Jaime Carter and the stolen bass in the woods

Here’s a true life story that will warm the heart of anyone who owns a treasured musical instrument, and likely everyone who is involved in the bluegrass community as well.

Jaime Carter is a bluegrass bass player from South Carolina, currently with Sweet Potato Pie, and a graduate of the Bluegrass, Old Time & Roots Music program at ETSU, who performs regularly in the southeastern US. Both she and her brother, Zachary Carter, banjo player with Backline, grew up in the music, and have been playing since they were kids.

On Sunday, January 15, her prized 1951 Kay bass was stolen after a gig, every musician’s nightmare. Not only was she without her main axe, Jaime had a deep attachment to this instrument, as she discusses below.

Let’s let her tell the remarkable story of how the old Kay disappeared, and found its way back home in only four days.

“It’s been a wild ride since Sunday evening. I’m so over the moon that it ended up the way it was supposed to.

Zach had asked me to go to Charlotte to play at a funeral for his wife’s grandmother. I don’t take payment for funerals, just not something I do. So we went together, and the bass was in the bed of his truck, with a lock bar over the top of it.  On the way back home, Zach took us all to eat as a thank you.”

When they got back to the truck, the bass was gone.

“On Monday, my brother, myself, and a friend were in Gastonia all day getting security footage, hitting pawn shops, putting up flyers. Then I went back up on Tuesday to talk to someone else about security footage. Then the Charlotte news contacted me, ran a story, and four hours later I get a call.

I was changing the locks on my house and a lady called me, from an unknown number, saying that she was afraid that she had ended up with my bass, and just wanted her money back that she had paid for it.

With it being on the news in Charlotte yesterday, I figured someone was scamming me, seeing how attached I was to this instrument.

She told me to come to a certain address in Charlotte, pull behind this building, and the bass will be a few feet into the woods. I told this to the police, and I don’t think they believed me, but I assured them that it was true. So they went out there and called me back saying, ‘it’s here.'”

Likely preying on the thief’s mind were the security photos that Carter obtained from local businesses showing the actual theft, the man who took it, and the car he drove away in. Plus the information she had posted indicated that she wouldn’t press charges if she got the bass back.

People all over social media rallied instantly to help her recover the bass. It was shared everywhere you might imagine, and she had already visited area pawn shops. The culprit may have seen this as his only hope.

Jaime and Zach were around bluegrass all their lives, as their father, RC Carter, had a band when they were children, RC & The Carolina Moon Pies. He taught both of them when they started playing, and was responsible for her eventually picking up the bass.

“I learned to play on this bass. I had been playing mandolin, and I was terrible at it. We went to the Myrtle Beach festival when I was 14, and I saw this bass for sale. I begged my dad to get it for me, promising him that I would learn how to play it. The guy who was selling it told me to just take it for the weekend, and it would go home with me.

It really clicked for me, the bass, and we had to get someone else to take it back home since we didn’t have room. It always stuck with me as something my parents did for me.

I played that bass at both of their funerals, and it feels like my attachment to them. It’s hard to put into words, all the emotions that I have experienced this past few days.”

What a remarkable story! Jaime really believes that it was divinely inspired.

“To the person who took it, I thank them for not destroying it, throwing it off a bridge, putting it in a dumpster, or something. Whatever it was that made her contact me… it’s just a crazy, off-the-wall story.

It’s emotional… it’s humbling to see how the bluegrass community supports each other. My social media has just exploded with comments and messages.

With the grace of God, the bass is back home.”

Congratulations Jaime Carter, and shame on the coward who took her bass!

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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.