Bluegrass motivation from Jack Tottle in Hawaii

Jack Tottle (far right) with friends picking on his porch on the Big Island
Chris Wejrowski, Anne Pontius, Jim Blue, Phyllis Erck, Forrest Arnold, Jack Tottle

This bit of practice motivation for bluegrass pickers comes from Jack Tottle, founder and Professor Emeritus of the Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Country Music Studies program at East Tennessee State University. We are most fortunate that he is becoming a regular contributor from his Pacific island home.

Here’s an item I received from one of my guitar students, Forrest Arnold. He lives with his wife, Saundra, here in the Kohala district of Hawaii’s Big Island on a bluff near the ocean. We currently expect to be locked down until at least May 31, but there are definitely worse places to be sequestered!

Forrest is a guy who knows how to count his blessings and to look on the positive side of things. His comments on the required stay-at-home situation contain references to songs he’s learned to play and sing during his past couple of years of lessons.

I’m sure grateful to be humming Tennessee Rag*, Under the Double Eagle. . . riding a Kohala FreightTrain and Blowing in the Wind as a WayFaring Stranger by a Shady Grove and not doing the Clutch Mountain Backstep in some Dark Hollow…coz At The End of The Day, I feel like a Tennessee Stud and a Salty Dog living in a House of Gold with a Satisfied Mind… and Down The Road I have found Peace In The Valley. After All, I Am A Pilgrim as I Keep On the Sunny Side after Being On A First Name Basis With Da Blues**…. I guess it’s just Amazing Grace—but Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.

 * Tennessee Rag is a nice guitar tune by East Tennessee artist Buffalo Johnson, recorded on the Rich-R-Tone label in the 1940s or ’50s.

** It’s gratifying that Forrest chose to mention one of my songs, First Name Basis With the Blues from my album The Eagle. It features Hunter Berry (fiddle), Dan Boner (guitar, tenor vocals), Glen Rose (banjo), Bill Dunham (bass), and myself (lead vocals, mandolin).