[I receive these occasional emails from Porter Mapes, a bluegrass sideman living the life. The previous batch was posted in Blue Yodel #3.]
Date: June 23, 2012
Sorry it’s been so long since I wrote, but it’s not like I got a lot of free time like I know you do. Some of us can’t just stare out the window for a living. Though I guess that’s what I’m doing right now in the Willett Family van with the eight of us heading west about to cross the Mississippi River, which I’ve never seen and never been west of neither.
The Willett Family Featuring Porter Mapes (which is what I’m calling the band but which Old Man Willett ain’t) has a gig at the Bill Williams Mountain Festival near Williams, Arizona. I don’t know who this Bill Williams is but he sounds like the Donald Trump of Arizona. We’re staying at the Bill Williams Motor Lodge and they mentioned the Bill Williams Barbeque just across the street. Looking forward to meeting him as I have some ideas of my own about setting up Mapes, Georgia, when we get back.
Well, I guess you want to hear all about the wedding between me and Wanda, but I have to tell you it did not happen. I called it off right after she walked out saying she didn’t want to marry me any more.
That was a week before the big day. Old Man Willet was even more broke up than I was cause he’d already shelled out several thousand dollars. Of course, he blames me, and now I have to ride in the wayback with Yarb who don’t know nothin’ except history and how to work a record table.
Well, we just crossed the Mississippi and I have to say I was not impressed. You wouldn’t even want to catch a fish in it cause it would come up spittin’ mud. I made that observation to the rest of the van and they all looked back at me like they were waitin’ for the next bit of wisdom, but I gotta parcel em out one at a time.
Ol’ Yarb he started laughing, but he does that now and then for no reason I can see.
Gotta go, pal, we’re almost to the hotel and we’ve got a gig tonight at this place called Adam’s Spare Rib in Forrest City, Arkansas. Sounds like good eatin’. I’m sick of driving thru drive-thrus, which is what we’ve done since we left Georgia. The Old Man hates to stop.
Also, Wanda and me decided we may as well keep all the wedding gifts that came in as it’s the thought that counts and we thought those people wouldn’t have heard about us not gettin’ married. That $80 you sent will come in handy, so I think we’re even.
I’ll try to write more often.
Your pal, PORTER
Date: June 24, 2012
Well, first to the big news. Wanda and me are back on gettin’ married. Here’s how it happened.
We was havin’ a real good gig at the Spare Rib. It’s a big room and the place was packed with people come out to see us. The restaurant could have made a lot of money except it was two-for-one ribs night.
I have to say my playin’ is gettin’ even better. I think it’s all that sittin’ in the van where I get a chance to drum my fingers on the banjo head. They won’t let me play it in the van, and even the drummin’ gets to ‘em sometimes, but that’s me, huh pal? Professional all the way.
Anyway, during the break I headed over to our table by the kitchen to get the free meal and Wanda was already there packin’ down the ribs. We started a contest to see who could eat the most ribs and that woman beat me fair and square. I told her so and said she was the best woman I’d ever known and that her singin’ that night was better than Alison Krauss and I bet Alison didn’t have to sing over all that noise from the crowd eatin’ and talkin’.
Well, one thing led to another, and I was layin’ on the compliments like free refills of sweet tea, which they had by the way. I could tell she was feelin’ better about me cause during the second set we started makin’ eyes at each other. Then the Old Man caught on and started makin’ eyes at me like I better remember to kick off the right song next time. And Ma Willett kept bringin’ the bass up behind me and playin’ the downbeat real hard like she was trying to tell me something.
It was about three songs into the second set, just as I started my banjo break to Hold Watcha Got, I just stopped playing and looked at Wanda and then she stopped playin’ and then everybody stopped playin’ and the crowd put down their ribs for a second and looked at us and you coulda heard a pick drop in that room. That’s when I said, “Wanda, will you marry me again?” and she said, “Yes,” and that place exploded like you never heard. People gave us a standing ovation and a few even came up and put some money in the tip jar.
Then the Old Man called out for Brand New Broken Heart, which he thinks he sings just like Larry Sparks, but he don’t. Me and Wanda is back on and that’s all that matters.
So, the new plan is to get married at the Bill Williams Chapel in Williams, Arizona. Hope you can make it, but if not, please send another wedding gift as we already spent the last one.
Hope you’re doing as well as me, boy!
Your pal, PORTER
Date: June 25, 2012
Van broke down in Little Rock, but I don’t waste a thing. Wrote a new banjo tune called Broke Down in Little Rock.
I asked you to set me up on the Twitter and I need it fast cause I got some big news I want to tell everybody.
Hint: me and Wanda are heading to the courthouse in Little Rock.
Also, I need to make some money now that I’m going to be a married man. I want to start teaching banjo lessons on the Twitter. Let me know when it’s all ready to go.
Your pal, PORTER
@cvstuart Hey Pal, thanks for setting me up on Twitter. I already have five banjo students! -PORTER
Hey everybody on the Twitter. Banjo lessons coming. Stay tuned.
Here’s my new banjo tune, Broke Down in Little Rock: