My Name Is D. D. Gainer

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
My tribute to B. B. King.

Submitted: May 17, 2015

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Submitted: May 17, 2015



It would be a stretch to say I knew D. D. Gainer.  I was in the same building as him few times.  He was a man whose presence filled the room when he walked in.  A busy man who would never have time for the likes of me, a freelance nobody looking for the next $100 paycheck from any magazine that will buy a story. 

I did get a lucky break.  And a great story.

It wasn’t even a D. D. Gainer show.  Instead, a young, relatively unknown blues guitarist named Bennie Albertson.  He put on a smoking hot show.  Before the show…

It was in a tiny club, with no reserve seating.  We showed up an hour early to get a good table.  Had just ordered drinks when a man with long blond hair walked up to our table and started chatting.  He said he was Paul Walters, the bass player.  I realized I’d seen him on stage, somewhere recently.

I asked if he’d been in other bands before.  He said he wasn’t Bennie’s regular bass player.  He was filling in while Bennie’s guy was tending to the birth of a child.  Paul’s band takes a break every summer for a couple of months while the head honcho tends to various other business interests.  Paul’s day job was playing bass for D. D. Gainer.  The one, the only, the legendary blues guitar player.

Bingo.  I had seen their show at a music festival three months earlier.  Afterward I had tried to weasel my way back stage to get an interview with Mr. Gainer.  No such luck.  But I did get to watch Paul work his magic in the background while D. D. shredded on his famous guitar, Esther.  Paul walked right past me at the end of the show, just as I realized the security guy was about to pull out that nightstick if I didn’t go away.

That is how luck works.  When you try to get something, maybe you get nothing, maybe you get a beating.  When you aren’t trying at all, maybe something falls out of the sky into your lap.

I bought Paul a beer and asked about making music with D. D. Gainer.  “How did he come to name his guitar Esther?”  He laughed and said, “Not only do I know, I know something else. Esther wasn’t his first guitar.  Before Esther, there was Thelma.  I’ll tell you how Thelma met her demise.  And I’ll tell you how Esther got her name.”

“It was before D. D. made it big.  We were playing dives all over the South.  When we started the first set at Cotton Eyed Joe’s in Atlanta, like always, the first thing he said was, “My name is D. D. Gainer, and these are the Blues Tenders.  We’re gonna play you ladies and gentlemen some blues.”

“Just then, a drunk in the audience shouted, ‘What makes you think you’ve got any business on that stage, you black bastard?’  The club got quiet.  D. D. broke out in a big grin and said, ‘Mister, why don’t you enjoy your beer, stay in your seat and I’ll let Thelma answer your question.”

“We broke into The Devil’s Blues, and D. D. went ballistic on the solo.  I’d never heard anything like it.  The crowd loved it and I forgot about the drunk.  Until I was knee deep in the bass solo of She’ll Never Love You.  My head was down, eyes on my fingers, trying to keep up with D. D.’s wicked licks.”

“I realized he stopped playing in the middle of the song.  I looked up, and saw the obnoxious drunk on the floor just in front of us.  Another man was standing over him, arm reared back holding a knife.  Just before the drunk got laid open, something black and moving fast leveled the assailant.  Thelma.”

“Somehow, D. D. had seen the drunk about to get stabbed, threw his guitar and hit the man square in the rib cage.  He crumpled to the ground.  Thelma’s neck snapped with a loud crunch when it made contact.  The drummer told me later that D. D. had the guitar by the neck and spun around in a circle like he was the hammer throw guy at a track meet.”

That was how Thelma answered the man’s question.

“Security swarmed over the man with the knife.  D. D. stepped off the stage and reached down to help the drunk to his feet.  He said, ‘Like I said before, my name is D. D. Gainer.’  The man said, ‘Mr. Gainer, it’s a pleasure to meet you, and I think I owe you a new guitar.”

“The man was true to his word.  The next morning, before the tour bus headed to the next destination, the man met D. D. at a music shop and wrote a check for the guitar D. D. picked out.  The guitarist noted the tattoo on the man’s forearm and asked about it.  The man said, ‘Esther, that’s my daughter’s name.”

Now, if I can just get Rolling Stone to buy the story…

© Copyright 2018 Serge Wlodarski. All rights reserved.

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