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Banjo Boy

A year has passed. Maybe a little more. I think I can talk about it now…in a calm and reasonable manner. Last year, just before my birthday, HeWho asked me what I wanted for my birthday. Being a woman of a certain age and us being a couple with limited funds, my response was that I really didn’t need anything and that I didn’t think it was necessary that we exchange gifts anymore. My response was accepted valiantly with no argument and he returned his focus to his computer. Our desks are in extremely close proximity to each other. I work from home so I am pretty much on my computer what seems like 24-7 (at least my clients think so). I knew that he was spending an inordinate amount of time on his computer — something, I have to say, I am not comfortable with. I find it disconcerting when he is right there all the time. In fairness, he was doing nothing to disturb me from working. He wears headphones or earbuds to keep the sound to a minimum but occasionally it bleeds out into my ear space. What I heard was banjo music! That should have been my first clue.

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It really didn’t concern me. He had just shipped his banjo out to Kelowna, BC for his grandson Tristan.

Tristan

Tristan

Silly me. You see, HeWho is a lover of music and musical instruments. We have quite a collection of exotic musical instruments on display ranging from a Tamböa to a Djembé. There is even a Didgeridoo. None of them get played, although occasionally they get played with. Stringed instruments, however, seem to be his first love. Several years ago I gave him a Liberty Resonator guitar for Christmas. It was a thing of beauty. He gave it to his grandson, Eric, in Niagara Falls last year.

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Eric

Shortly after shipping the banjo out west to  Tristan in, he started hanging out at the local music store. I didn’t pay much attention as it was my busy time of year, work-wise. As long as he was amusing himself, I didn’t have to. I’m not sure when he actually brought the new guitar into the house. It was snuck in and discovered by me later. Once it was out in the open and he could discuss it there came the little hints. “It really isn’t what I wanted.” “It’s not a very good one.” “I don’t really like it.” Within a week the guitar was returned and replaced with a more expensive model. Fine. (Yes, that is the “fine” that only we women can issue and know that really, it is not fine.)  Now, did I mention how much time was being spent on the computer/internet? It got extremely intense for a while. I was getting really annoyed. Supper would go cold before he would come to the table. It would take him forever to get to something I asked him to do. I confess my patience was wearing thin. Then one day he played a video he wanted me to see.

At the time, it was one of those “That’s nice, dear”, moments and I went back to work. Every day, mention was made of the banjo in the video and stories were told. Every day he would have to remind me, “You know, I showed you the video”. The penny finally dropped…about an hour before the UPS guy showed up at the door.

NEW GUITAR

Oh, yeah. He bought it. The rest of the day went kind of like this…

“Just because I said I didn’t want anything for my birthday didn’t mean that you were supposed to buy yourself something!”

“You just spent a small fortune shipping the banjo you already had out west!”

“Why didn’t you just keep the one you had?”

It went on and on but even I can’t remember the full rant of my rage.  It was weeks before I even found out how much it cost. Of course, once he had it, we also had to get a special case for it. We drove to Aurora to Rickard Banjos to pick up a case. This was probably the first time I actually looked at the new banjo. Dang! It was beautiful. All of the luthiers made a fuss over it. They are really great guys and their work is amazing. But there was no way I was going to confess to HeWho how beautiful I thought his banjo was or how much I enjoyed the visit to Rickard Banjos. After all, I only went so he wouldn’t buy anything else.

The following week I thought HeWho was feeling sorry for me because I had broken my toe the night before. He wanted to take me into Toronto for a “concert”. The concert turned out to be two guys set up in a really tiny music store playing…you guessed it…banjos. I sat on a really uncomfortable, rickety stool for a couple of hours with my foot throbbing. After it was over I found out that one of the guys was the person who HeWho was signing up for lessons with. And therein lies the rub. You see, HeWho doesn’t actually play. He loves the banjo, the music and the backroom stories the players have to share. He just doesn’t play.

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Our road trip this winter took us to a rest stop in Virginia. As I got out of the vehicle I heard the banjo music playing and saw the sign. I said, “It looks like we’ve stumbled upon your people.” He grinned from ear to ear.

A year has passed and I am still waiting to hear some banjo music from my Banjo Boy.

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There are a lot of reasons that we load the car full of empty water jugs whenever we trek home to Niagara Falls. We’ve been buying our water from Rainbow Water in the Falls for many years. Of course when we started, we lived in Niagara Falls. In fact, we lived just around the corner from the 8201 Lundy’s Lane location. It is a small family-run business, which we like to support. Jack Ewin, his wife (Inga) and daughter (Sherry) are naturals at customer service and are some of the nicest people we have ever met. One thing they always have for us is a smile, a warm greeting and a kind word. There are other things as well. Things you might not expect.

A few months ago we walked in and there were balloons everywhere.  It seems they are now the go-to-place for all kinds of specialty balloons. It happened to be Valentine’s Day and we were on our way to see Paul’s daughter and grandchildren.  We left the store with some pretty cool helium-filled balloons that Trish and the kids loved.

Another surprise you might happen upon is music. Live music. A jam session!  Any number of people can be there (once there were 14) playing any number of instruments, including banjos, acoustic guitars, mandolins, a bass guitar and a dobro to name just a few. Some of the musicians have been dropping by for years, but the afternoon sessions seem to be picking up steam because on our last visit we ran into a first timer, guitarist Lonz Crawford.

Jack Ewin • Don Scott • Cally Scott • Lonz Cranford

While it’s a lot of fun to listen and enjoy the music, but the real surprise comes when the young lady of the gathering stands up and begins to sing ― she has the voice of an angel and can take my breath away.  Cally Scott has been singing since she was eight.  She was 12-years-old when she first sang in public at her grandmother’s school reunion. Cally says she still follows advice her grandmother gave her that day. “If you get scared, just look up at the sky.” She has no formal training but learned to sing listening to CD’s and practicing with her talented father, Don Scott. Don joins Cally at Rainbow Water, accompanies her on guitar and gets in a few vocals himself.  He’s been entertaining people since he was eight and in 1965, at the ripe old age of 12, opened a concert for Hank Snow. More recently, he’s had guest spots with another local boy, multiple Grammy Award winner Walter Ostenak.

And the music goes even deeper into the proverbial genes: Cally says that both her grandfathers were musical and that her grandmother was also a huge influence.  On this particular visit we were treated to Cally’s vocal stylings of Patsy Cline’s Cry If I Want To, Loretta Lynn’s You Ain’t Woman Enough and two of Leann Rimes songs, Commitment and my favourite, Blue.

Here is the video I took with my phone.

Cally and her Dad share something else besides their love of music. They both have a genetic disorder that leaves them with very little sight. Cally was born with cataracts and the surgery she had for them led her to develop glaucoma. They are both monitored regularly and although the numbers can vary, Don has a slightly higher percentage of vision than his daughter.  Still, neither one of them let it interfere with their music.

Don & Cally Scott

Of course Jack sits in with his guitar when he’s not taking care of customers. Most, however, would rather hang around a bit and enjoy the gathering. My Paul gets tears in his eyes whenever there’s a song being sung. Or, it could be because Jack has his eye on his precious dobro.

Jack Ewin – Owner and Host of Rainbow Water

If you have a thirst for some classic country entertainment, stop by Rainbow Pure R.O. (reverse osmosis) Water at 8201 Lundy’s Lane at Kalar Road in Niagara Falls. This is no ordinary water store. The least you will come away with is some really great water, a warm smile and some friendly conversation. And you might just luck out and hear the voice of an angel. Tell em’ I sent you!

RAINBOW PURE R.O. WATER

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