Thursday, April 5, 2012
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
In the short time I knew Rod I was privileged to be included in a few of his trips. Whenever I was around Rod and his family I was family.
My family was invited to go to Kentucky and see where Rod’s wife Helen had grown up. The beauty of the land and the people down there still affect me.
I took some pictures that up until now I had forgotten to post. Enjoy them. They bring back some great memories for me.
Monday, June 1, 2009
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Sunday, February 22, 2009
If anyone has any old photos, thoughts or recordings of Rod let me know. This will take a lot of work but will be worth it.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
TomTom took me down a dirt road and announced, "You have reached your destination!" I stopped and I was nowhere. I got out and took three pictures of the side of the road. I just combined them into a panorama. As you can see I wasn't quite near civilization.
I ambled up to the cabin and was surprised by how many people were there. I only knew a few but knew that by the time I'd left I'd have many friends. Not surprising, Nick was set up playing music with a bunch of guys. I found out that many of them had been in bands with Rod in the old days. Each were marvelous musicians and I spent a lot of time just watching them play.
There was lots of food and lots of stories of Rod. I didn't know he was a professional wrestler when he was young. Of course, I forget that I only knew him for the last year of his life. It's hard to believe that kind of friendship could be forged so fast.
Later in the day a ceremony was held where a minister said a few words and then Nick scattered Rod's ashes. Then the men fired off a few rounds with their rifles. When they finished there wasn't a dry eye for quite a distance. When the ceremony was over there was a solemn silence that lasted for a long while.
Nick went back to leading the music and I walked around listening to stories about a young Rod. I would have loved to have known him as a young man.
Just as dusk was approaching Nick took a group of us up to the peak of a mountain across the way and we looked down over the valley. The view was breathtaking.
We went back to the cabin and sat by the fire for a while. My cold was getting worse and I decided to head home. It was a little over a two hour ride and I was tired. Today had been a fitting tribute to Rod. It had been about music, stories and family. I hope we do it every year.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Monday, January 7, 2008
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Last night around 5pm my good friend and banjo instructor Rod Veverka died. I've been expecting it for a couple weeks but it's still hard to take.
I started playing banjo back in 2006 and was lurking around a website called The Banjo Hangout. Rod had a post offering lessons in an old time style of banjo playing called Clawhammer (or frailing). I gave him a call and set up a lesson for the next day.
Because of my upbringing and general incompetence I got lost in Medina. I had to call Rod and have him guide me to his house. When I told him what I did for a living he let out a loud belly laugh. When I got out of the car at his house I heard the prettiest song I'd ever heard on a banjo, it was an old Revolutionary War son, Johnny Has Gone For a Soldier. I didn't know that a banjo could sound like that.
The lesson was held in a cluttered garage and he asked me to show him what I knew. I had been studying the style from a DVD that I got from Parick Costello. I also devoured his book The How and Tao of Old Time Banjo.
I showed Rod the basic clawhammer bum-ditty and played the couple of songs that I knew and he told me I was off to a fine start. Then he played a bunch of songs, Flop Eared Mule, Rock About My Saro Jane, and Sail Away Ladies. I had never heard any of the songs and it was hard to believe that there was just one person playing. I watched his right hand and it was like it wasn't even moving. Then his son Nick came out and played guitar with him, wow. I play guitar but nothing like Nick.
Rod then gave me a song to learn and I left feeling like I'd been in a wind tunnel. I wasn't sure if I could do it.
I went home and worked on what he told me and went back a week later. Rod was encouraging and each one our lesson always went on closer to three. I improved steadily and each week along with playing music he would tell me about the hills and culture of his home. Rod was part Native American and was anxious to expose me to their culture too. He taught me about guns, local archeology, Indian Mounds, and old time banjo.
As the lessons progressed Rod would take me to jam sessions in Homerville, Lafayette and Bellsville. The main rooms were always bluegrass but there were always a couple of rooms where clawhammer and old time was being played. In those rooms Rod was a star.
A couple of months ago Rod invited my family down to Eastern Kentucky to see the hills and where his wife's family is from. I had never been anywhere like this and when we weren't playing music we were exploring the small surrounding towns. I took the family to a gingerbread festival in Knott County.
Around Halloween we invited the whole family over and Rod and Nick played music for a couple of hours. The entire time I just sat there with a grin on my face. I played a couple of songs but mostly it was Rod and Nick. I videotaped the entire time and plan to convert it to dvd.
After that Rod cancelled a couple lessons saying he had the flu. Then he got colitis that kept getting worse. Eventually he was hospitalized and they couldn't stop the bleeding so they did exploratory surgery. They removed part of his colon and I had hopes that he would recover fully. I worried because he was diabetic. A couple days later he suffered a massive stroke and he never recovered.
When I first met Rod he told me his health wasn't good and that he wanted to pass his music on. I only knew Rod for nine months but it feels like I've known him my entire life. I learned so much from him and I'm grateful for the short time I've had.
Rod didn't want a funeral. Instead he is being cremated and there will be a jam session down at his cabin. There we will scatter his ashes. Rod was a kind and wonderful friend. He will be missed.