Tue. Aug. 21, 2012 – Nashville

When we get to the club – The Marathon – they’re just loading out a car show and there are still a few oil slicks on the floor. There’s an SUV ‘cutout’ in the middle of the huge room – looks like someone took a metal chain saw and carved out parts of the car so you can see the inside the engine, the cabin – like those anatomy drawings that show below the skin.

Nashville Load-in

The club looks to be in an old industrial complex that sits on the edge of a small semi-gated community.  When I try to walk a few blocks away, I run into a metal gate and have to sideswipe a few blocks to get onto a thoroughfare, where I find a tiny Haddox Rx Drug store with 2-for-a-dollar travel toothpaste and a hole-in-the-wall Mediterrannean restaurant with some of the freshest tabouli I’ve tasted, fresh-and-not-overly-gooey baklava and great vegetarian stuffed grape leaves.

At the Haddox, they give me an old carrying sack with a pink ribbon – looks like something a school-girl would carry on her way to 4th grade, and I feel like a kid walking back to the club with my goodies.


Before the show today I have to change a string that broke last night, which was a big surprise to me because I’d changed the whole set just before the show and harp strings – I thought – last at least 4-5 months – at least, mine always have. They’re carbon fibre, they’re tough and you don’t want to change harp strings too often – One: because it’s an unbelievably tedious task and Two: it usually takes at least 3-4 days to get the harp back to playing in pitch. Not something there’s time for on a tour like this.  But changing one string isn’t a big deal and it’s a high one I don’t play often, and I can retune it during the show.

During sound check I realized why this particular string broke: it’s the main note of a heavily distorted solo I play together with Steve, so I really lean into bending it, I also notice one of the levers is loose again.  So after sound check I up-end the harp in the dressing-room, pull out my handy made-by-a-fan tightening tool and discover … the screw is GONE.  Despite tightening it each night, it has somehow come loose and fallen out!

Tired but successful! Harp saved! Jaret & me backstage at the Marathon Music Works in Nashville. (Notice the collage of Les Paul in the background)

These screws are tiny-tiny-TINY.  I sit there thinking “How am I going to do this???” and wishing I had a trained baby monkey – because her fingers could maybe hold the screw and find a way to get it in the hole.

I’m about to bash my head into the floor when Jaret, the guitar tech, walks in, gets very calm, takes the srew-driver, the harp and the minute screw and I run on stage, get the backup harp and start tuning it when Sean Kellet (Steve’s Assistant) knocks on the door and says “Beverly’s asking for you on stage” (opening act Beverly McClellan has invited me to join her on stage tonight – one of my big treats of the night) and I’m about to say, “I just can’t do it – my harp is broken,” when Jaret yells “Got it!,” I jump up strap the harp on and run onstage.

MY HERO: Jaret Mangus!!!!!

To read more in the Rock Harp Diaries, go to: https://hipharp.com/blog/category/rockharp-diaries/

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