In the wake of our Merle’s death, we woke Friday morning with an unassailable need to jump in the vehicle and drive to Moose Jaw for the day to see Tex. With an impressive resumé spanning over 60 years in the industry, Tex Emery and I bonded through our mutual friendship with my band mate Steve Leidal. Being introduced backstage at Gateway Music Festival in Bengough, SK, led to using my position with the Saskatchewan Country Music Association to see him recognized with the 2015 Legends and Legacy award in which I was honoured to present. I’d regulate evening phone calls to hear more about his time spent with Chet Atkins, Bob Wills, Gene Autry, Wilf Carter and Hank Snow, escapades with Hee Haw’s Grandpa Jones, and musings about the state of country music. As Tex puts it: “There were only three pedal steel players in Canada, some guy in Vancouver, some guy in Halifax, and me.” I believe him.
Tex will pull you in with his charm to find you quickly developing a fond care for his well-being and a need to have hours fly by in his presence. Bryce, Steve and I through the guitars in the van and headed off for the day. We picked Tex up and went for a coffee where he wooed the waitresses and held hands with the female construction workers on their lunch breaks. Back at the house we listened to his recordings that went as far back at the 50’s to as recent as last year. He booted up computer, where as an 86 year old man is just learning home recording so he can receive files from afar, do his thing, and fire’em back down the line. Forget his back catalogue, Tex is out-composing and recording all of us in the scene, combined. We jammed some Ray Price as he slinked around on his steel in his sun-room addition where he checks in on Bonnie by poking is head in the bedroom window that once gave way to fresh outside air.
Our visit saw it’s end immediately following an hour so of jamming out standard only to get interrupted by Tex pulling out vinyl of Hal “Lone Pine” Breau and priding the mono recordings.
“Listen how simple that is boys. Mark my word, it’ll all come around again. People will go crazy for it. Mark my word.”
Another hour later, Bonnie snapped a few pictures, hugs handed out, and we we headed back to Regina.
Having spent the the previous night two-stepping to Regina indie-rockers Rah Rah’s alter-ego (truly impressive and raw) country group, The Alley Dawgs (mouthful, I know), I must have totalled five quick hours of sleep. Paired with the 6 strip chicken dinner at Moose Jaw’s Deja Vu, I started to head-bob around Pense, SK. Powering through, I got home and hit the hay, sleeping until supper.
Rested, I woke to find that the band-date continued without me and the boys received a call from our friend Buzz down at Sawchyn Guitars on Dewdney…and not just any call, but an urgent one of excitement.
“You’ll never guess what Bryce and I did this afternoon” said Steve
“You guys went skateboarding and hit up some slurpees”
“Nope – we played Roy Nichols’ guitar.”
“What do you mean you played Roy Nichols’ guitar?”
Roy Nichols wiki reads as follows:
‘Roy Nichols (October 21, 1932 – July 3, 2001) was an American country music guitarist best known as the lead guitarist for Merle Haggard for more than two decades. He was known for his guitar technique, a mix of fingerpicking and pedal steel-like bends, usually played on a Telecaster.’
Gifted by Roy himself to a Regina resident via Kelowna, complete with letter of authentication, free of any obligations, the 1952 Telecaster found its way into the guitar shop of Peter Sawchyn. Up for sale.
En route to Winnipeg we stopped back in at Peter’s this morning to closer share in the Universe unfolding.
I refer to it as synchronicity.
Belle and Bryce covered some Merle.