Finding Django

Django
By reynold d. philipsek

I was busy whispering a detailed explanation of Schopenhauer’s Philosophy of the “Will” into the eager ear of a young lady in the backseat of my 56′ Ford when it happened. Believe me, it took quite a jolt to disengage my attention at that exact moment. After all, I was only 18 years old and my red corpuscles were pounding out four to a bar like Gene Krupa in overdrive. But even through the steamed-up windows it was clear to see. I was in love.

“What is that?” I shrieked as I jumped into the front seat and turned up the volume of the car radio. “Who is that guitar player? I love it.”

When the song ended the CBC (Canadian Broadcast Corporation) announcer proclaimed it was Jango Rinehart. I searched through the glove box to find a pen or pencil to jot down the name.

The very next day I piloted my Ford 70 miles due south to a section of Minneapolis known as Dinky Town to rummage through the record bins.

An indolent clerk peered up from his intense perusal of a catalog displaying every model and type of hookah known to civilization just long enough to correct me on the name with a condescending sneer. “The name is spelled like this,” he said, as he scrawled Django Reinhardt onto a coffee-stained napkin.

Armed with several Django records, I began my study of his fretwork. The music was a bit old-timey for my taste at that time and songs like “The Sheik of Araby” didn’t exactly turn my crank but the guitar playing was unlike anything I had ever heard.

There are watershed moments in every life and this was one for me. To say Django influenced my music would be complete understatement. I still listen to him daily and play his music every week. All these years later, I can’t even remember the girl’s name.

A Lifelong Love of Music

My mother was a very keen music fan. Even in my pre-school years I remember listening to her records with her on her tiny Hi-Fi set. She collected 45 RPM 7 inch singles. In those days the “singles” had picture sleeves which added to the fascination for me. Her favorites were Hank Williams (Senior, that is, not his less talented offspring) and The Everly Brothers.
I developed a sort of record buying fixation and I would convince her to purchase a new record every week. This was a big thrill to me. We would walk down to Red Owl each week and I would scour their small record rack. Red Owl was a grocery chain but the store two blocks from our house had magazines and records as well.
I got my first guitar at the age of six and this interest in recorded music only intensified.
I so wanted to make records that I would ask my mother to write my name on the label of a record (one I was less fond of) just to see what my name would look like on a recording.
My career choice was thus made at a very tender age. This is probably inadvisable but my passion was pretty intense and those embers still have some glow left.
I have since made and played on many records including 45s, LPs, cassettes, CDs and MP3’s.

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