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  1. #1

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    Just wondering...what do you all think as far as Chet's music (specifically his guitar playing) and how he compares to all the great jazz guitarists discussed in these forums? I'm such a newbie, but thus far he's been the biggest influence in my playing, and to me he seems to make every note count (i.e., no filler).

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  3. #2

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    I liked the stuff that I heard from him when he played with George Benson and Earl Klugh. A long time ago I used to have a cassette (I know I'm dating myself ) of those 3 playing together. It was just recorded from a radio broadcast. It's one of those recordings that I listened to a lot way back when. Other than that, I did not really follow anything else by him.

    -FunkyE9th

  4. #3
    If you're interested, there are some sweet videos of Chet, George, and Earl on youtube. The looks Chet and George give eachother when they play are priceless.

  5. #4

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    I've seen some of those videos. I actually posted the Manha De Carnaval video on this forum a while ago. Good stuff!

    -FunkyE9th

  6. #5

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    Chet did some absolutely delicious and very sophisticated arrangements. I hold his playing in high esteem.

    His chord-melody take of "Starry Night" is among my favorite bits of guitar playing of all time in any genre.

  7. #6

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    Chet was not what I would call a "Jazz player" ....could he play Jazz? hell yeah, but it was his own way of interpretation as far a that goes.he truly was a master of the guitar & he listened [& recorded] with a lot of different players in many genres which is just cool as hell artistically.he'll always be one of my heroes even though I haven't copped much of his technique, but I'm sure I've been influenced by him.

  8. #7

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    I think Chet was one of the best guitarist on the planet. He could seamlessly move from one genre to another with full mastery. He has influenced two generations of players at this point, and was, by all accounts, an incredibly nice guy.

    I wouldn't call him a jazz player either, but he could play jazz, and do it very well. To call him a jazz player pigeonholes him into one genre, and he was more than that imo.

  9. #8

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    Chet Atkins was more than a guitar player, he actually advanced the guitar as a virtuoso instrument along with the likes of Joe Pass, George Van Eps and Lenny Breau. I think that any technique or harmonic ideas you gain from Chet can be applied to any style including jazz.

  10. #9

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but not only was Chet Atkins an exceptional guitarist... but I think I recall reading somewhere that he never had a lesson in his life.

    Somehow that puts him in a league of his own, if that's correct.


    .. love his stuff BTW

  11. #10

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    Those sorts of ideas get thrown around a bunch for guys from the past generation, and they are misleading. Kinda like the urban myth that Wes was unschooled. Nonsense.

    Musical education during Chet's time was apprenticeships. Playing on the bandstand with others who are veterans was the "school" of the day. Today, jazz has moved out of the club and dance hall scene to the university and internet.

    I read an article this summer where the number of college based jazz programs has just exploded in the past decade. My question is, where are all these graduates going to perform? They certainly aren't buying jazz, as downloads and cd sales continue to spiral downward.

    The numbers of jazz gigs has dwindled significantly in the past 50 years. First it was rock and roll, then DJs and Karaoke. Today, music is something that is perceived to be free, or of little value, and the idea of paying a premium to have musicians perform is getting more and more quaint.

    If Chet were an emerging guitarist today, would he even be noticed? I sincerely doubt he woud reach the level of recognition he did.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by derek
    Those sorts of ideas get thrown around a bunch for guys from the past generation, and they are misleading. Kinda like the urban myth that Wes was unschooled. Nonsense.

    Musical education during Chet's time was apprenticeships. Playing on the bandstand with others who are veterans was the "school" of the day. Today, jazz has moved out of the club and dance hall scene to the university and internet.

    I read an article this summer where the number of college based jazz programs has just exploded in the past decade. My question is, where are all these graduates going to perform? They certainly aren't buying jazz, as downloads and cd sales continue to spiral downward.

    The numbers of jazz gigs has dwindled significantly in the past 50 years. First it was rock and roll, then DJs and Karaoke. Today, music is something that is perceived to be free, or of little value, and the idea of paying a premium to have musicians perform is getting more and more quaint.

    If Chet were an emerging guitarist today, would he even be noticed? I sincerely doubt he woud reach the level of recognition he did.
    All good points Derek. However, with respect to Chet Atkins being noticed today - the same could be said of almost all of the greatest guitarists of yesteryear (Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, etc..). However, today's artist have built upon many of those guitarists' repertoires.

    Guitarists may be more technically proficient, but the element of innovation led Chet and others to be so great still remains. There are people who can play as well as, or better than, many of the greatest players - but if those players never existed how long would it have been until someone else came along and did what they did?

    I suspect they are more important as foundations to build upon, rather than to be compared to contemporary artists. Would Beethoven get noticed today? Eh, prolly not, but bet your ass Britney Spears would and she can't sing, play, or compose.



    Now, where are all these new, upcoming jazz artists going to play? That's another story. Perhaps they will take music in another direction, someplace new... one never knows. Maybe a new form of music that builds upon the jazz foundation will evolve much in the way jazz evolved from blues, and blues from... well you get the point.

    Honestly, there are plenty of uncharted waters musically -- and today just like 50 years ago, only a small percentage of musicians will make a bunch of money. The rest will need to supplement their income, or do music on the side and have another career.

  13. #12

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    Chet could play anything he wanted to...jazz, country....whatever. Don't forget that one of his biggest areas of influence was behind a desk, where he worked as an executive for RCA, and pretty much single handedly directed the development of the "Nashville Sound."....and on top of that....a nice man.

  14. #13

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    There is a wonderful song by the incredibly versatile (yes, in jazz too) guitarist, Pat Donahue, called "Stealing From Chet".

    Toward the end of the studio version, you hear Chet himself come in and say how he stole it from Merle Travis... who stole it from...

    If memory serves. Been a while since I heard it.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by pete
    There is a wonderful song by the incredibly versatile (yes, in jazz too) guitarist, Pat Donahue, called "Stealing From Chet".

    Toward the end of the studio version, you hear Chet himself come in and say how he stole it from Merle Travis... who stole it from...

    If memory serves. Been a while since I heard it.
    Merle Travis learned the style of alternating thumbpicking from Mose Rager, who learned from Kennedy Jones, who learned from Arnold Shultz, a black fiddler/guitarist...what a great way to play...melody/chords & bass at the same time...it's a shame there are no recordings of the original guy.
    Last edited by swingbilly; 02-11-2008 at 10:43 AM.

  16. #15
    Uh....back to Chet Atkins, he's probably my favorite guitar player. And in my opinion, though he wasn't a "jazz" guitar player, per se, he certainly incorporated alot of the ideas and sounds into what he played, and is, in short, freakin' fantastic.

  17. #16

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    I grew up listening to chet...granmother was a county music fanitic...on the radio..no tv yet...

    then the records ..78s...still have about 30 of his and play them at times..man could he play...his classical stuff was good too...

    remember he and les paul did an album and les said chet can play like me but i can;t play like chet...

    time on the instrument..pierre

  18. #17

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    chet is an icon one of the best i love his arrangment of liza or how about the mule skinner blues with chet and late great jerry reed.awesome

  19. #18

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    I think Chet Atkins was great. There's a lovely vid on youtube of him playing "The Entertainer" in the 70s (which means it's nice mic'd guitar not that horrible piezo quacking that everyone seemed to switch to afterwards).
    I like the fact that even though he wasn't a great singer he chose to do it so that he could communicate better with the audience.
    And Chet singing "I Still Can't Say Goodbye" at that gig with Mark Knopfler is about as moving as it gets.

  20. #19

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    I think Chet was one of the all around greatest guitarists ever.

  21. #20

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    J. Scofield & friends included the Chet's 'Mountain Melody' into the 'Progressions: 100 Years of Jazz Guitar' collection. So Chet is definitively a jazz guitarist (too).

  22. #21
    iam 58yrs old and listen to chet since i can remember ive heard him jam with other people and do jazz riffs. yes he could. also listen to les paul and mary ford. i love that clean sound.

  23. #22

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    I agree. He is the man even though he has passed on he will live forever through his music. I was always curious about one thing. Chet was the greatest influence on my music and also George Van Eps the great 7 string guitarist who has worldwide fame and yet I have never heard him or Chet speak of each other. They had to know each other existed.

  24. #23

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    Chet was bigger than jazz.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    Chet was bigger than jazz.
    Yes. He was greater than jazz. Although Chet idolized many Jazz greats such as Django Reinhardt and Lenny Breau as many of them did him. He was always quick to give credit to talent wherever he saw it.

  26. #25

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    Chet's music is great! Wish I had gotten into him when I was starting out... I rented those vestapol dvds years ago and that done it, I was hooked. Also got the Guitar Legend RCA years cd and there's a couple of tracks that are pretty jazzy like "So Rare" and "Satan's Doll"... incredible stuff.

  27. #26

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    Posted by Derek:

    QUOTE]Musical education during Chet's time was apprenticeships[/QUOTE]


    Maybe that was the reason why he presented himself as a "certified guitar player."


    I like his video in YT covering "After You´ve Gone" with Suzy Boguss.

  28. #27

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    I love him. I spend a lot of time practicing Atkins / Travis picking. It's a completely different beast.

    Here's one of my favorites:



    There are also several YouTube vids which teach how to play it.
    Last edited by paynow; 08-11-2013 at 01:23 PM.

  29. #28

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    One year Chet and his band took some time off and went on a Caribbean cruise with their wives. They grew incognito beards, the wives too, and nobody knew who they were. One night Chet asked the ship band if he could sit in with them a play a few tunes. Of course he blew everybody away.

    Afterward one ol' drunk came up out of the audience and said, "You're pretty good but you aint no Chet Atkins."

    Chet is great. I love his line about getting a pool shaped like a guitar amplifier.

  30. #29

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    Somebody once asked Chet, "What is the Nashville Sound?". He put his hand in his pocket and jingled some coins around. Pretty funny guy.

  31. #30

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    ......whichever category you place him, he could flat out play the guitar..........

    ......and he could nail a melody line.....worth listening to and then some !

    .......I've mentioned this before - " Chet Atkins Picks On the Beatles", w/ liner notes by Geo. Harrison......

    ........and his duet w/ Marc Knopfler w/ the Everly Bros. " Don't Worry Now ".........

    ......or duets w/ Leo Kottke, Earl Klugh....and others.......



    .............and for reading : " Chet Atkins -- Me and My Guitars " .......worth a look and a buy !!!

  32. #31

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    The books Chet Atkins in Three Dimensions volumes 1 & 2 have transcriptions of a whole lot of his arrangements, and lots of anecdotal stories about him by people who knew him well, like John Knowles, Paul Yandell, Vince Gill and many others. Great books.

  33. #32

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    If I found the lamp and the genie gave me my single wish it would be to be able to play like Chet.....

  34. #33

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    Page 1 of this thread has a few videos - here's one for page 2; this is a great take on a standard, I love this kind of playing from Chet, it's imaginative and swings like the clappers, just beautiful playing.

    <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAuI1B8zRFY" target="_blank">

  35. #34

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    There is a video of him on the Porter Wagoner show playing Wildwood Flower. He's one of those players who almost makes you want to give up guitar. He is so smooth and makes it look so easy.

    And a super nice guy to boot. I have never read anything negative about Chet Atkins.

    Back when my kids were still kids I got a CD for my birthday with Chet and Tommy Emmanuel. My kids LOVED it, to the point I had to pretend I couldn't find it, just so we could listen to something else. It was (and is) a very nice CD. One of the sweeter stories I have ever heard was how Tommy Emmanuel would visit Chet when Chet was very ill and confined to his bed, and Tommy would just sit at Chet's bedside and play guitar for him for hours at a time.

  36. #35

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    Listened to him since I started playing. I've got his greatest hits collection, 50 songs on two cd's, some very good songs on those.

    First place I headr this old standard,

    interesting to compare to something like


    This song is a personal favorite for some reason, makes me feel melancholy for some reason


  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by kofblz
    One year Chet and his band took some time off and went on a Caribbean cruise with their wives. They grew incognito beards, the wives too, and nobody knew who they were. One night Chet asked the ship band if he could sit in with them a play a few tunes. Of course he blew everybody away.

    Afterward one ol' drunk came up out of the audience and said, "You're pretty good but you aint no Chet Atkins."

    Chet is great. I love his line about getting a pool shaped like a guitar amplifier.
    I can imagine taking bearded wives on a vacation! LOL

  38. #37

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    Another one of my all time favorites. I took a lot of grief listening to his music from my buds in high school. I especially like his work with Les paul. Check out their rather loosley recorderd studio work. It tightened right up when the notes started flying.Knopfler was another good pairing.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frethack
    Another one of my all time favorites. I took a lot of grief listening to his music from my buds in high school. I especially like his work with Les paul. Check out their rather loosley recorderd studio work. It tightened right up when the notes started flying.Knopfler was another good pairing.

    Agree !!

    A far as your taking a lot of grief from your buds in high school, don't feel too bad. While they themselves may not have listened to Chet Atkins' music, it's a pretty safe bet that the guys your buds were listening to probably did !!
    Last edited by Dennis D; 09-09-2015 at 10:23 PM. Reason: typo

  40. #39

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    When Chet was learning guitar, he listened to Django Reinhardt (one of his favorite guitar players) and credits him with being a big influence. Also a big influence was Chet's brother Jim. Jim was a jazz guitar player and worked with Les Paul and Mary Ford. Chet said that Jim use to send him transcripts of his and Les's guitar parts. Chet originally was a violin (they call it fiddle in East Tennessee) player, and that's how he originally entered the music business. One night in a car while ridding with one of his bosses, Chet started playing some guitar. He was immediately told to quit playing fiddle and start playing guitar. Chet was working for the Bill Carlisle Show on WNOX radio in Knoxville, TN at the time. Eventually he was given an opportunity to play guitar solos over the air every day. He was told that every day it must be a new song. Chet said this is when he really learned a lot about guitar. He would do his one hour radio show each day then go into another room where he could take records of current charts (had accesses because of his position at the radio station) and learn a new song every day, and play that new song the next day on the air. He remained at WNOX in Knoxville for about three years before moving on to Cincinnati OH to play on a radio station there. Eventually Chet ended up playing with Red Foley. Thru this connection he made his first appearance at the Grand Ole Opry in 1946. He also made his first records in 1946 on the Bullet label. Chet then went on to WRVA radio station in Richmond VA and then to Springfield MO. Along the way Chet said he got fired a lot because his arrangements didn't fit what the radio stations wanted. It was along this time frame that Steve Sholes at RCA heard Chet via a tape he was sent. Steve was able to get hold of Chet who was in Denver, CO at the time and asked Chet to move to Nashville, TN. Steve said he had heard Chet before and wanted to talk to him, but was unable to find him. Upon Chet's move to Nashville he started recording on the RCA label and eventually became the studio guitarist for RCA Nashville division, this was around the 1949 time frame. This opened up many doors for Chet and he started playing for a lot of known country artist at the time. Maybelle Carter was one of them that he played for. Chet recalls that Mother Maybelle told him one night that a lot of guitar players in this town (Nashville) don't like him because they were afraid that he was going to take their jobs away. In 1953 Chet was made a consultant for RCA Nashville division to help on recordings with various artist and at the same time he released his own instrumental albums. His first hit was Mr. Sandman. It the late 50's Chet was put in charge of the RCA Nashville division. And the rest as they say, was history.

  41. #40

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    I really like Chet Atkins, An I'm happy to see that people here like him too.

    I have a cd with his first records (1946/47) it's absolutely great! But, after in his life, I think he made too much "cake music" .

  42. #41

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    Chet's Countrypolitan years were not his best, and his soft jazz recordings in the 80's were a bit odd. But Chet's projects from the 1990's were really good - he seemed to settle into music he really enjoyed and wasn't trying to hide his country roots anymore. To me it seemed like Chet was playing for the love of playing again. I saw him in the mid 90's and he was outstanding.

    1990's 'Neck and Neck' with Mark Knopfler was very, very good. Great picking, good songs and some amusing lyrics and comments.

    "Read My Licks" with George Benson, Eric Johnson, Mark Knopfler, Steve Wariner, etc. was a fun recording with good picking (I love Chet commenting to Steve Wariner when Steve starts playing "Steve, I thought I fired you").

    "Simpatico" with Suzy Bogguss was just outstanding 'comfort music' and wonderful to listen to.

    "Almost Alone" Showcases Chet's incredible playing (and gave us the now all to familiar 'Jam Man' used on insurance commercials).

    His last CD "The Day the Fingerpickers Took Over the World" with Tommy Emmanual is another great pairing. A perfect finish to an incredible life and career.

  43. #42

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    It's interesting ! I agree with you. Neck and neck is funny. I have in CD "The Nashville jump" "guitar country" "more of that guitar country" "sneakin around" "Mr atkins guitar picker" Chet akins picks the beatles" "finger pickin good", and of course, at "l'Olympia, with Marcel Dadi". There's some good, and some donkey music. But he was so important for the history of fingerstyle guitar that I excuse him for all !
    I never listened to his last album with Tommy Emmanuel, but I am be very interested by it!
    Last edited by rem; 06-01-2016 at 02:51 PM.

  44. #43

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    Chet & Tommy.




  45. #44

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    Chet and Jerry.


  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by paynow
    I love him. I spend a lot of time practicing Atkins / Travis picking. It's a completely different beast.

    Here's one of my favorites:



    There are also several YouTube vids which teach how to play it.
    Better still, let the man himself show you:there are many close-ups of his hands

  47. #46

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    I watched the Ken Burns Country documentary series recently. Really enjoyed it, but it was a bit sad that they kinda left the instrumentalists in the background. Not really any mentions of guitarists, lap steelers or that kind. Chet was mentioned here and there, but very briefly. The focus was on the singers and the songwriters, which is understandable. At least Earl Scruggs was discussed for a few minutes. One of the Marsalis brothers popped up once among the people interviewed, I noted..

  48. #47

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    I like Chet. Those recordings above such as Sandman and with Jerry Reed really show his wonderful playing and sound.

    And much as I love more abstract jazz, you play Sandman for 99% of the public and they think this is the greatest guitar playing in the history of music. Of course his technique was incredible, but he knew how to play for his audience’s sensibilities.

    I have to say a lot of his recordings were too tame or polished for my tastes. I did have the album he did with Tommy Emmanuel, and my young kids absolutely loved it. On long car trips in the early ‘00’s they would beg for me to put on the “Guitar Pickers” CD.

    One of my favorites is the album he recorded with Les Paul...Lester and Chester. Just a really enjoyable recording of 2 masters at the top of their game.

  49. #48

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    Chet was the master guitarist and the annual meeting in Nashville of his admiration society attests to that. That being said, Chet was also responsible for one of the most reprehensible periods in country music. He was in charge during the era of the "Nashville Sound" adding strings and an easy-listening sound to country music. I will take the "Bakersfield Sound" any day over Chet's elevator music treatment of country music.

    Have any of you listened to Larry Odham? He seems to be one of the guitarists truly trying to stick with Chet's sound. I keep thinking he looks like Harrison Ford with a deep South Carolina accent (no offense S. Carolina) if you watch more of his YT videos. He really has nailed Chet.


    Dan

  50. #49

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    For the last few years whenever I run into trouble playing something that my hands just don't want to do, I've asked myself this simple question "What would Chet do?" (or simply WWCD). The seeming ease with which he played was not just a function of smooth hand movements. He did all sorts of tricks to make his left hand movement as efficient and economical as possible and was constantly thinking of ways to make it easier to get from point A to point B. Very inspirational.

  51. #50

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    I grew up in Brooklyn. When I was a teenager in the 60s I was exposed to jazz and pop music, but little or no country music. I'm not sure there was a country radio station in NYC back then, although there was one in the early 70s. I didn't know anybody who listened to country music. Albums were expensive and I didn't have many, even of the musical styles I knew and liked. There was no way I could afford to take a chance on buying something I didn't already know about.

    I recall hearing the name Chet Atkins but I really didn't know what the fuss was about.

    Years later, I listened to a lot of country music on the radio, but didn't hear Chet Atkins' name, that I can recall. I may well have been hearing his music.

    Still later, I came to understand a little more about the country tradition from Ken Burns.

    And, even after that, finally found some youtube video of vintage Chet.

    Now I know what the fuss was about.