Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Rare Exception

Back when I was new at playing, in the days of Ducky's, then J.T. And The Rowdy Band, there was a guy named Earl Hughes - he was an exceptional player, singer, and entertainer, the guy had charisma, looked good, and had a very good stage presence.  I would say he was and is the best all around country entertainer that Hawaii has ever seen.  Well, when I was at the old Pecos (before they moved to the bigger, more popular location), he came in one night, asked me if he could sit in on fiddle.  I'd heard horror stories about Earl - how he was so full of himself, how he always tried to "steal" gigs, always wanting to upstage other players, be the center of attention, and a few other less than good things.  Well, as with any guest who I know is a professional, I welcomed him on my stage, and I did what I always do - I let him to whatever he wanted, and as long as the people were ok with him, he could stay up there for the whole set.  Well, he sang a couple songs, then asked me to go ahead and sing a few, so I did.  When it was time for the leads, also as always, I would do half, and the guest would do half - sometimes me starting, sometimes the guest starting - but always with both doing a part.  He seemed to be having a good time.  After a while he asked if I did Faded Love, I said, "Yeah, but pretty badly", he said, "Well, let's try it".  So, we kicked into it, and he played harmony to my lead part - twin fiddles, and it sounded really good - in fact, with his harmony fiddle part, he made me sound better than I actually was.  Funny thing, he was up there the whole set, and never gave even the slightest hint of trying to steal the show, be the center of attention, upstage me or anybody, and he didn't talk to any management about taking any of the nights that I was working there (not that that's a bad thing - I never was of the belief that a band or musician owns a gig).  I guess it goes to show, when a guy has that kind of talent and appeal, most musicians are going to be so green with envy that they will do anything to badmouth, downplay, or straight up squash him.  Fact is, I've seen it many, many times since.

So, Earl, thanks for that, and I shake your hand for being the exceptional guitar player, fiddle player, pedal steel player, singer, and entertainer that you are.

I don't know what Earl is doing these days, I only know that he was in Alaska a few years ago, I hope he's doing well.

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