and there had been no weight behind the supposed weapon. It was either his finger or maybe a plastic water pistol.
They ushered me down Biscayne. An old man and a couple of teenagers out for a stroll. As they did so, I quickly concluded that I was probably in no real danger. That’s the luxury of having made a calculated risk, the odds are in your favor. When I added it up, one way or another they were destined to lose. They were high on adrenalin and probably cocaine. They were having visions of how they had already won.
To be continued.
Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®
Howie Burn of CCB Radio caught up with Robbie Slade, guitarist for The QuickTurtle Band while surf fishing in Hawaii.
Robbie is an avid surf caster and not that hard to locate if you know where to look. You just need a fishing pole and some patience.
Robbie was enthused and happy to share a fish story and answer a question or two regarding the band.
“Last week I hooked an albacore right there off that outcrop and the sharks went crazy. Almost lost her but managed to weave her in through a maze of those hungry buggers. That’s what I’m hoping to hook into today. Nothing like a nice shark on the other end of the rod for a worthy battle.”
“Not too sure about the shark business,” Howie remarked and looked around suspiciously.
“Never seen one try to take a bite out of me,” Robbie chided, “suppose there could be a first time though.” He shrugged his shoulders and made another cast.
Howie took one more anxious look around and asked, “How many instruments do you own and play, Robbie?”
“As many as I am given,” he joked. “Really. Over the last few years at least a couple of dozen for our shows and another couple of dozen when we’re just messing around.”
“I noticed you had something new on stage last night. Will you be pulling it out of the bag soon?”
“As a matter of fact, yes. Tonight. We’ve been working on a new version of “All of That”. It will feature The PineApple Ukulele. That was what you were looking at. It’s a great little Uke that TBone recently put together on the North Shore. I…Whoa! Fish on!”
“Wow! Is that a shark?”
“Hammerhead!” Robbie exclaimed and grinned.
The reel screamed as the shark made a run for deeper water. Robbie laughed and played her like his guitar. A real virtuoso.
Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Book®
He was my older brother by spirit, not by blood. He could look through the eyes of the crow or the hawk and see you even when he wasn’t present. He had what the elders called far vision. He had the ears of a deer and the wings of a duck. He could disappear at will.
I adored him.
He told me, “Stop being a puppy, young Night Bird.”
He often came decorated with paint in the colors of a warrior. He pointed with a finger and spoke with his hands. He would grab my tongue and give a shake of his head if I spoke too loud near the water where we fished. He gave me feathers for lessons and beads rubbed raw by the swirling currents of the river. He gifted me the paw of a weasel when I showed him a nest of pheasant eggs.
I looked up to receive his praise.
He told me, “Don’t put your eggs in another man’s basket.”
He helped me find an ash to carve a bow. He taught me the way of sticks and how they bend just right when they plead to be an arrow. He showed me rituals on how to ask the feather where it goes and how to honor flint when it is broken. I was coached on how to say the words to make an arrow fly true to its kill.
I found truth in what he said.
He told me, “Truth is worthless to the dead.”
He tested me like the leather I used to string my bow. He tested my patience and my will. He approved or disapproved. It all depended on the direction of the wind. I could tell by the the lift of his chin when he knew that I knew.
I smiled at his knowledge.
He told me, “A lesson learned is a lesson you forgot.”
We practiced until I bled and my blood became a vessel that poured my spirit into the bow, until my hands were indistinguishable from the rose of the wood. I shot arrow after arrow, day upon day two years in a row. I could stand on my head or I could sit, I could run or I could crawl, leap or flip. It didn’t matter to my arrows, they had learned to arrive where I had meant them to go. They were I and I was them and in an instant I could snatch an arrow out of flight and whisk it back from where it came.
I was cocky with my aim.
He told me, “The pheasant that crows too soon and too loud gets eaten.”
He took me to the mountains and taught me how to hunt like the big cats and climb like the goats. I was shown the camouflage of painted faces and the different spirits they conjure for their host. He spoke the words behind the smoke and the rhythms of the tom-toms. We danced the dances, chanted our chants and in the Spring I came to be a man in the arms of Silver Birch.
I went to her in the night.
He told me, “Love is a warrior’s strength and his weakness combined.”
We sat in silence amidst the bustle of the many young boys as they searched to retrieve our arrows. They plucked them from the grass where we practiced and brought them back to our quivers by name. We traded for their efforts with feathers and beads or candy for the ones that shook their heads. One That Grows Fat In the Middle is my little brother by blood. My Little Brother by spirit is Cloud In The Eye. He too likes candy above feathers and often cries to my dismay. I do not recall myself in his childish manners. He seems to lack the will in search of his honor.
Older Brother clicks his teeth. He points and gestures with his chin, “Some boys are men, some boys are squaws. It’s good to know which,” he said, “when war comes.”
Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books™
Built by the famed instrument maker and Stand Up Bassist of The QuickTurtle Band, TBone Ditty. This bass made it’s first appearance in the initial recording of The Diagnostic Symptoms Blues. It is now a part of Robbie Slades arsenal of instruments. TBone built the bass at the St. Andrews Estuary while picnicking with QT Magnolia the band’s lead singer.
QT in a recent interview with Howie Burn from CCB Radio talked about TBone and his music making prowess.
“That was truly a glorious weekend,” QT recalls, “we had just finished our European Tour and needed to get out from under our road weariness. We were having a nice little picnic when TBone spotted the bass’s soundboard calling out to him from a pile of sea strewn debris. After a little more searching he had his little pile of gems all laid out on our blanket. Not only did TBone build the bass right there on the spot, he wrote the lyrics to The Diagnostic Symptoms Blues after hearing from one of our fans that there was an epidemic of ADHD drugging of young QuickTurtles at his alma mater WestBank Elementary School.”
“Right into create mode!” Howie exclaimed.
“It was. We arranged and wrote the music that same day. It was recorded the very next weekend.”
“I understand TBone builds all of his instruments by hand?”
“Yes he’s a naturalist. He has great hands and an abundance of patience. He also has a fabulous ear. It’s a good thing because he needs it when it comes to me.”
“Thank you, QT. Anything new on the horizon?”
“I’d just say, hold on to your toupee there Howie!”
It speaks for itself.