Here are two more responses to the passing of George Shuffler from prominent grassers feeling the loss. First up is Jack Lawrence, a flatpicking master who refers to himself as a journeyman guitarist. Jack spent a large part of his professional career in support of Doc Watson.
I met George and his family when I was a boy. George was always kind and encouraging of my efforts to play the guitar. I met him at The Lake Norman Music Hall where my father was the soundman. I was there, backstage, when he pulled the prank on the Seldom Scene. As Tom Gray said in his remembrance, the story can’t be told here but believe me, it was pure George. He always knew how to have fun. His contribution to our beloved music should never be forgotten.
The entire Shuffler family took me in and treated me as one of their own. Words can’t describe the love I’ve felt from them over the years. I’m honored to have played music with all the “Shuffler Boys” during the course of my life. Brother Ronnie played bass on my last recording. But most of all I’m honored to have been close to a loving family who have gone out of their way to show their love for me. My heart-felt condolences to them all.
I’ll always remember the last words we spoke to each other. Upon parting ways, George said “I love you,” and I said “I love you, too, George”
This second poignant remembrance comes from Jr. Williams, banjo player and vocalist with NewTown.
I first met George Shuffler in 1997 I think, at a bluegrass festival in Virginia. The group I played electric bass and acoustic guitar with at the time were called The Bishops, a father/son trio from Richmond KY. Why we were at a bluegrass festival with piano, electric bass and drums, I’ll never know. But when I saw a white haired gentleman walk on the flatbed trailer that served as a stage, I told myself… “That’s George Shuffler!”
In absolute awe of his guitar playing, having learned every George Shuffler guitar break ever, I had to meet The Man!!! I walked up to their table after their show and introduced myself; he grabbed my trembling hand in his giant hand and proceeds to tell me how he liked “our” music! I was floored!!!
He was like that, always lifting musicians up, giving them a pat on the back, being a cheerleader. We met again at a NewFound Road show at The Old Rock School around 2004. I asked him for a guitar lesson… He said “You have to learn that stuff on your own… I’m not giving away to some kid!”
I proceeded to play Harbor of Love, asking if I was close to his original intro. He said, “you’re getting warm.” His daughter Jennie said, “Daddy, that’s exactly the way you played it,” but he scolded her saying, “no, no… he’s close but he ain’t got it!” We became fast friends after that. He would call me on my birthday, April 4th, and wish me Happy Birthday. I would call him a week later, on the 11th and return the favor. This went on for years.
He didn’t call me this time; I was concerned. I was going to call Monday morning to check on him, and then I saw the first Facebook post about his passing. My heart sank. After contacting a few friends, I found out the news was true.
I will miss talking with my friend. Tears flow freely from my eyes in the realization I won’t hear the voice again, but I will see him again. Rest in Peace my precious friend, I love you more than words can say.