Dinner and a Jam at Scotty's

Scotty, Don Dean and Kim Boleyn

In July of 2003 a lot of us were in town (Nashville) for the summer NAMM show.  The NAMM show is a semi-annual convention for musical instrument manufacturers, distributors and merchants to showcase the new and current products.  This year Scotty attended for the first time in several years to visit some friends and to attend a meet and greet for fans.  My friend Ron Garson from the UK, here for the show, had met Scotty and Gail Pollock when they were there on tour in the UK last October.  While at the meet and greet at NAMM Gail invited us and several others to dinner at Scotty's that night.

Scotty and Don Dean

We got to his house early but the first ones there were their longtime friend Don Dean and his friend Kim Boleyn.  While Gail was still preparing the food we sat out back while Don checked out Scotty's Tal Farlow guitar.  Scotty's house is set on 20 acres of rolling hills and farm on the outskirts of Nashville, real peaceful.  Not long after, Mike Eldred pulled up with Donnie Wade and Art Thompson.  Scotty and Mike have been friends since the early 90's when Mike used to play with Lee Rocker in the band Big Blue.  Donnie, like Mike, works for Fender Musical Instruments and Art is a senior editor at Guitar Player magazine.  By then it was time to eat.

Art Thompson, Kim Boleyn, Don Dean, Scotty, Ron Garson and Jim Roy

Gail cooked us one heck of a home cooked southern fried chicken dinner.  I had been hearing about these famous chicken dinners of hers for sometime now from several of their friends but mostly from Mike.  She made the mistake of writing him up an I.O.U. "one chicken dinner" years ago and he's been riding on that since.  After that meal I can understand why.  Needless to say it was a real feast.  Mike and Donnie were required to sit at a separate table though (I did mention they worked for Fender).

Donnie Wade and Mike Eldred (at the Fender table)

After we ate we sat around and talked a bit.  It was fascinating listening to some of the stories that both Scotty and Don Dean told.  Scotty talked about some of the times driving to gigs in the early days with Elvis, Bill and DJ and how DJ spent the night circling St. Louis after replacing Scotty at the wheel around midnight.  They would take turns driving while everyone else slept and come morning Scotty woke up to find that they were parked by the side of the rode.  Asking DJ where they were DJ replied "Still in St. Louis".  He couldn't find his way off the beltway and wound up circling the city all night.  I don't think they let him drive again after that.

Don Dean, Donnie Wade, Mike Eldred, Art Thompson and Scotty

Scotty finally looked around the table and asked "You want to do some pickin?"  We all went into his studio and out came the guitars.  Scotty played his Chet Atkins, Don the Tal Farlow, Art played Scotty's 83 Super 400, Donnie the original Chet Atkins and Mike the Custom Shop Fender Esquire that he built for Scotty.  Gail kept asking me if I wanted one saying they had plenty.  I kept gracefully declining thinking that in that crowd it was like asking me to drive the Indianapolis 500 on a learners permit.

Donnie Wade and Mike Eldred


Scotty and Art Thompson

We all sat around and enjoyed it as they traded off licks playing a variety of shuffles and progressions.  At one point they all traded off leads playing Scotty's signature "Mystery Train" which caused Ron Garson to remark to me that he thinks he was the only one in the room that night that couldn't play it.  He had heard me playing it while trying a guitar at the show that day.  I found his remark surprising since when I started working on Scotty's website the year before he sent me the tablature and a CD for the song.  You think he would've learned it first. 

Art Thompson and Ron Garson

Art Thompson and Don Dean

I think at one point we all sat around amazed at Don Dean's playing.  He's from Kentucky and plays a lot on the style of Merle Travis pickin and was doing these rolls that Donnie Wade was saying is extremely difficult.  Don was doing it almost second nature effortlessly and when asked "How do you do that?"  He replied "Do what?"  Don's a big fan of archtops and Super 400's in particular.  He's done work for Scotty on his Super 400's and Gail told me he even built one from scratch.  Art and I bet that he's got a lot of good stories we'd like to hear.

Mike Eldred, Scotty, Gail Pollock, Art Thompson and Donnie Wade


Scotty and Jim Roy

I guess jams at Scotty's when he has guests is not an uncommon thing.  He even keeps a small amp next to the dinner table and likes to play there.  At one point Art put down the Super 400 and picked up Scotty's Epiphone.  That gave me the opportunity to pick up the Super 400 and try it out.  The guitar plays beautifully.  At some point in the future as memories fade, I'll be able to stretch the truth and say I jammed with Scotty Moore cause everyone will forget that I wasn't plugged in.

After the jam the night was coming to an end.  Mike and Scotty were in another part of the studio talking and Ron and I were trying out the Esquire.  Since I was the last one playing it I felt obligated to wipe it down and put it away.  In so doing I hit the switch tip and it went flying.  "Aw Crap!!" I thought, "I broke his guitar."  After a frantic search half expecting someone to come in thinking I was rifling the place I found the switch tip and put it back on just in time to hear Scotty yelling.  I thought I had been caught but apparently Mike had snuck into the kitchen and stolen the last piece of chicken that Gail had been saving for Thom Bresh

Mike steals the last piece of chicken

"This one was for you Bresh!"

It was a great night for all.  The meal was excellent, the people were real cool and the entertainment was great.  Its a night that I'll remember the rest of my life.  Of course with Mike stealing the last piece of chicken the night was pretty much over.  Scotty in his southern gentlemanly fashion showed us the door.

James V. Roy
August 20, 2003

Scotty shows us out

Ron Garson with friends at NAMM

I was fortunate enough to attend the summer NAMM convention in Nashville again, allowing me the pleasure of renewing old friendships and meeting new friends.  On Saturday afternoon I was talking with Jim Roy outside the Fender booth when he got a phone call from Gail to say that she and Scotty had arrived at the convention.  Jim turned to me and said, "I've been invited over to Scotty's for dinner... and so have you!"  Well, you could have knocked me over with a wet lettuce leaf on hearing that!  I think I mumbled something incomprehensible in reply, and off we set to catch Scotty's "Meet and Greet."

Scotty, don Dean and Kim Boleyn out back

When that was pretty much over, Gail came over to chat and she asked me if I was coming to dinner. I replied "Yes," before she'd even finished the question!  We left the show a little early and Jim and I set off for Scotty's place around 6:30. We found it easily due to the directions that Gail had given us.

Don Dean

Don Dean and Kim Boleyn were already chatting to Scotty when we arrived and we joined them out at the back of the house. I also got acquainted with the two dogs who were in residence. An old one, a bit gray around the muzzle just like myself, and a young dog who is totally blind, but gets about in the most amazing way. He constantly follows Gail around. There was much talk of guitars and Scotty fetched his Tal Farlow for Don to try out. It looked beautiful and Don could play it really well, but he didn't like the frets too much.

One of Scotty's tractors

Jim and I wandered off down to Scotty's barns to look at his tractors and then the others, Mike, Donny and Art arrived.  We got called in to dinner and sat down around a table that was piled high with mouth watering food.  There was a huge bowl of chicken, enough to feed an army, in the center of the spread. We ate all that we were able to, although it seemed that Mike couldn't get enough, as he returned for extra helpings several times!  Scotty told us tales about being on the road with Elvis and Bill and DJ and I was having to pinch myself just to make sure I wasn't dreaming.

Jamming in the studio

Then Scotty suggested that they play some and everyone moved to the studio. Guitars appeared magically and a jam commenced. Gail offered me a guitar too, but I declined.
The music flowed, licks were traded and everyone there played some fantastic stuff.
Eventually, it had to come to a close and the guitars were put away, apart from the Esquire.  Scotty, Mike, Don and Art moved into the studio's control room and Scotty put on one of his CD's.  This was piped through to the studio and I picked up the Esquire and played along. Fortunately the only person to hear this, other than Jim, was Kim, who smiled sweetly. I think she was just being polite!

Ron Garson with Scotty's Esquire

Then it was time to call it a night and return to my hotel room, but taking with me some wonderful memories of a perfect evening!

Ron Garson
September 7, 2003


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