Zeke poked and picked around with playing guitar since his Army days. He could almost strum anything, but purely amateur at best. No one ever told him he ought to be a professional; not even himself. Besides, he was more the face in the crowd type, a spectator to life’s grand concert performances.
Zeke listened to his neighbor behind him, Rusty, and his friends play bluegrass every Saturday afternoon all summer long. Zeke hung his arms over the back fence and listened with a near gaping smile. Afterward he sat alone in his garage and tried to pick up on some of the fast moving rhythms, changing chords, and tight harmonies. There was no way he could ever master the boys at Rusty’s place, but it was fun trying.
Well there Zeke was one Saturday tapping his toe along with Rusty and his buddies playing There is a Fountain faster than bumble bees heading for heap of rotten apples. Zeke nearly fell headlong over the fence.
Rusty and the boys couldn‘t help but notice, They played just as good for one person as they could a thousand. And if that one really liked it, they could dial it up a notch or two. Zeke was getting their best.
“Hey, son,” Rusty called out to Zeke. “I know ya’ll play, cause I here ya tunin’ up in your garage. Ya ain’t half bad.”
“That means I ain’t half good,” Zeke said.
“Well grab your guitar and hop on over the fence and pick and grin with us for a spell,” Rusty said.
“I ain’t anywheres good enough to play with you guys,” Zeke said.
There must have been near a dozen musicians swing there arms like they were haling down a train. “Come on over.” “Jump on in where ya feel comfortable.” “We ain’t gonna bite ya.” “Give us a try.”
“Nah,” Zeke said. “I’d only embarrass myself. You guys are really somethin‘.”
“Why don’t you sit in with me and the boys and do a little pickin’?” Rusty said.
“I’m afraid I couldn’t keep of with the boys,” Zeke said. “I ain’t that good.”
“There’s no such thing as being better,” Rusty said. “There are some with just different styles, so pull up a chair and let us see if we can pull along beside ya..”
“I‘ll give it a try,” Zeke said. He ran in the house and grabbed his guitar. By the time he got to Rusty’s yard there was an empty chair waiting for him.”
“Start us out, Zeke,” Rusty said. “And we’ll jump in where we feel comfortable.”
Zeke tapped his foot to start the rhythm and started to strum a piece he’d been working on, Leather Britches.
The other musicians gently chimed in.
“I ain’t never felt so welcomed in my life,” Zeke called out.
“Keep a goin’, Zeke,” Rusty said. “We just done caught up with ya.”
When they were done for the day Zeke shook everybody’s hand and thanked them for inviting him to play with them. Everyone told him to come back next week.
“I don’t know if I can,” Zeke said.
“Ya better,” Rusty said. “This is like the mafia, once you’re in the only way out is death. We’ve done buried a bass player and two fiddlers.” Rusty smiled and winked.
“But you guys are just so good,” Zeke said.
“It’s like I said,” Rusty said. “Nobody’s better than anybody else, there’s just different styles. And if we have to slow down it bit it’s probably for our own good.”