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‘West Virginia, Here we Come!’

November 25th, 2009   News  


In the middle of this  month, I mentioned Bill Hudson, a musician who takes  sharing very seriously.

He, “and other like-minded people, collect musical instruments to give to children in America’s still-recovering storm-ravaged Gulf Coast, also working to organise live concerts to help take people’s minds off their troubles,” I said.

Bill and his friends Al Coffey and Craig Counts have just returned from their latest Feel Good Tour »»»

When ever I am doing a gig, or am at a party, I am always trying to get the word out as to what we are doing collecting instruments. In our area we have a recording studio that has a Christmas party once a year with great food, music, and friends. It was at this party I met Craig Counts, a good guitar picker. Over the last year Craig and I have played a few times together and we enjoy playing together.

A few weeks ago I asked Craig if he wanted to go and help us at a school in West Virginia. Right away he said yes, he would love too, just like that. Craig has a family with two young daughters and a great wife and looks like he has his hands full, but he jumped right on it. For that, Al and I are really appreciative. We know in these times it is not easy.

Well, the 20th of November rolled around and we all left early in the morning with a van full of instruments. We had plenty of time; what could go wrong? We figured that maybe it might take 4 hours or so, and leaving early never hurts, again what could go wrong?

Now, sometimes in life as they say you hit a bump in the road. In this case, it seems we hit several. First, there was a batch of sheet metal the car in front of us was able to dodge, but we didn’t see in time to avoid. Result- flat tire- not at first, but as we rolled along I could hear something on the right going bump, bump; with a beat, of course. I told Al and Craig in the front seat, “Guys I think we better stop”. So we pulled over in a very windy part of West Virginia. We got the donut spare on to make it to a gas station where we could put a real tire on. Next, we find that one of the lug studs has stripped threads. This meant more time lost, and we just had to sit at this gas station in Beckly, West Va., waiting for parts, what else could go wrong?

We had left very early in the morning to get to the school on time and now this.

When everything finally got done, we left the gas station around 1PM. We had to be there by 2PM and still had lots of miles to make. We talked about it and we all felt if we could get to the school and get the guitars and fiddles there, then our mission’s accomplished. We had been asked to play and if we can make it in time, we will. What more could happen? I was even thinking if the kids are on the bus, we can do a little playing on the bus. I have done that before years ago. We’re to play to the kids right before they go home; the last 45 minutes of the school day. So again, if we can make it there, we still have a plan. Craig is doing the best he can to get us there on time.

West Virginia is full and turns and twisty small roads so you cannot go that fast. Sometimes you even get behind a logging truck going up hill (common in these parts). So of course we find the school just as all the buses are pulling out. Elaine Purky and her husband and the Principal and music teacher have all been nice enough to wait for us, and are standing there waiting as we roll in. They all wave and smile and we introduce ourselves and tell them we are so sorry in getting there so late. We get acquainted as we start bringing in the guitars and fiddles.

This part of the operation goes fairly smoothly until we try using the camera. Apparently over the years we have worn out the trigger. Bump…thump…bump. (Well, we have used it a lot!) Thank goodness Craig brought his camera too, so we were able to get some pictures.

After exchanging more information and starting a plan for a return trip, we say our goodbyes and start on our way home. Little did we know that there were more bumps in our road yet to come.

We now knew the way, so we figured it would be simple getting back. And it would have been, but we got so wrapped up in the events of the day that we didn’t pay attention to the gas gauge. Yep, you guessed it. We ran out of gas and had to pull off on the side of the Interstate 81 Nort. (Bump…) Fortunately, we were just shy of an exit, (well, about 2 miles shy) and within walking distance of a gas station. Of course, we also didn’t have a gas can with us, so we had to get a can AND gas. At this point, we were wondering which one of the travel gods we had cheesed off.

But wait, there’s more! By the time we walked all that way, the car’s battery had run down from having to run the hazard lights for so long, so even though we had gas now, we still weren’t going anywhere. Our luck was holding steady…(Bump…)

Calls to friends didn’t find any help available, and no other cars seemed willing to stop, so we were getting ready to start pulling hair out. At last somebody somewhere took pity on us, and a trooper pulled up to check on us. All we needed was a jump start, and we had cables, so this fine gentleman saved our bacon and gave us that jump. (THANK YOU officer!) Sometimes you CAN find a cop when you need one!

Now powered up and gassed up (not to mention fed up. with ourselves mostly), we got to the gas station and refueled and, crossing our fingers, started the last leg of the trip. We made it the rest of the way home without further incident. (Halleleujah!)

“All in all,” Bil adds add, “even though it was a crazy day, the end result was some kids who needed instruments now have them.

“And that’s the whole point.”

JN

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