Friday, October 22, 2010

Mr. Ponton

My contact list for Watseka-oriented emails usually only includes Watsekans. Today, I've included some non-Watsekans; my musical friends and relatives.

Today’s lesson is a pretty cool! It’s about Mr. Lee Ponton of Papineau,  Iroquois County, Illinois.  Here's a link:

There are lots of folks here in Central Iowa who are just like Mr. Ponton. They are incredible!

Mr. Ponton’s affection for his Gibson ES 330 reminds me about one of the greatest nights of my life (thanks Woody!). I played a gentleman’s 330 when I sat in with a bunch of guys like this in a barn in Southern Iowa. The old timer who owned it traded guitars with me for a while. He said his 330 was the only guitar for him (Mr. Ponton calls his “my partner”).

A few things about Mr. Ponton's history jumped out at me:

First, he uses his gifts to serve others: "I made a vow then to use my music to help people and I've done it for the last 50 years." How cool is that?

Second, the story has nearly all the elements of the perfect country and western song.* Read the story. There are references to: mom (slamming the piano on Mr. Ponton’s hands for rockin' in the house); prison (the guy killed his best friend, what was he like to casual acquaintances?); drinking ("crocked"); trains ("Bill's Depot" - likely a bar - but close enough); and trucks (a country song about truck driving!).

Third, Mr. Ponton won’t fix the worn out neck on his guitar because: “Everyone of those holes represent a time, place and person in my life." I bet/hope every one of you has something like that.  I bet it isn’t the most expensive thing you own.

To Iroquois County natives: From a historical and sociological perspective, isn’t it proper that “Waylon Jennings" and "Bud and Swede's" appear in the same article?

Marilyn, this is further evidence that my affection for drop D tuning and outlaw country music comes from much more than drinking water from a horse trough.


* Surely you've all heard the famous verse from "You Never Even Call Me By my Name" by Steve Goodman (with credit to David Allan Coe).