I remember a scrawny, little redheaded kid sitting on my porch step. He was twanging a pawnshop, electric guitar, while I worked my garden. I’d give him encouragement now and then. Jokingly I told him when you can play Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “I know a little,” you would be a guitar player kid.
He kept at it and a few seasons later he showed up with a few of the neighbor boys looking for a place to jam. The noise they made at first was excruciating. After a while we became accustomed to it.
As a young man he joined the Marines and he sent me pictures from afar, always with a guitar in hand.
When he returned he often would look me up and run a tune by me for my approval. I could barely play the radio but for some reason he thought my opinion was honest and worth something.
He performed at Frog Fest, as shy as I am I slow danced with my wife in front of thousands to his song.
I took him to a few open mike nights at the Colgate Inn; where he had no idea he was putting some in awe. He thought people were just drinking and not paying attention. I told him “you only need to connect with one, and that may change your world.”
I remember standing in line in the rain for several hours in Oneonta trying to get him on the TV SHOW “Make a Wish.” I had a CD of his and was trying to get Toby Keith’s record company to give him a look. They accepted the CD and shortly after, the show was canceled.
I used to brag that he could play everything from Garth Brooks to Pink Floyd and it was no lie. Sometimes at a gig I would nudge him to play something outa the norm ( Rock, metal or punk! ) He’d give me a grin and whisper “If I play that, Momma is gonna be pissed!” She was a country girl!
The red headed kid went on to be inducted into the New York State Country Hall of Fame and received a lifetime Achievement Award.
Though we had a few differences, I always believed in him, and to this day I am proud to be his biggest fan. A while ago he sent me this letter. He had been fighting cancer. He knew then what the outcome would be and being the man he was, he wanted to set the record straight. Tears run down my cheeks every time I read it…
Need to take a minute, just to say "thanks". It's a weird thing, but when I looked you up in my facebook account, you came up listed as a "friend". My first thought was,"Facebook, you don't know the HALF of it"! This man has been an influence in my life, for as long as I can remember! Knowing you has made me a better person, Uncle Jake. I know we've had our differences, but I wanted you to know... I think about you every time I pick up a guitar, that's the HONEST TRUTH. Dozens of songs I love, I remember hearing first at Uncle Jake's. I learned the value of hard work and practice from you. You taught me to play for ME first, and to make it the best I can, every time, then the audience will never be disappointed. You taught me that I could always come to your place if I was in trouble, but that my troubles have a way of finding me, anyways, so may as well deal with them, head-on. There were so many times, during my Marine Corps years, that you were the subject of conversations around the world! I told Uncle Jake stories in the desert, and in the snowy mountains of California! Many of my own songs either reference you, or mention you outright ("Wronged Ragged"), or borrow one of your phrases, like "Shift down, and git 'er"! I wish we talked more, I wish I could get out to see you more. I want you to know, I'm working toward that day! This is the toughest fight I've ever been in. Even I have to admit, there are some... dark days. Music, friends and family always get me through, though. Don't ever wonder, or doubt for even a second, whether or not you've made a difference in this world. You made a difference in ME, Uncle Jake, and that difference LIVES in me now. "Thank You" doesn't even come close, but I'll say it anyway. I love you, Uncle Jake. Thank you for staying true, to who and what you are!
Tim Carr is going to be missed by many. (Me included). By the way... He learned how to play “I Know A little,” just fine.