At the 2011 Grammy awards, my favorite crazed customer was inducted into the Lifetime achievement award, I speak of The famous Bob Shane of the KINGSTON TRIO. I grew up in the pre-rock era, ruled by acoustic guitars, banjo, and strong vocals, pre Beatles-Stones, and there wasn’t much around. So all us folkies took it seriously. Upon the THE SONG WE HEARD “Hang down your head Tom Dooley” was a sad, tale of love and murder, but sold a lot of records for THE KINGSTON TRIO. Along with Dylan and other acoustic guitar / singer bands, we all became mesmerized by their blend of matching shirts, and well blended harmony, with traditional tunings, along with some comedy skits thrown in.
Imagine my surprise when I received a call from C.F. Martin and company, asking me if I had heard of the Kingston Trio? Talk about karma, one of my favorite Kingston CD’s was in the player right then. I said of course, how can I be of service??? “Bob Shane (a founding member) needs his C. F. Martin Kingston D-28 refretted and had heard I was a man to handle the job”. I was totally thrilled, getting to possibly meet Bob Shane, and work wonders on his well worn guitar. Sure enough 5 minutes off the phone I got a call .. “This is Bob Shane, and the folks at Martin said to take my guitar to you!!!!!.” I couldn’t get him into my shop fast enough!
He was a delightful older hippie, long white hair half way down his back, a nice sun tan and a hawaiian shirt. He had obviously played the heck out of the first 2 positions as I expected, and I was prepared to do the necessary restoration and return it promptly to him. I asked him to play for me and got to see and hear a Kingston song, and to witness his playing style. What a treat to have Bob Shane in my shop playing for me!!!! Of all the influences I’ve had, Shane was as big as they get and there I was about to refret his Martin; what a treat!!!
After a very careful refretting, I returned the guitar to him and he played it and was happy, as I had expected him to be, as I was very very careful to get everything right!!!!!! We chatted a bit about his life on the road for 40 years, his different gigs and all, and just hung out together. When it came time to part ways, he snuck a joint into my hand (or was it a hand rolled cigarette?!). I asked him to autograph my CD cover, he wrote “What a strange, long trip its been, Bob Shane”.
Take a listen to The Kingston Trio; well worth the time.