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Conner Combo

bluegrass jam
Tin Cup 1

I’ve often said that my favorite musical role would be as 3rd trombone in a big band. Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) gave me that opportunity while I lived in Nampa. It was lovely, but didn’t last nearly long enough.

My attempt to resurrect the Grangeville big band resulted in a nice little jazz combo where I had to play lead trombone and occasionally assist the tuba player with bass lines. Back down south I formed one and one-half combos in Kuna/Boise, again with me taking turns playing lead trombone.

Now happily planted in The Bitterroot for a year and a half I spent one summer as 3rd trombone in a community band, but it was elementary band music, not the swing or jazz I treasure and was an hour drive each way for practices and performances. I have made several attempts to at least get little combo going with my trombone a part of it, but nothing has worked yet.


I have donated a lot of time publicizing and teaching amateur radio to help others become licensed radio operators. My most recent session in the Darby Library was populated by one Snow Bird who was flying south the next week and two guys who lived less than a mile from me in Conner.

This turned out to have wonderful payback – one good deed of mine that is now being continually rewarded.

The Ezzells host a blue grass jam session every Thursday evening and invited me to come on down. I did that once, twice, thrice, and on. Mostly in jest, they told me I can’t keep sitting on the couch, but needed to pick up an instrument and join the playing.

Going back to my NNU days, I did sit in a “master class” where the visiting bass player drew me in like a moth to flame. I determined then that if I were ever to play anything besides trombone, it would be a bass.

Since upright basses are so expensive, I compromised shortly after that with an electric bass guitar. That gear and I never did hit it off. Over a four year period, I have handled it numerous times, but never did make any sounds that pleased me… never had a feeling of Zen with that instrument.
Back to last week….

THEN I picked up the bass lying on the floor at the jam session November 20th.
This bass with no frets and no guides (like no valves, no keys trombones, by the way) was kind of easy for me to play. I fooled with it quietly in the kitchen while the experienced musicians played bluegrass in the living room.

I thought I was real quiet, but a couple of guys heard me and suggested I bring my act into the living room.
Not yet … but soon.
bass comes home

Scanning ads in Montana, Idaho, California, Oregon and Washington, Missy found ONE 3/4 bass advertised on Craigslist – for $850 in Meridian, Idaho. I broke open the cookie jar. We called friends in Boise. I checked the weather prognostications, and were on the road to Idaho Sunday morning.

The bass sounded great to me. They let it go to a new home for $800. I left my bass guitar setup with our Boise friends for disposition – I’ll recover some of my costs some day.

Of course I started playing around with it immediately. Much to my pleasure and amazement, It is easy for me to play. The notes come rather naturally to me. It sings my song.

I played some with my Boise host’s guitar, strummed quietly by myself and even while having quiet conversations. Such a pleasant, peaceful sound. Oh, and we all find it to be a very attractive work of art just sitting still.

Thus begins a new relationship with music.