At first the checkout girl at the Knoxville, Tennessee Piggly-Wiggly didn’t understand my request… ten dollars’ worth of quarters. But she complied.
We had set up our camera an hour and a half north, on the most beautiful, remote stretch of railroad track we could find in eastern Tennessee. Stephen and banjo were poised to play as the only train that afternoon passed by, creating a scene that Robert Altman would have loved. Finally, the whistle blew and the locomotive loomed, Stephen strummed and the camera… died. Yes, died. I always wonder what the engineer thought as he passed three men in the wild; one playing banjo, one bent over a tripod, and one (me) jumping up and down, cursing the heavens.
So off we went to the nearest town, Knoxville, to find another camera.
(Footnote 1: children, there was a time when video cameras were rare in this world.)
I needed the quarters to dial the pay phone in the Piggly-Wiggly.
(Footnote 2: children, there was a time when cell phones did not exist; and believe it or not, you had to “dial” the phone numbers, not punch.)
It was a quarter a call, and by $8.75, I had calluses on the sides of my index finger to equal Stephen’s fretting hand. But we found another camera in Nashville.
I relate this story for two reasons: first, because I still laugh when I think of it; and second, because Catching the Music was a labor of love, and the labor part cannot be overlooked.
In fact, it was that phrase, “Catching the Music,” which had piqued my interest from the beginning. It’s an active phrase, denoting effort and indicating success, but also implying there’s no end to it. Which is true. Stephen and the other wonderful musicians, living and dead, that he introduces to us have worked damn hard on what they love, and continue to share with us by example how to open our hearts and souls to catch—and not miss—the music of our own lives.
---Jackson Frost, November 2006
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