The Anchor’s Chain

IMG_1130

The morning dawns
lightning strikes
and black sky,
we’re leaving now
to catch the tide.
hoisted sails
and fishing poles,
black coffee
and jelly rolls,
like mallard wings
we shed the rain
and leave behind
the anchor’s chain. Continue reading

Advertisements

TBone Ditty, creator of the QuickTurtle® Band (continued)

Golfing Turtle

When the Buzz Cuts disbanded, TBone joined the golf team.  He quickly established himself as a scrappy competitor willing to take the risks to win.  He became less serious and more happy-go-lucky.  His performances on the golf course seemed to be a placebo for his need to entertain.  He was soon dubbed with the nickname, Turtle Woods.

Musically, TBone journeyed more into himself.  He wasn’t particularly in a funk, he was just very introspective after dealing with the difficulties of trying to hold together two bands at such an early age.  Yes, bands were fun, but they were all encompassing entities that were as fickle as the weather.  He had needed a break and golf afforded that outlet.

While working his way up the leaderboards, TBone spent his downtime focusing more on song writing.  He learned the piano.  He dabbled in the blues and had developed a special liking for punk music, but in the end his tendency was the down home feel and sound of folk.  His lyrics were oriented around the social issues of the day and the escapades of falling in and out of love.  He would often pull out his acoustic guitar and play a few ditties for the golf team while they were holed up in some cheap motel on the road.  It was his first foray into what it would be like to be out on tour in a touring band.

On senior ‘Skip Day’, TBone hauled his guitar and an old banjo down to the park.  He soon became the focal point for the more artistic crowd as he played some of the popular hits of the day.  He interspersed the hits with some of his own creations and got lots of compliments especially from the girls.  His song writing had matured along with his performance skills from the hours and hours he had seemingly spent in front of a mirror.  Having the attention of a rapt crowd rekindled the performance bug and his dire need for a band.  He didn’t have the makings of going it alone; he considered it just too lonely.

Fortunately for TBone, Robbie Slade had decided that he’d had enough of Algebra and skipped off to the park with the seniors.  It was a very brave thing to do as a sophomore, not only because he was going to get detention but also because he was traipsing into senior territory where no male sophomore had a right to go.  Robbie looked like a geek.  He was sarcastic and strong willed with a short fuse.

It was a blessing that TBone had everyone’s attention when Robbie showed up in the park because Robbie walked unscathed and ignored.  No one saw the need to confront him or chase him off as he slowly edged his way to the front.  He listened attentively to several songs before he latched onto one of TBone’s originals.  He had brought along his harmonica and boldly pulled it out.  He skillfully bent some notes and folded them subtly into the second verse of TBone’s; Too Fat Shuffle.

TBone was quite impressed.  He quickly taught Robbie another of his songs and once again Robbie wove the harmonica in superbly.  They intuitively began to play off of each other with skill and comfort.  They played for over an hour, egged on and applauded by the gathered crowd.

As the seniors finally wrapped up their ‘Skip Day’ in the park, TBone didn’t hesitate to invite Robbie over to his garage for a little jam session.  He was intrigued by the skinny sophomore and not only did they hit it off musically but they were also bonding as friends.

The seeds for the QuickTurtle Band sprouted that day in TBone’s heart.

Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®

TBone Ditty, creator of the QuickTurtle® Band

IMG_0309

TBone Ditty was born on a north country farm.  He was surrounded by home craftsmen and influenced by their skill and assortment of hand tools from an early age.  He built tree houses and soapbox cars out of the scrap lumber he rummaged from old coops and dilapidated barns.  His beech tree house was where he formed his first band.

He was eight years old.  He created a xylophone out of an assortment of soda pop bottles and a set of drums out of old metal milk pails and creamery cans.  He found an old whiskey jug in their farmhouse basement and a Hohner harmonica that had been sat on way too many times.  One of the neighbor boys brought along a rusty old cowbell they incorporated as well.

They called themselves “The RagTag Boys” even though TBone’s older sister Carla did the vocals.  She was a screamer but could carry a tune well enough to get them by.  She also took a liking to ringing the cowbell and yodeling at opportune times.

Music wasn’t just a flash in the pan for TBone.  He convinced the other kids to come to the tree house almost every weekend to practice and help write and perform his silly songs.  It wasn’t but three months later and they played in a talent show down at the local church.  They didn’t win but they raised some eyebrows.  They became a hit among their school friends and were invited to play at birthday parties and family picnics.  They even earned some pocket change.

TBone kept the RagTag Boys musically motivated for a couple of years and then his mates seemed to outgrow the simple instruments and TBone’s overbearing devotion.  Their were baseballs to be pitched and hit over the fence.   There were girls that needed teasing and kissed.  Those things, chores and homework absorbed their precious free time.  The RagTag Boys disbanded and went their separate ways.

TBone himself continued along his musical path by toying more and more with woodworking and the building of sophisticated stringed instruments.  By the time he reached his twelfth birthday he had built his first fiddle and an acoustic guitar.  Both were functioning instruments when he formed his second band called “The BuzzCuts”.  It was made up of a batch of new friends with the exception of their lead singer who was once again Carla.  She had blossomed into a pretty and bodacious entertainer.

The band graduated into the realm of being a bonafide garage band until the fateful day when Carla was accepted and called away to acting school.  TBone tried to forge ahead, but without Carla the band lacked the vocals necessary to carry them forward and the BuzzCuts went the way of the RagTag Boys.

TBone was 16 years old.     (to be continued)

Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®  http://www.quickturtlebooks.com

The QuickTurtle® Band, The QuickTurtle Fiddle

QuickTurtle Violin
QuickTurtle Fiddle

     The QuickTurtle Band had stopped over in Cabo San Lucas to let Robbie get in a little surf casting before their concert in San Diego.  TBone sometimes joined him in the rolling waves but decided to forego the fishing fun for the opportunity to design and build QT Magnolia a new fiddle.  He had been struggling with what to get her for birthday and this was the perfect opportunity for creating and giving her something meaningful.

     Her original fiddle had been recently misplaced or stolen while on their major-city tour in South America.  QT was by no means devastated by its loss but the fiddle did have memories of younger days associated with it.  TBone knew it was his chance to replace it.

     He tipped his hat to Robbie and headed down the beach.

     He scored even before he arrived at the first cove.  He found some great pieces of driftwood in a rocky area that was seldom touched except by the highest of tides.  The right pieces of wood always seemed to speak to him and several pieces jumped out and spoke very eloquently.  If they didn’t talk, they wouldn’t sing and he didn’t compromise when it came to instrument building.  He hauled them back to the beach area near the hotel and went to work.

     TBone loved the craft of woodworking.  He went about the the task of building his instruments as if he were possessed.  He lived on coffee and didn’t stop tinkering until the fiddle was strung and ready to be tuned.  His nerves were standing on edge as he tightened the first string.  When he plucked it, it resonated all the way to his toes and he knew immediately that he had created something very special for QT.  He smiled an laid back in the warm sand completely satisfied and exhausted.

     QT found him that way, fast asleep with the fiddle cradled in his arms.  When she reached out and put her hand on the instrument it felt almost alive.  She couldn’t resist the temptation and gingerly extracted it from TBone’s grasp.  She found Robbie and they headed for her bungalow to get her bow.  Robbie brought along his guitar and they fiddled with creating their new hit song, “The Anchor’s Chain”.

Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®     http://www.quickturtlebooks.com

The QuickTurtle® Band, The 3 String Wheezer

IMG_0972

`      Howie Burn from CCB’s Radio Show “Tune In, Not Out” was scheduled to pick up the band at the airport.  The QuickTurtles had just left the Philippines and Howie was to meet them when they touched down in Seoul.  They had an interview set up at the restaurant in the hotel.

Unfortunately TBone was in one of his more meditative moods when they debarked.  He commandeered Howie to drop QT and Robbie off at the hotel and then directed Howie to head for the ocean minus a camera man.  Howie really didn’t mind, if he could get a few questions answered on the drive.  He could then write his article in the air-conditioned rental car while TBone traipsed around in the heat.

“I heard your new song, The Blue Guitar.”  Howie remarked.

“Creepy,” TBone replied as he looked out the window at Seoul.

When nothing further was offered, Howie plowed ahead.  “Are you having Alcohol issues, TBone?”

“See that pagoda with the green roof?” TBone asked, “I think that is the place QT and I ate the last time we were in town.  They have great Korean Barbecue.”

“You hungry?”  Howie asked.

“Not now.  I want to get to the beach and look for materials for this instrument that is rattling around in my head.”

“That song, TBone, are you doing okay?”

“Howie, I’m doing great.  It was just a song.  It was at the end of our tour.  We were stuck at the Limbo airport with nothing to do.  I wasn’t drinking or standing at urinals all night except in my imagination.  That’s what song writing is about.  We make it up.  We create something that’s not there.”

“Art imitates life,” Howie said.

“No, life imitates art,” TBone replied and set out to build an instrument that mimicked the chirp of the yellow birds that had been hanging around the hotel courtyard while the band was in Manilla.

TBone built what he dubbed “The 3 String Wheezer”.   After several aborted attempts he was able to pick the bird’s notes almost perfectly on it’s strings.  Now those damn birds keep showing up in strange hotels in places like Norway or Iceland.  Makes you want to chuck a handful of sunflower seeds just to appease them.

Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®

PineApple Ukulele

image      The QuickTurtle Band’s PineApple Ukulele

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®