Elvis 75 (2010) painting by Nick Ward
pic below of Cambridge Evening News banner added here 9 January 2012
There was a knock on the front door on Elvis 76 Day and I guessed who it might be, yes, Sir, my old country music partner Mr Pete ‘Jedediah’ Sands. Pete is older than he looks and was playing professionally before Elvis hit the scene – yup, he’s right up there in his eighties – and guess what? He’s come round to see if I was up a few days busking in France next week. ‘Just jump in the car – I’ll cover the fuel’. Not possible unfortunately – production meeting with impressario-actor Peter Tate in London on Thursday – a revival of my 1986/1999 ‘Kurtz’ play Splendid Isolation (after Joseph Conrad) – and then to the balcony jamming gig at the Inn on the Green, Ladbroke Grove, on Saturday), but, Hell, Pete, nice to be asked.
My place – Pete playing Johnny Cash’s ‘Delia’s Gone’ on my banjo-tuned Da Vinci
How does Pete stay so young? – always learning new songs – always working up new material – and he’s slowing down just enough to be digging into the blues. Doesn’t smoke too much – makes a packet of Golden Virginia go for a two or three days – lays off the booze these days – but reckons it nearly killed him in his hell-raising phase.
He was a boxer and snooker hustler – sold oil to farms – and sold songs to Nashville – he’s been ripped off and he’s made a few quid. He can build you a shed; he can fix your motor or your fence. Missed the big break but he’s philosophical about that. He can bullshit too.
He’s getting into Dylan at last – but prefers Don McClean – I played him Nashville Skyline – and he’ll have Lay Lady Lay down by next week.
Pete ‘Jedediah’ Sands and Banjo Nick
‘Country Kings’ on tour 2006 (pic: H Ward – Dad)
(Mistley, Essex – Church in background is where Mum is laid to rest)
These days Pete earns his money playing clubs and cafes on the French Riviera – for a few hundred quid a night – and he can go for 3 hours. Has a woman down there so that saves on the rent. She’s faithful too and Pete believes her. Pete gave me a place to stay when I was living in a tent by the river in Fen Ditton and busking in Cambridge in 2005 (with the Summer just gone) and we played a lot together – one of my most vital teachers. Never gets sick of the banjo and never got used to calling it Country… its ‘Country and Western’ to Pete… you should hear his Frankie and Johnny – he can take that song to the full 28 verses… old busking trick – and now for the banjo break – and now for the banjo break, etc. cheers, mate.
‘Love me Tender’ – Vera Matson/Elvis Presley(?) – a great country song
The name Jedediah comes from Yididyahu, a Hebrew name meaning “Friend of God” or “beloved of God”. In the Bible, Jedidiah was the “blessing” name given by God through prophet Nathan, in infancy to Solomon, King David‘s second son by Bathsheba.