There are a few things I enjoy in life: driving on warm spring days with my windows down, March Madness, and bluegrass music. The last thing is an oddity of a male in my generation. Thinking back on my childhood and great memories in Cadiz, one place comes to mind. Even though the store is long gone, the sign is still attached and draws my eyes to that beige downtown building every time I pass it when I’m home from college. That guitar and banjo-clad building is where I spent many Saturdays as a child.
Jim’s Music store was a place to catch up, drink some coffee, but more importantly do a little pickin’ and grinnin’. I remember at about 9 years of age begging my mother for a guitar. Either the annoyance got to her or my grandmother talked some sense into her, but one day we drove downtown to that beige building to buy a guitar. Mr. Jim, as I remember, was a tall, slender man with a great sense of humor. He wanted to spread music to children and probably sold my first guitar to my momma at cost. I left there with a guitar, but more importantly I left with an invitation to come back and play music in one of the back rooms of his shop.
For a kid interested in music and free time on a Saturday between ABA basketball game days, the back rooms at Mr. Jim’s music store was the place to be. I would wake up at 8 o’clock, get mom to drive me to eat breakfast at Ferrell’s and head to that store, guitar case in hand. Those back rooms were nothing special on Sunday through Monday, but those Saturday mornings, magic was made on strings and jaw harps in those tall ceiling rooms.
My first couple of visits, I’d timidly sneak into the room and find a seat (if there was one available) and simply listen. The smell of fresh brewed coffee and a general calm and happy spirit was always in the air. Many times, 20 people would be in a room with barely space to fit another mandolin player, but the confined atmosphere never brought the mood down. The men and women in there played and sang, just going around in a circle taking turns on leads. When I say it was magic, I’m not exaggerating. Most of these people didn’t play together except for those Saturdays, but you’d never be able to tell from the quality of the music. Cripple Creek, Wildwood Flower, and Orange Blossom Special all rang out just like I’d imagine it would have from the Grand Ole Opry. Between songs, the talk consisted of UK and Trigg County basketball, politics and local happenings. Most people had different opinions when it came to those subjects, but they all could agree on one thing: the music.
I knew about three major chords and a minor chord on a good day and would play what I knew, but the people in there welcomed me to play the one song I did know – Guitar Bogie – often and would all join in to make it a masterpiece to be rivaled by Bach or Beethoven themselves. I don’t remember names of the people that I spent those Saturdays with, but wisdom and fun I gained there is with me.
My guitar is dusty and out of tune now and I couldn’t play a song if my life depended on it; however, I’ll always have the memories. That sign still shines on that old building and will continue to draw my stare as I drive by my hometown.