This is really a story about a guitar.
But, I’ll start here….
Last night I was going through some old records and found a special one titled
“Timbercreek – Hellbound Highway”.
This LP is a recording of my late Uncle’s band in all its 1975 Glory.
I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with Uncle Frank as he died when I was seven. But, I do remember him patiently attending to my interest in guitar and fueling my desire to be a singer songwriter. I recall years of Uncle Frank playing guitar as the family sang Christmas songs on Christmas Eve. And, I have fond memories of fishing with him.
Most of all though, over time when I pick up this ’52 Martin Guitar that we hold in common… I’m proud to be forwarding a musical legacy left unfinished in this family.
Gummersall legend has it that my Grandfather found “said instrument” at a garage sale and bought it for fifteen dollars. Not knowing, or perhaps not caring, that it was probably worth some dough, he engraved with a nail “To Frankie G Happy Birthday Dad C M Gummersall 1972” on the wooden guitar…
the “said guitar” turns out to be a valuable 1952 Martin 00-18G Nylon String Guitar like the one that Willie Nelson has made famous over the years (Willie fondly named his Trigger & as an amplified nylon string guitar, it has a sound that is pretty uniquely known in the music world).
My Uncle Frank played many bars and other venues with that guitar over the years. And, like me, he spent many hours with this special guitar while writing many, many, songs. I can only imagine what this cherished guitar was doing for the previous 20 years before it was given to him. And, If only it could talk, I’d be able to hear the great history of my Uncle opening for the Grateful Dead, playing Biker Bars, and playing his heart out for all that would listen. Pursuing the tough route of a singer songwriter while resisting a move to the city was a challenge he faced. Uncle Frank scratched an encouraging engraving of his own into the wood of the guitar:
“Just Looking For A Miracle.”
He taught himself to play left handed by listening to the radio, and playing left handed meant that he had to hold the guitar “upside down” compared to a right handed player. As you can see from the photo, the wear on the top is from him, and on the bottom is from me (there is no “pick guard”).
My Uncle died young, and at the time of his passing I hadn’t been taking guitar lessons for very long. So, my Grandma held on to the Martin as it is an important family artifact. But, after proving I was going to stick with music, I was bestowed the honor that is now, my 1952 Martin Guitar.
Since then, this special guitar has traveled with me, written many songs with me and been my faithful partner through many a performance. It will also accompany me (along with my mentor’s amazing 1945 Martin D28) on my solo acoustic album that I’m working on now.
And, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world!