The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Tommy Wells
Seward Phoenix LOG 

Tune in to the sound of real performers


September 21, 2017 | View PDF

As I have been trying to accomplish a life-long dream to learn the play the guitar, I find myself admiring those people who have actual musical talent.

Back in the day (which is an old-school way of saying “a long time ago”), She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Made-Mad and her sisters all used to perform in a church choir. Although I never heard them in the church, I have had the pleasure of hearing them harmonize a bit here and there. Please don’t let this get out because I really don’t want SWMNBMM or her sisters to get a big head, but they are pretty decent.

As for me, I have been practicing for about a year on the guitar and have learned to play two songs. Hey, I’m old … it takes me a long time to get from Point A to Point B. Besides, I only need to play two sings to impress the sisterly singers. Growing up, they were from a town so small, they just got radio waves last month. So any guy who can make music is like a god to them …

Which pretty much describes me. If you think I’m kidding, you would be mistaken. For your information, every time I say something to SWMNBMM, she rolls her eyes like a schoolgirl in love and says “Oh, god ...”

Let me clarify something right now so the pastor doesn’t call me and chew me out or the Big Guitarist in The Sky doesn’t snap my strings. I am just a god .. not the God. And I spend hours telling my wife and her family of this difference. Really, I do.

Anyway, I admit it is a bit early in my year to be compared to Stevie Ray Vaughn or Eddie Van Halen, but I’m working at it. Slowly …

With that in mind, I want to take a moment to let all three of the people who read my column know about some young up-and-coming musicians who are really, really talented. In my career, I have had the opportunity to go all over the U.S. and see some of these really talented people – from athletes to musicians. Years ago, there was a young guitarist named Mickey Moody from our hometown in Strawn, Texas (population 670), who went on to play guitar professionally for the likes of country stars Shane Brooks and Janie Fricke. Mickey traveled the world performing in large venues before eventually marrying my niece and then giving up his career to be closer to their daughter, Sheena (who, incidentally, is known as “Sheener-Beaner” by everyone in our clan). (Yikes! You three readers do me a favor and forget you read that last part. Sheena hasn’t been called “Beaner” since her high school days.)

The next artist I want to tell you about is a young lady from Wickliffe, Kentucky, who can sing birds out of the trees. I kid you not, Amanda Benson is one of the best performers I have ever heard. It wouldn’t surprise me if one day she is singing with the likes of Garth and Florida Georgia Line. Now, I wouldn’t tell you this if I weren’t able to back it up—well, actually, I might in most cases, but this isn’t one of those stories. I’m not kidding, Mandi is good—even though she had to survive being raised by a hillbilly momma … rest easy, Lisa Turner, I’m not going to mention your name.

Just in case anyone thinks I’m being mean to Lisa, you should know I consider her one of my closest friends on this planet. No, that’s not quite it. She’s like my sister from another mister.

Anyway, back to Mandi. If you want to see one of the country’s undiscovered stars, I encourage you to call up the Kentucky Opry web site and search for her. I’m pretty sure you’ll be amazed because she is the bee’s knees. Give credit where credit is due, though … her father, Dale, had to work hard to help her overcome her mother’s hillbilly background

Today, Mandi is working for a couple of radio stations (WKYQ and Willy 102) in the Paducah area. This last weekend, she performed at the Indian Festival.

Another musician who has impressed me is my youngest son, Bobby. A former high school football star, Bobby picked up the guitar one day and has taught himself to be a really good player. He has even been helping me to expand my song list, although we’re still, as I said, on number two.

Although he spends most of his time trying to free Mario from whoever the latest craze in the video world is, if you ever get a chance to hear him play the guitar, you should. He and my older son, Bubba, once performed as a duo in a college talent show and probably would have won if they had chosen to take it seriously. They performed two songs, including their opener of “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker. To finish off their set they exhibited some trademark humor and performed “Frozen.”

You can probably guess they got a lot of smiles and laughs from the college crowd. I believe they finished fourth in the final standings of the event.

They’re both talented in ways that they certainly never got from me.

As for me, well, I thought I was playing “Bad Moon Raising” well enough to sound like Creedence Clearwater Revival. But I played it for SWMNBMM last week and she said I sounded like a cat in distress.

When I heard the recording I made I was pretty sure I’d be keeping my day job.

(Tommy Wells is the editor of the Seward Phoenix LOG. Everything in this column is true, except for the parts that have been fabricated, exaggerated or are just plain lies.)


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