Tuesday, July 16, 2013

T-Model Ford's gone

I met him when I moved to Greenville in 2004 to serve as an assistant public defender. Greenville wasn't a big town then; hasn't been that big for awhile, really since the barge businesses left town. 

Me being me, I quickly found the comfortable place where folks went after work to share the happening of the day over a glass of wine, beer, or whiskey. It was the latter that brought T-Model in. He'd shuffle to the door of the Walnut Street Blues Bar, prop it open with his cane, lean in, and holler "It's Jack Daniel time!" His pronouncement had a cadence all its own, distant relative to the call of a carnival barker. Full of wonder and excitement, his call to action was two parts Christmas morning, one part Mick Jagger swaggering through "Tumbling Dice", and one part sneaking away at church camp to get better acquainted, sweet thang. The mischief in his eyes in those moments fit him.

He'd saunter in, pull up a stool, and have a drink or two. We'd chat about life. I'd telI him what music I was listening to, and he'd tell me about their influences. I would quiz him on life on the road, and he'd ask me about what it felt like to try a case.  Some nights, he'd pull his guitar off the wall of the Blues Bar and I'd sing "Mojo Workin'" as he played. We were friends. 

T-Model died today, and I am sad. We all knew it was coming, and there certainly is no injustice in being 93 years-old when you leave the building. Still, I don't like it. 

He came to the guitar late in life, and that's a shame for all of us. It was with a guitar in his hand that he found himself. Instead of hearing about the legends around him, he became one. 

It's Jack Daniel time, I think. 

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