Before & After

Shared by: Reed Martin

It was at the North Georgia State Folk Festival. A friend was invited as a performer, and I was the driver. At that time I was working in a machine shop in Sparks, Maryland. We were making nose cones for missiles to be used in Vietnam, so I had a draft deferment.... I had a choice...1. Keep my job and be safe from the draft and death in Vietnam 2. Quit my job and drive the Georgia Sea Island singers and my friend to Unicoi State Park and the 1st Annual (?) Georgia State Folk Festival.

So I quit my job and my parents went crazy. "How will you pay us room and board?" was their main concern. I drove to Washington, D.C., changed cars, and two of us headed for Georgia. We picked up 3 people and headed for Unicoi State Park. I had never seen the red clay of Georgia. It was an eye-opener. Never even been in Georgia before. Got to the festival and who was there but Dock Boggs.

He was very proper and well dressed, as always. There was a workshop with banjo styles being discussed. He was playing up-beat and happy tunes. It was a hot day and somebody was passing around a bottle of something. A little later, after a sip or two, Dock played another tune. WOW - what a difference the sips had made.

The banjo tuning went into blues mode, and out came the dark side of Dock Boggs. I had never before seen it happen. Dock would be Mr. Happy and play in the major keys - someone would offer him a drink or two, and BOOM - the bottom would fall out, and into the blues he would go. Forever after, when I was around Dock, I could predict what would be his mode by paying attention to whether he had had a drink beforehand. I never met another banjo player who had two banjo personalities - before the bottle (happy) and after the bottle.

Reed Martin     January 23, 2003

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