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Mike Auldridge Tribute

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Jul 7, 2018 - 7:09:27 AM
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59 posts since 4/26/2013

Jul 7, 2018 - 7:52:26 AM
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97 posts since 8/25/2014

Thanks for posting. My fav was the Jimmy Rodgers song at 5:15.

Dec 10, 2018 - 5:19:57 PM
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57 posts since 3/10/2015

Hope you all don't mind - I'm going to gush Mike Auldridge. If you are my age and have been playing the reso as long as i have, you have a MA story too I imagine. Here's mine.
My silent mentor for so many years. In 1973 I attended a rather liberal high school in VT. One of the student teachers from Goddard College next door, brought his entire record collection to the school's 10W radio station to get the place going. I was a DJ for a little while. Among the records I discovered the "Tacoma" record, you know the brown one with Mike's iconic regal Dobro on the cover. I stole it and the next month bought an OMI Dobro that by luck just happened to be hanging on the wall at a local music store. I proceeded to attempt to learn every tune on that record. I continued to play through college and eventually did it for a living after graduating. My brother and I performed as a duo. He'd play banjo and I'd play guitar or we would trade off, and I'd play dobro and he'd play guitar. Anyway, sure got in lotta woodshedin' making meager bucks, playing four nights a week for about two years. Developed my right hand for sure. Eventually I took up pedal steel guitar and was quite successful locally as a weekend warrior for many years while working a straight job as well, electrical engineering.
Let's zoom ahead to about 2000. I attended the St Louis International (because a couple foreign guys played) Steel Guitar convention. Standing at a merch table and thumbing through a dobro instructional book, my wife said to me, "Jim, there's Mike Auldridge!" I kept turning the pages of the book thinking I'd missed something, when she blurted out, "no he's right beside you!". I introduced my self and we hit it off to the point Mike and I spent most of the next three days together. I informed him I occasionally played lap steel in a modern country band and would crank up the distortion and play Mike Auldridge" licks. He said "funny, that's what I do too.
This was the year John Hughey was inducted into the steel guitar hall of fame and Vince Gille showed up to promote him, John being in the band and all. A good friend of mine also named John was in attendance tool and knew Mikes A's music as well. John Braybant was a rather forward guy and suggested Mike and I join him sitting down front on the floor of the stage to watch Buddy Emmons. This convention was historically rather stuffy.....nobody...I mean nobody ever sat down in front of the stage to the shegrin of the old folk who got there days ahead to grab the precious front row seats (behind us). Mike, being the shy polite guy said "no I can't do that".
So John B and I went down there anyway ignoring the nasty looks from the folks. Well, we were there about three minutes when all of a sudden a guy, Vince Gille, tapped us on the shoulder and said, "you mind if I sit here too?" Well this started something. First, three of the cutest women joined us. That was enough for Mike A. He wondered down too, all of us sitting indian style and really enjoying the Big E. This started a movement of sorts and pretty soon there were about 30 people with us.
Mike and I coincidentally even had the same flight on the way back to the East coast sitting beside each other in assigned seats by coincidence. He has some great stories.
When I got home I sent Mike a live CD I was on, whereby I was the only accompanist in a trio. Mike wrote back to me complimenting my playing talking specifics. He sounded sincere anyway. He sent me a real letter in his beautiful cursive handwriting, something not so common in the age of email. Mike was also a graphic artist BTW.
Later that year he showed up locally with a band, Chesapeake. Mike was playing pedal steel by now. He spotted me right off in the audience and waved hi. Later on he told me he had trouble playing as he was intimidated by my presence.....What? Come one Mike.... that can't be!
Zoom ahead to a few years ago - John B and I decided we'd got to Mike's funeral in Maryland. It was quite a drive for us. It was the most amazing send off I had ever attended. All the Dobro greats were there. I spotted David Bromberg and relayed to him how much I enjoyed his guitar playing on the Tacoma record. He told me that record was originally supposed to be his but he was so blown away by Mike he convinced the label to make it a Mike Auldridge record.
How about that?
Anyway, I realized there were many people, Dobro players, in attendance with similar MA stories. I was not alone. Not only was he a Dobro pioneer, this humble talented man was a silent mentor for so many.
I apologize for the mighty wind folks. Had to get it off my chest.

Dec 10, 2018 - 5:43:22 PM

2542 posts since 7/27/2008

Great stories Jim!

The Takoma label (with a "k") was founded by the late great John Fahey in 1959. Mike's first solo album (Dobro) might still be my all-time favorite dobro-centric record.

On a different note, and involving Vince Gill and sitting down, the quote below is from the excellent obituary article on Mike published in the Washington Post by Eric Brace. It's hard to believe that it's close to six years already that  Mike left us:

"As the cancer spread, Mike talked about the frustration he felt as it became harder to do things he’d always done. In one of his last performances, earlier this year (2012) with Vince Gill at the Birchmere, Mike asked Gill if it would be okay to sit while he played. Gill called for six more stools onstage so the whole band could sit down that night. Although his body was giving out, Mike kept living life in a big way."

Link to the article:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/mike-auldridge-a-dobro-masters-resonant-work/2012/12/30/c2812474-52c9-11e2-a613-ec8d394535c6_story.html?utm_term=.a95df2539298

The way I heard it, after Mike asked if it would be okay if he could sit, Vince said something like, "that's a great idea - let's all sit." 

I'm a huge Vince guy - the man is a class act all the way. 

Edited by - MarkinSonoma on 12/10/2018 17:50:21

Dec 11, 2018 - 2:34:47 AM

57 posts since 3/10/2015

Hi Mark. Hope all is well. Oh yeh - Takoma with a k.
Vince has been one of my favorites for a long time as well. As you probably know, he has an affinity for good steel players. John Hughey's accompaniment on Vince's tune, "Look At Us" became the pedal steel guitar national anthem at one point. Damn if all my heroes aren't dead now though.
I personally prefer to sit when I play. In fact I recall developing a black and blue mark on my hip when I was standing, performing regularly and also wore off some paint on the back of my Dobro with my belt buckle.
I have a couple more MA stories I'll save for another time should we ever meet face to face.

Dec 11, 2018 - 3:02:29 AM

59 posts since 4/26/2013

Speaking of Vince Gill and epic steel breaks:

High On A Hilltop

Dec 11, 2018 - 4:27:49 AM

1888 posts since 8/5/2008
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Great story Jim. You can't beat good memories.

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