Huber Sandcaster?

Here’s a feel-good story, one about which we have been aware for a few weeks, but have waited until now to mention, once the episode played out. As an admission of interest, let me say up front that it involves a good personal friend of mine, Steve Huber, who is also an advertiser here on Bluegrass Today. Without regard for that, the story involves an admirable act on Huber’s part, one worthy of wider attention.

Several weeks ago, a friend mentioned to Steve that he had seen a posting on the BanjoHangout.org discussion boards from Maj. Corey Seats, an Operations Officer with the 875th Engineer Battalion, stationed in Iraq.

Corey posted asking if anyone might have a banjo available for sale at a modest price which he could keep with him on the base. His batallion, an Arkansas National Guard unit from Jonesboro, spends their days looking for Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), and he had been leery of shipping his personal banjo over to Iraq.

Huber’s first reaction on hearing about this was that he wanted to do something, and asked his friend, Dave Foster, who frequents the BanjoHangout, to contact Corey and ask that he email Huber directly. Once they got in touch, Huber told Corey that he would like to assemble one of his Lancaster model banjos from parts he had on hand in the shop, and ship it to the base at no charge, along with one of his Huber capos and a strap.

Needless to say, Seats was floored by the offer, and very appreciative of Huber’s generosity.

“Man, I don’t know what to say. Thank you doesn’t cover it! It certainly wasn’t my intention to try to get a free banjo! I am very familiar with your banjos, and those that play them. Jim Mills, Barry Abernathy, Sammy Shelor, and Cia Cherryholmes are all favorites of mine. I’ll have to put on my Jim Mills DVD (yes, I brought it with me), and TRY to match him note-for-note!”

Huber Banjos donates a new Lancaster to soldier serving in IraqHe received the banjo a few days ago, and sent along this photo of himself with his new Lancaster.

Huber said that he didn’t see this as such a big deal, and was happy to have been able to do something concrete in return for the sacrifice these men and women in uniformed service make on a daily basis.

“You think about those guys over there risking their lives, and want to do something to show your appreciation other than just sending money to an organization somewhere. This opportunity to do something for Corey just landed in my lap, and I feel grateful for the chance, even if it only helped this one guy.”

Corey Seats has been playing banjo for more than 25 years, though only seriously for the past four. His home is in Jonesboro, AR, where he lives with his wife and two small children. He has been in the military for 14 years, in the National Guard this past 11.

He now describes himself as a “Huber customer for life.”

On a related note, you may be interested in the efforts of Operation: Music Aid, who help obtain musical instruments for the use of US military members who are in recovery or rehabilitation for injuries incurred during their service.

Charlie Daniels has also been involved in helping get musical instruments to service men and women stationed overseas through Operation Heartstrings. He discussed this with us in a GrassCast interview last year, which you can hear online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.

  • I’ll admit it – this item made me tear up. Big kudos to Steve! I’ve been in contact with a soldier who just returned from Afghanistan and is looking for a new fiddle with which to celebrate his homecoming. He reminded me that many of our servicemen and women are musicians and are so grateful to have that little bit of home with them while they are away. For or against or current conflicts, please help those involved keep the music in their lives.
    Cheers, Megan

  • Tina Aridas

    In the context of the debate over the IBMA Awards Show, I’ve been thinking about the issue of patriotism a lot lately — specifically, how we show our patriotism and support for our troops.

    This morning I read the story on Bluegrass Today about Steve Huber sending the banjo to the serviceman in Iraq.

    Recently, I got another one of those pass-along emailings suggesting something like wearing red every Friday to show support for the troops. I wondered what, exactly, does wearing red on Fridays do for our troops? And what, exactly, does a military presentation at an Awards Show do for our troops? (I’ll bet that sending them a banjo or a book or an mp3 player — or some body armor — might be more appreciated.)

    When you think about it, flag-waving and other empty gestures make the flag-waver feel good. But beyond that, what, exactly, does having a “patriotic display” at an IBMA Awards Show do for the men and women fighting, and dying, in Iraq or Afghanistan? What does it do for the families they leave behind? What does it do for the men and women who come home wounded?

    The Awards Show didn’t raise money for troops, for their families, or for veterans. It didn’t help any organization that’s dealing with mental health issues for returning soldiers (visit http://www.swords-to-plowshares.org for more information on the enormous problems they face, about the government cut-backs on aid to veterans, and how you can help on this important issue, and there are other organizations around the country doing similar work — or talk to Mike Marceau, who knows a thing or two (or three or four) about how to help).

    So all of this uproar over the Awards Show was because the folks involved in the presentation just wanted to feel good.

    At least, that’s how I’ve come to see it. Because, basically, it didn’t do one iota of good for any soldier or veteran or their families.

    Steve Huber found a way to feel even better — and at the same time do some small act of kindness for someone who is far from home and in a world not like anything those of us at home are even close to understanding.

    If the purpose of those involved in the Awards Show was to “support our troops,” instead of empty flag-waving gestures, they might have taken a cue from Steve Huber — and, at the same time, gained my respect instead of losing it.

    Steve Huber is my kind of patriot.

    Tina Aridas
    James Reams & The Barnstormers
    http://www.jamesreams.com