Introduction:

    It sure is a treat for Gary and Rick to ask me back to tell my little story of the past that I had learned away back when. So with that said I would like to tell those members of the Club a little story and how much it means to me today.
    Years back when I was young, it didn't mean anything much, after all I thought why heck, I will never get old, I will always be a young fellow, well how wrong I was and I grin when I think of how all of this stayed with me all these years. I left off on my last story as to how I had received a beauty of a "Steel" which I was so very proud of. Proud because it was my dad who bought it for me and that in itself is the reason for me to pass this story on.
    I had a few teachers, I enjoyed studying with but there was one teacher who made a profound impression on me, he was a great steel player but more than that he was a wonderful and caring human being. I dedicate this story to my late teacher and friend JOE MONTE.
    It was back in the late 1940's I guess maybe 1948 or thereabouts. Joe Monte was the first teacher I had who was able to get me going in the right direction and through his teachings has made me treasure life all the more as I grew older.













THE FRETS OF LIFE
One day as I was taking my lesson, Joe tried to explain how important it was to use the bar in the correct manner, he went on and explained as I put myself in the words in what Joe told me.
Jody, your left hand will be a major factor in the tone, which you have to develop in order to be a good player. Today we will have a lesson in the proper use of the bar. He went on to explain that very few steel guitarists sound alike and the reason being everyone has their own distinctive style and most important if the tone and sound to distinguish one steel player from another.
Wow, I thought, this is just a piece of cake, easy to eat. But in short order I found it different and more and more difficult to get that certain sound that Joe Monte wanted me to get.
Joe went on to explain. "Look at it this way Jody, you're a young fellow and you have years ahead, god willing, but as you grow older the years fly by. I thought to myself, hey what is this? I thought I was going to learn to play steel guitar and not get a lesson in how to live my life. I found out differently.  I hope that in some way this little story will help you see the way it has helped me develop a different and more caring outlook on life.
The first Fret is the widest, Joe explained.  It is as though it was significant of life itself. I sat and listened to his logic. Although I was young, it meant little to me, but as the years passed so quickly, I look back and see what Joe meant. As I write this story it brings me back to another place and another time. I can say now I am proud to have known people like my friend and mentor, Joe Monte.
The first fret was wide enough to allow for error. Surely the movement of the bar had room for error and it was fairly easy to make any corrections that were necessary?
The second Fret was not much different than the first fret. I thought well, what are we doing here, a lesson or a way to take a shortcut out of this lesson? Heck, I wanted to play like those great players such as Noel Boggs and Joaquin Murphey and Speedy West. I thought, did they have to go through this? No way, they didn't, but it doesn't matter now, because as I grew older I realized how precious life is.

Each time I played on the different frets I realized what Joe had told me, sure got difficult to maintain a quality tone and a good vibrato as each fret got narrow and narrow as I went up the scale on my little "Supro" steel guitar.
When I found myself high up the scale, I discovered how difficult it was for me to maintain the vibrato. Oh gosh, Joe is right, this is something to keep practicing. And that I did, over and over. Many times, in frustration, I threw my guitar to the floor and said to myself,  "that's it", I quit!
But knowing all to well I was kidding myself. I was having an argument with my guitar.  I'd say, "hey you", "c'mon and help me". Too bad my guitar couldn't answer, but in time it did.  It spoke to me, in its own way, as I played my steel. It seemed to say, "Jody, stick with me.  I'll help all I can."  Well, I guess you are thinking, wow, Jody sure is getting a bit off the wall.  You may think so, but it taught me something I will never forget.
As I look at each Fret, it signifies a part of my life, the first and widest, had room for error. I had a long, long time before the end of my life would come. At the age of 18 I didn't think I would ever grow older. I would always be that young steel player, you know,  maybe  that of a "hot shot player".
As the Frets were getting narrow I saw the difficulty I was having to strive through life and how precious life was beginning to look to me.
On each Fret as I look at them I see people I remember dearly. I can see my dad as he struggled through life to raise me. My mom stayed by his side as they both struggled just to put food on the table, help me get an education and to help me to keep studying to play steel guitar. .
As I look at the present I see something that perhaps others do not. I see the life of a young man that in a short time that young man matured. He had to face many challenges ahead of him. That young man was me.
The Frets got narrow and narrow as I went until the scale never realizing that one day I would have a difficult time keeping my bar straight on and getting the tone of life or love that lie ahead for me.
Often times as I look at my guitar these days I see those whom I have loved and lost and those who are still with me who I love so very much.
I can see my very first love, other than my steel guitar. She a young
care-free kid, a cute gal who was influential in keeping me focused on my guitar.
The further I go, the Frets get more difficult to play as I struggle these days to maintain my health and those I love so dearly.
I see my wedding day and a beautiful bride who loved me as I loved her all of my life, the most beautiful memories as I look at the Frets of my life.
Then as if all at once I see the loss of my mother and then of my dad and the tears run from my eyes as I look down on the Frets, why? What happened to all those years? Why? I did everything I did in my life as best as I could. Joe Monte was right and I remembered every thing he told me and it has all come true.
I have had a wonderful life. One I guess I should be proud of, but somehow those I lost, take priority and my life begins to see the frets grow narrower and narrower all the time.
I saw the scale of life run out of frets this past November when the love of my life said goodbye to me on November 15th as I held her close to me in my arms.
I tried to focus on the good and happy times and as a Fender salesman, of which I was so proud to be. And the relationship I had with the innovator of what now is known as the revolution that startled the world. The famous Stratocaster was the beginning of the success story for those of us who loved Leo Fender and Donald D. Randall. Yet with all of that I was torn by the loss of my wife.
I was devastated at this time losing my wife and those who have meant so much to me and the story of Joe Monte as he taught me the Frets of my life and I see now exactly what Joe meant. I see the Frets are getting more difficult as my years are advancing. Sure its difficult.  I know that and we all have to accept what life has to offer and stand up to it and go on as I did with my little Supro guitar.
Life has been good to me, I have a lovely and loving family and mygrandchildren have grown to be honorable and good children. This takes some of the pain away, however the pain lingers no matter how hard I try. Before my wife Marilyn passed she asked me to do her something for her and I agreed to anything she would ask.
She asked me to keep playing my steel guitar and never give up no matter what. She asked me to keep loving her even though she would be gone. She told me how happy she was to see me inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall Of Fame. That was her last wish, and that wish was granted by the grace of God and those who helped get me to the pinnacle of my life, the Steel Guitar Hall Of Fame.
I thank  all who stood behind me and  wanted me to be inducted.   At first, I wanted to reject my induction because I felt as I though I wasn't deserving of that honor. With the help Of God and my wife's wishes and those who helped me get there was something I had to do. If not for me but for those who believed in me.
Dewitt Scott, Bob Maickel, Bobby Caldwell, Tom Bradshaw, Herb Steiner, Fred Layman, Winnie Winston, my good friend the late and great Jeff Newman. It was they who helped me as I then saw the Fret board again and the emotion that absorbed me as I cried during my performance.

My life has been full and I have had many regrets and many losses some of my own doing, but my wife wished in her final days that I would continue my life as she wanted.
She wanted me to stay involved with people I have so much in common with and that I have with members of the Steel Guitar Forum.
 As I can hear in the distance the sound of hoof beats of the horses,getting closer and closer every day and that old "Outlaw Time" drawing a bead on me everyday.I will continue to ride as fast as I can to outrun the "Outlaw Time" but I know he will catch up to me one day. When he does I will look at my Frets and know my time is up, and that I have reached the end . I have loved and lost. I still love those in my life and will until the darkness covers the Frets of my life, and I can see no more.
    My Thanks To Rick Alexander for coming into my life at this time and to Gary Boyett for all his help.To Gene Jones, Smiley Roberts, Big John Bechtel, John P Phillips,
Bob Maickle,Howard Reinlieb, Sharon Stewart, Joey Ace, b0b Lee, Bill Hamner, Bobby Caldwell, Roy Rosetta, Leo Fender, Donald Randall, Kenny Foy, Ron Brennan, Hank Pell, Mike Gross, Sandy Miller - To each and every member of The Steel Guitar Forum and The entire Staff band at the ISGC who have helped me see through my tears on September 2 - 2004, and those who have meant so much to me over the years. I love each and everyone of you. With all Of My Love to my daughters, Lorrie & Marie and my Grandsons,Carl and Sean, my son in-law Hans , and to the love of my life, Casey Reynolds. My good friends, Keep Your Eyes on Your Frets because someday they will be no more. Jody Carver
The Knight Of Fender Tweed Has Spoken    :)
Copyright © By Jody Carver 2005 All Rights Reserved




Epiliogue:
by MaryAnn Miano

            My grandfather was a wonderful musician.  He was a self-taught string instrument musician who played with great passion and devotion the banjo, mandolin, steel string guitar, electric guitar, and ukulele.  He got his start during the silent movie era, playing in the orchestra pit in the theaters.

Wouldn’t it be interesting, I thought, if I could find information about him on the Internet, even though his heyday was the big band era?  Perhaps I could uncover places he had visited and was remembered for.  Perhaps there would be mention of him somewhere on the great information highway, so that his talent could be remembered and revered forever.

    One day I Googled his stage name:  Joe Monte.  Many, many Joe Monte’s made their presence known on various web pages, but none of them said anything about being a musician.  And then, a site caught my eye.  It was called “The Frets of Life,” by Jody Carver.  I began to read the story of a man who talked about his music teacher, by the name of Joe, who mentored him and left an indelible mark on him, enough for him to honor with this story.  I read on, and as I did so, I felt certain that Jody Carver had to be speaking about my grandfather!
       

    It nearly brought tears to my eyes.  It was like finding a piece of my grandfather kept alive in someone else’s heart and web site for others to know him.  I knew I had to find a way to contact Jody.  I was able to track him down, and he and I emailed each other.  Yes, he most definitely was talking about my grandfather, Joseph “Monte” Montuori! 
        

    Jody and I proceeded to talk on the phone and became friends.  Without telling my parents what was happening, I printed out Jody’s “Frets of Life” story and began to read it aloud to them.  My dad, Joe Monte’s son, listened carefully, and as I proceeded to read the story, my dad’s face lit up as he realized who was being discussed.
         

    I then put Jody in contact with my dad on the phone, and they spoke about Grandpa Joe and reminisced. 

    They say there’s only 6 degrees of separation between people in this world, and this is one story that offers testimony to that fact.

    If I had one wish, it would be for me to go back into time and listen with a keener ear to Grandpa playing his instruments.  I’ve developed a love and appreciation for the guitar now, which I did not have while growing up.  I wish for the opportunity to sit and watch him play in his living room once again. 
   
    When Grandpa Joe passed away, my firstborn son was 2 years old.  We placed one of Grandpa’s picks into the casket and said a silent prayer:  “Grandpa, put your talent into our son.”  We put a toy guitar into our son’s hands, and the rest is history.  My son (also named Joe and 19 years old now) has developed a passion for playing guitar and has taken music lessons for many years.  Grandpa Joe’s steel string guitars and his Gibson Trini Lopez guitar are tenderly preserved by my son, among many other guitars he has collected through the years. 
   
   
We are very proud of our son’s musical inclination and are happy to watch the talent pass down through the generations.  My youngest son also plays instruments—the piano and the saxophone.

 
   Thank you, Jody, for your heartwarming story about my grandfather and for bringing him alive each time someone happens upon your web page.
   
Sincerely,
MaryAnn Montuori Miano





Joe Monte on Steel Guitar







Jody's teacher - Joe Monte




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