It sure is a treat for Gary and Rick
to ask me back to tell my
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.
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
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
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
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,
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.
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
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
they will be no more. Jody Carver
The Knight Of Fender Tweed Has Spoken :)
Copyright © By Jody Carver 2005 All Rights Reserved
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
and ukulele. He got his start during
the silent movie era, playing in the orchestra pit in the theaters.
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
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
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,
mentored him and left an indelible mark on him, enough for him to honor
this story. I read on, and as I did so,
I felt certain that Jody Carver had to be speaking about my grandfather!
brought tears to my eyes. It was like
finding a piece of my grandfather kept alive in someone else’s heart
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
was being discussed.
Jody in contact with my dad on the phone, and they spoke about Grandpa
there’s only 6 degrees of separation between people in this world, and
one story that offers testimony to that fact.
one wish, it would be for me to go back into time and listen with a
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
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
lessons for many years. Grandpa Joe’s
steel string guitars and his Gibson Trini Lopez guitar are tenderly
by my son, among many other guitars he has collected through the years.
proud of our son’s musical inclination and are happy to watch the
down through the generations. My
youngest son also plays instruments—the piano and the saxophone.
Jody, for your heartwarming story about my grandfather and for bringing
alive each time someone happens upon your web page.
Joe Monte on Steel Guitar
Jody's teacher - Joe Monte