View Full Version : Loars

Feb-14-2006, 10:49am
I just returned from the BG festival in Palatka, Florida.
I talked to Dry Branch Fire Squad guy Ron Thomason, who plays a Loar and he said that him or his band has three Loars.
Pretty amazing. Anyone else attend that festival?

Brian Aldridge
Feb-14-2006, 8:48pm
hi bluegrassjack2. I was at that festival too. In fact I play guitar/mandolin in Dry Branch Fire Squad. I really enjoyed that festival. I met some great folks, got to hear the Dillards, jamed a bunch with Wynn Osborne and Jim Fee among others. I thought the festival was very well organized and the huge shelterhouse style roof covered seating area, with the auxilary tented area was a great big plus. The rain on Saturday was only a minor inconvenience instead of ruining the event, as I have seen happen in the past elsewhere. The two mandolins present in the band there was 72210 and 84469. Some others stayed at home, resting from 20 days in California recently.

Feb-15-2006, 12:45am
Hi, Brian,
# I heard rumors that Ron had broken a string on his in the middle of a show a year or two back, grabbed yours to finish the song, and swung it around behind his back to deliver one of his patented introductions, where it slipped and dropped to the stage floor, giving it a Monroe-style scrollectomy. #Is it true? #I notice he is still around, so I was hoping that maybe it was another one of those "urban myths."

Feb-15-2006, 7:30am
I think I watched all of Ron's shows and I dont remember him dropping his mandolin!!!
By the way brian, I"m the one that stopped u after the first show and talked about ur mandolin and the pick u used.

Feb-15-2006, 7:36am
I think Ron is/was fond of slingin the thing over his back and talking to the crowd. Wakefield **used** to do the same thing. Then disaster struck and he don't do that no more http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Kevin K
Feb-15-2006, 8:37am
AlanN, what happened to Wakefield's during this disaster you mention

Feb-15-2006, 8:42am
Hi Kevin,

Was not his '23, but he was carrying an F-5 on his back, schmoozing the crowd, the end pin fell out, the mandolin fell down and cracked, Frank fell down and cracked http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Feb-15-2006, 9:01am
Brian: You say you jamed with Jim Fee--I haven't seen Jim since leaving FL 15 years ago(believe he was with Big Timber). How's he doing? Is he still in the Orlando area?

John Rosett
Feb-15-2006, 9:14am
AlanN, #what happened to Wakefield's during this disaster you mention
what HASN'T happened to that poor thing?

Brian Ray
Feb-15-2006, 1:14pm
Hi Brian,

I was at one of those CA dates... the one in Mountain View in fact. I'd never seen y'all... enjoyed it very much.

Brian Aldridge
Feb-15-2006, 1:36pm
hello Rroyd. Here's an eye witness report on the dropped Loar.

A Lloyd Loar Hits The Floor
Dry Branch Fire Squad was doing an extended Sunday morning set at Dick
Pierle's 2003 Old Blue Memorial Day Bluegrass Festival in Grand Junction,
Colorado, transitioning from a gospel set into some of its more mainstream
material, when Ron Thomason broke a string on his 1923 Gibson F-5 Lloyd Loar
He laid it aside, and picked up his talented guitarist/mandolinist/harmony
singer, Brian Aldridge's, mandolin--also a 1923 Lloyd Loar. (Ron had made
special mention the night before of the presence in his band of these two
remarkable instruments.)
Brian's instrument differs from Ron's though, in one very important feature:
type and length of strap. If you've ever seen Ron play, you know that he
uses a fairly long strap--actually, it's an old rein from his horse
tack--and that he slings his instrument to his side between numbers, the
better to use his hands to embellish the stories that are such an
entertaining part of the Dry Branch Fire Squad experience.
Well, Brian uses a shorter, string-type strap, and it was pretty obvious
that Ron was a bit discomfited by the different "hang" of the instrument. In
fact, he fooled around with the strap a bit trying to get comfortable with
So Ron's going along in his set, and he slings this beautiful 1923 Lloyd
Loar to his side after a song, and THUNK, the strap came off the tailpiece,
and the instrument crashed to the floor.
Gasps, then silence. Shock, both in the audience and onstage. A look of
complete anguish crossed Ron's face.
It was tough to continue the set. Ron confided later during a workshop that
he was totally dumbstruck--couldn't remember where he was in the show,
couldn't remember the lyrics of the next song--all he could think about was
the damage to this irreplaceable mandolin. He said he even thought about
pausing the show for a few minutes, just so he and Brian could check the
instrument and commiserate about it. (The damage turned out to be a part of
the scroll chipped off. Certainly repairable, but not what anyone would have
wanted to happen to such a beautiful and historic instrument.)
In the end, though, and with obvious effort, he gathered himself, found his
place in the show, and continued, putting on an excellent performance under
very difficult circumstances.
Now, you'll notice that I've never used the word "dropped" in describing
this event. That's because Ron Thomason does not "drop" instruments, and
certainly not a 1923 Lloyd Loar. He treats fine instruments, whether his own
or others', with the utmost respect.
Ron has a well-developed sense of humor, but I don't think I'd be up to
needling him about this. No, "Well, when do you go into the Pete Townshend
part of your act and start smashing instruments??" There is a line, and that
would cross it. In fact, agitating about it might earn you "the look"...the
most withering stare this side of Bill Monroe. Ron will be back at the Old
Blue Memorial Day Festival this year, and I'll bet he brings this incident
up from the stage. It'll be fun to be there to see what he has to say!
by Robb Ruyle

Brian Aldridge
Feb-15-2006, 1:45pm
addcourt, Jim Fee is still in the Orlando area. I am not sure if he still plays out much, but I know he is giving banjo lessons. Wynn Osborne is Jim's Son-in-Law, and also lives in the Orlando area. Jim seems to be doing real well. He sang a song I hope I can find about a son returning home after years in prison, who wondered if his mom would recognize him- only to find his mother had went blind. He sang it with so much emotion it was incredible- like it had happened to him. I have never seen anyone so moved by a song as the few who were lucky enough to be present at that small jam. I am a huge Jim Fee fan now. He said Bill Harrell had recorded that song. Anyone have it?

Brian Aldridge
Feb-15-2006, 1:47pm
dasspunk, I am glad you enjoyed the show. If you live anywhere near Mt View CA, you are one lucky person. Incredible. Nicest folks on the planet. Also, congratulations on being the new poster boy for Mandolin Cafe

Feb-15-2006, 4:05pm
Thanks. I was hoping it was just a rumor started by someone who had failed the Kentucky minimum competency test, but alas. . . My sympathies, and hopefully it is intact again, with no visible damage.

Brian Aldridge
Feb-15-2006, 4:15pm
Rroyd, thanks. It is itact again, thanks to the wonderful Don MacRostie.

Feb-15-2006, 6:08pm
Brian: Thanks so much for the update on Jim Fee. I used to enjoy spending time with Jim at his home and at his store in Pine Castle, FL. He and Paul Champion really got me involved in the banjo. Glad he's doing ok. I googled him and only got the golf head coach at USF(also Jim Fee), so your report is really appreciated. Best regards, Mike

Brian Aldridge
Feb-15-2006, 8:57pm
Rroyd, I heard a rumor that one of the questions on the Kentucky Minimum Competency test next year was going to be how many fully uncivilized austrolopithicines it takes to drop a Lloyd Loar mandolin, followed by connect the dot and guess your sex without looking.

Feb-15-2006, 10:18pm
To part one, obviously just one. Parts two and three are a bit harder, and will take some more thought.

Feb-15-2006, 11:00pm
I have absolutely never trusted those stupid "press-fit" violin end pins and would never, ever rely on one, even before hearing these horror stories...they will do the last thing you want them to do at the worst possible time... they can even split the end block during transport when you are not even near it...count on them at peril to your instrument...

Brian Aldridge
Feb-15-2006, 11:21pm
you have a good point Fretbear, but actually it was not the end pin that came out. The strap got folded over on the end pin and the strap rolled off the pin. Every since then I lock the strap on. I have been using those vinyl gromets folk use as string silencers, well the larger ones, to stretch over my end pin and fasten the strap on securely.