By Tim Mrak
I am an old guitar hanging on the wall of a south side pawn shop.. out of tune and dusty, with scratchy pots and a warped neck, not plugged in for years… I got a 60 hz hum and a few dead frets…..
Hey, Wait!! Don’t look at that Fender over there. You can’t afford that! Look at meee!!!
Come back here and look at me. I am some vintage ass shit! I’m not beyond repair, just a little neglected. Yeah, I got some stickers on me…You can take the stickers off. I know it’s hard to do, and you probably won’t get all of the adhesive off. I used to have a pretty nice finish at one time.
I started my life as a 1958 Silvertone Jupiter 1423, Made by Harmony. A semi hollow, flat top, quasi Les Paul shape with a bolt on neck. I was born with two DeArmond pickups, a trapeze tailpiece, a rosewood bridge, a white pick guard with 5 knobs and a chicken head selector switch. I have 20 frets and I weigh 5 pounds. I cost $67.00 brand new. I was sold through a Sears and Roebuck catalog with a 5 watt amp in a black case with red fuzzy lining.
I was a Christmas present for Tommy Johnston, age 12, for Christmas, 1958. The first song that was ever played on me was Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star. Because that’s what I was gonna be…….
Tommy was supposed to be in the talent show at Millard Fillmore Junior High School with his friends Charlie Snodgrass and Joey Slabotnik on drums. Tommy started the school year without a guitar and he had to borrow one from Vinny Buttavinci, who had a spare, (Vinny’s Dad was in the mob or something….)
So he begged and begged his parents for an “Eeeee-lectric” guitar
He had been practicing to his “race records” in his bedroom with Vinny Buttavinci’s spare guitar. He loved that thing, he wanted to get one just like it. On Saturdays he would go to Joey Slabotnik’s house who had a drum set in the garage. The Slabotniks must be kind of rich, they have two televisions and Joey’s mom has her own car…..
It’s a pink Thunderbird. Mr Slabotnik is always working out of town or something. Nobody really knows.
But I digress….I’m just a guitar…Hanging on the wall of a south side pawn shop… With a warped neck and a 60hz hum
There I was, underneath the Johnston’s Christmas tree that year…waiting for Tommy to come down the stairs. I am the stuff that dreams are made of. In all my brand new, black and white, semi hollow, Masonite, glitter paint, soap bar pickup glory. I am a tool to be used to attain stardom. And I have a talent show scheduled for February 1959. I’m in a band, before I’m even unwrapped on Christmas morning…
The Fillmore Junior High School Talent Show.
Friday, February 13, 1959.
Tonight is the night that Tommy and The Twangers make their debut. They go on right after Bunky Turnipseed’s ventriloquist act and before Betsy Wankel’s Hula Hoop demonstration. It’s an advantageous time slot for Tommy and the Twangers. They are going to crush it.
But wait….??!!! What’s this?
The Vinny Buttavinci Band is playing last?
Nobody ever said anything about the Vinny Buttavinci Band!!! Did Vinnie’s dad pay off the talent show director, Mr. Shlubb? It’s a conspiracy!
Bunky’s ventriloquist act is over and it’s time for Tommy and the Twangers to make their debut. The Twangers set up their equipment in a hasty fashion. It takes them a full 11 minutes to tune the ten strings amongst them. They need silence because those little battery operated digital tuners won’t be available for decades. Those things simply haven’t been invented yet.
“Everybody, let’s give a warm welcome to Tommy and the Twangers!!!”
Yay….clap clap clap
Tommy is a ball of nerves as he is about to play in front of hundreds of people for the first time. He comes down hard with his plectrum and strikes an open E chord and instantly breaks his low E string. He doesn’t know what to do, he’s never had a broken string before. His band mates just stare at him while he’s covered in nervous flop sweat.
“I can’t play,,,,, my guitar is broken”
He unplugs his guitar and walks to the exit of the gymnasium. Charlie unplugs his bass and follows suit
Joey looks around as he is the last of the Twangers left and begins to play a drum solo for one and half exhilarating minutes. He throws his drumsticks into the air as they come crashing down on to his drum set. Joey walks off in the same direction as the others.
“Let’s hear it for Tommy and the Twangers!!!
The next day Tommy puts me in the guitar case with a broken E string and puts me under the bed where I will remain for the next 17 years
Tommy was devastated about failing in front of the whole school at the middle school talent show. He never wanted to even look at me because I reminded him of his humiliating moment in the spotlight. It really was soul crushing for him to think about. When he put me under his bed, he simply gave up on his dreams of playing guitar in a band.
It was like I was in guitar purgatory being under Tommy’s bed for seventeen years. By the time I was pulled out and even looked at, it was the bicentennial. I laid there in the dark, in pristine condition during the whole 60s explosion.
I missed Beatlemania, Woodstock, Acid Rock, and Psychedelic eras without being played even once. By the time Tommy’s mother pulled the guitar case from under the bed, Silvertone Guitars had stopped being in production for many years. I don’t look like other guitars being made in the 70s
In the spring of 1976 I find myself sitting out in the sun at the Johnston’s yard sale with a yellow sticker that says $25.
Paulie Nosterelli, age 13, lives down the street from the Johnston’s. Paulie woke up that Saturday and could see the Johnston’s yard sale from his bedroom window. Amongst the knicknacks,the unmatched kitchen utensils and creepy sad clown paintings, is a black and white Silvertone gleaming in the sunlight.
Paulie gets dressed and races down the street to the Johnston’s yard sale….
Paulie ‘Nostrils’ is an odd neighborhood kid.. He doesn’t seem to have a lot of friends, probably because everyone calls him Paulie Nostrils. It’s understandable. It’s not easy going to Millard Fillmore Jr High with a nickname like that.
Last Halloween, he dressed up in a black frizzy wig, with white and black face makeup, featuring a black star over his left eye and red lipstick, with black and silver spandex and platform boots. Lots of people thought he was some type of kabuki theater drag queen or something, but many of the kids in the neighborhood knew exactly what Paulie was shooting for that Halloween, because they were very aware of the rock band KISS.
His peers were pretty damned impressed with his get up, but the parents were universally mortified.
Over and over again, as he went around the neighborhood, trick or treating, he was asked, ‘Where’s your guitar?’
“Hi Mrs Johnston, it’s a fine day isn’t it?”
“Oh Hi Paulie, it certainly is, hows your mom?”
“Oh she’s fine, maybe she will come take a look at that blender you’re selling”
“That would be nice, tell her to come see me”
“So Mrs Johnston, I’d like to buy that guitar”
“Ahh yes, that belonged to my son, Tommy”
“He got it for Christmas one year. It’s got a string missing or something, it will probably need to be repaired”
“Hmmm, gee I don’t know, $25 dollars seems pretty expensive”
“Well, how much do you have?”
“$17.69,” Paulie said meekishly.
“Okay, I guess that will have to do, Tommy never got much use out of it.”
Mrs Johnston was glad to see it go, and Paulie was astonished by his incredible good luck
At first, Paulie had no idea of what to do with me. For the most part, he just got dressed up like KISS and looked at himself holding up a real guitar in the mirror. He tried plugging into the 5 Watt Amp that was built in to the case,but could not make anything resembling music. I still only have five strings on me and I’m badly out of tune.
Mr Nosterelli, Paulie’s dad, knows the Buttavincis and remembers that Vinny Jr. was quite a guitar enthusiast, and has played in many bands over the years. The Vinny Buttavinci Band had made quite a name for itself in the region.
“Maybe Vinny Jr. can come over and help Paulie sort out this guitar mess for us”
Brrrrrinng… Brrrrinnng… Brrrrinnng…
“Hello, Buttavinci’s residence”
“Hello Helen, this is Marty, is Vinny Sr. available ?”
“Hold on, I’ll go get him”
“Yeah, Hello, this is Vin”
“Vin, Marty Nosterelli here, how are things?”
“Oh, hi Marty, things are going well, business is booming, what can I do for you?”
“Well you know, my Paulie bought a guitar from a yard sale with his own money. We are really quite proud of him showing such initiative. The wife and I are a just little concerned about him dressing up like some kind of Japanese Kabuki drag queen, but the kid loves music and we want to assist him in his musical endeavors. Do you think Vinny Jr could come over and help little Paulie learn how to play that guitar a little bit?”
“Certainly Marty. You know I’ll never forget what you did for the business that one time. I’ll talk to Vinny Jr. and have him come pay Paulie a visit.”
“ Thanks Vin, it is much appreciated.”
“No problem Marty, I’m glad I can be of some assistance.”
The very next Saturday Vinny Buttavinci Jr, now in his late 20s, shows up to the Nosterelli’s house with a suitcase in one hand and a Fender Champ in the other.
“Hi Mrs Nosterelli. I’m here to help Paulie with his guitar”.
“Oh hi Vinny, it’s so very nice to see you. Paulie is up in his room”
Vinny Buttavinci Jr is considered one of the top guitarists in the Springfield area. He started his musical career at age 13 when he played at the Millard Fillmore Jr High School talent show. He showed up to the 1959 talent show with a group of high school students who all had brand new Fender guitars and amplifiers. Vinny’s band also featured a hot shot drummer named Carlo Scarpucci who was rumored to be working for Vinny’s dad at some of his downtown clubs. It all seemed a bit shady, but what do I know?
I’m just a guitar.
“Hey Paulie, I’m Vinny, Let’s take a look at your guitar.”
That was a turning point in my life, the moment that Paulie opened up the case and revealed to Vinny a 1958 Silvertone Jupiter 1423.
“Where did you get this?”
“I got it from the Johnston’s yard sale down the street”
Vinny’s eyes lit up and he was instantly transported back to 1959 and the Jr High School talent show
“ I remember this guitar, it used to be Tommy’s, I remember when he got it for Christmas.”
Vinny proceeded to tell Paulie, the whole story about my origin, where i was made, how much I cost when I was brand new and the tragically funny story about Tommy Johnston and his unfortunate debut.
“Ha ha ha. The Twangers…. we mopped the floor with those guys.”
Vinny opens up his suitcase which is full of tools and cords and guitar parts in it, and very carefully and skillfully puts new strings on me. He lovingly put gun oil on my tuning gears. (Oh my god that feels great), all the while, telling Paulie about each and every part of my corporeal form.
“ These are your pickups, these are the selector switches, this is your master volume knob.”
Paulie looks on in amazement, but soaks it up like a sponge. He does not know why this adult man is being so patient and helpful to him, but he is on board for everything that he has to say. Vinny gets all six strings on and stretches and flexes me, in expert fashion. (Oh my Lord Jesus, yes). Nobody has ever touched me like this in my life. He strikes a tuning fork and puts the ball end on my hungry, semi hollow body.
I sing like castrato alter boy at Easter !! I am a Silvertone after all.
I’ve got a jangly resonant sound that all semi hollow body guitars have. I’m pleasantly audible without being plugged in. I vibrate with every note played on me. You hear the wood, metal, Masonite and plastic, all at once. I’ve got this natural, harmonic “dirt” already built in. I’m not an expensive guitar but I am appreciated by many players for being functional and funky.
I’m also in the hands of Vinny Buttavinci, which is not a bad place for a 18 year old guitar to be. He plugs me into the Fender Champ, and turns all the knobs on “7”. I instantly begin to ‘howl’ and squeal and groan and scream as Vinny proceeds to play ‘Purple Haze’ by Jimi Hendrix.
Paulie just stares in amazement with his mouth agape. The raw power of his guitar being plugged into this little amplifier is astounding. Mr. and Mrs Nosterelli look at each other with shock at the sound coming from little Paulie’s bedroom.
I am sitting on a guitar stand, onstage at one of the Buttavinci’s nightclubs.
Paulie Nostrils is fronting his own band called ‘Black Diamond’. They are a KISS influenced original outfit that plays all over the region. Paulie is a handsome young man that is not quite even old enough to be in nightclubs, but he seems to get a pass from the owners because he’s become an accomplished guitarist and a pretty good band leader. ‘The kid works hard’, is what Vinny Buttavinci Sr. would always say, and that is high praise coming from the old man.
Paulie is front and center holding a black Ibanez ‘Iceman’ with beautiful white binding. It’s a damned sexy guitar he’s playing. I am relegated to being the back up guitar. I am second place to the Iceman that Paulie prefers as his main axe. I will always be the guitar that Paulie learned on. I’ve got some well earned ‘wear and tear’ from just being played a lot. Over and over, Paulie worked on chords and scales every day. I am the instrument that he held in his hands when he wrote his very first songs. I am the featured guitar on ‘The Nostrils’ cassette. Paulie’s first band and first foray into a studio.
When most people hear that tape, their first impression is, ‘Damn, that kid can play’ partly because I sound fucking awesome in the studio along with the Fender Champ that Vinny gave him. Silvertone and Champ was like peanut butter and jelly. Two things that simply go perfect with each other. That ‘Nostrils’ recording session is the highlight of my 21 years on this planet.
For now, I am resting in a guitar stand watching Paulie play the Iceman through a JCM 100 half stack. At least I have 6 strings on me and I’m in tune. I’m ready to be played at any given moment. I am the back up guitar and I do my job well.
I guess I should have seen this coming, but Paulie ‘Nostrils’ has sold me off to a guy named “Dumpster”. It’s like I’m a baseball player who just got traded to another team, or even worse, sent back down to the minor leagues. But the writing has been on the wall for quite some time, and like I said, I should have seen this coming…But I’m just a guitar.
Paulie had been buying and collecting guitars for a few years now. I should have known when I first saw that tobacco-burst Les Paul Custom get added to his collection, that my days of being a ‘show’ guitar were over. I’ve had some problems lately also. My rosewood bridge had always been a weakness on guitars like me.
Since it’s not screwed down, the bridge can move. If you slide the bridge around underneath the strings, that means your intonation is kinda fucked. Not just ‘kinda’… it’s totally fucked up. At one point, at a club gig, the bridge just flopped forward during a solo because of a technique that Paulie did with palm of his right hand. He pushed a little too hard on the tiny little wooden bridge and it fell onto the stage floor. Making the strings go slack, and now just resting on the magnetic pick ups.
Paulie put me back into the cradle of the guitar stand and I’ve never played another Black Diamond show again.
I’ve got other problems too.
Donald “Dumpster” Dempsey, aka ‘Trashman’, ‘Donnie Dumpster’ and sometimes just ‘Dump’… is the guitarist for an anarchist punk rock band ‘Teef’. They caught a bit of recognition with their first single ‘Kick Yer Teef In’ and their follow up ‘(We Are) The Janitors of Anarchy’.
He lives in a 60 ft trailer out near Chinaburgh, on a little piece of land that he inherited. It’s the last little remnant, left over from the famous Dempsey Farm of the area.In the 60’s Donnie’s father sold the farm to the city for the purpose of becoming a landfill. The last remaining scion of the Dempsey name basically just lived off the largesse of the city dump. Hence the nickname, Dumpster. He has first pick of anything that comes into the dump and has quite an impressive little junkyard scattered with a weird, random precision, in and around his little trailer.
His landscape has a musical theme. There are drums and a tuba as flowerpots. A raised bed garden that is made from a gutted Marshall cabinet. Guitar necks sticking up from the ground. It’s so very ‘low rent’ looking, but ‘artistic’.
This is my new home, which is disturbingly close to the landfill where many broken guitars like me end up forever
Paulie had Donnie do some roadie work and some speaker repair. Actually, Paulie owed Donnie few hundred dollars for all the work and abuse that he threw at ‘Ol Dumpster’ Donnie was pretty good at fixing stuff and getting band equipment to be ‘show ready’ and he’s always had an eye for ‘That old Silvertone you got’. Paulie finally gave in and finally handed me to Dump by the neck.
“So, this make us even?”
“Yeah Paulie, were good”
“You still gonna work next week’s show?”
“Yeah, I’ll be here at 8:00, just like normal”
Both men holding me by the neck while these negotiations went on. By my estimations and calculations,,,, my value is somewhere north of a thousand dollars. Paulie owes Dump quite a bit, and he will almost instantly regret letting go of his first guitar.
So there I am, on Donnie Dumpster’s workbench/breakfast table in his squalid little trailer. It looks like Frankenstein’s laboratory. I’m scared. There are screwdrivers, hammers, jigsaws, pickguards, soldering irons, jacks and chords everywhere. There’s a carcass of a Hondo bass in the corner. I don’t want to be dissembled for parts!
I want to be a whole guitar…That gets played….
I wish I was back in the studio with Paulie Nosterelli. But I’ve been played hard since I was rediscovered in 1976.
I’ve got real issues that old Silvertones usually don’t get fixed. I wish I could tell you that I got anesthesia before Donnie Dumpster started coming at me with a screwdriver and a router. I woke up with no hope of retaining any semblance of ‘vintage value’. I’ve been altered so much that no guitar shop or collector will even look at me twice. I’ll try to explain in layman’s terms what modifications have been made on me, and it may still sound a bit wonky with guitar jargon.
The first thing you will notice is that the original pickup in the bridge position is replaced with a DiMarzio double humbucker. Donnie just yanked the original DeArmond ‘soap bar’ pickup out and routed a hole big enough to put the double coil. The bridge is created out of a brass door hinge and a Gibson ‘tune-O-matic’ bottled all the way through the body of the guitar and into a another door hinge in the back. I’m positive that those door hinges came directly out of the city dump. He put some new Schecter tuning heads on and did a few rather expert neck adjustments. I look ugly as fuck, but Donnie did a pretty good job with all of this. I’m in very good shape and very playable.
(Later on, Donnie would get a patent for the bridge that is based upon a door hinge). I still have a single coil ‘lipstick’ pick up in the neck position. I still have that cool trapeze style tailpiece. I’ve got six strings on me. I hold a tune better than I ever have and I think I have a show coming up in two weeks at a place called Sneaky’s
Finally.. the night of the big ‘Teef’ show.
Sneaky’s is filled to the rafters with Punkers and Socials, all dressed to the teeth in their mid eighties garb. The Fire Marshal has the place rated at 420 , but it’s clearly way past capacity. The guest list is enormous. There are record industry people here, there are photographers and media types in attendance. There are minors drinking, kids dancing, and every band that is not working on this night , including all the members of The Nostrils are all here.
This is the place to be.
Paulie Nosterelli has a great vantage point by being in the backstage area so he can watch his friend Dumpster in his element. The opening bands have played their sets and the stage is being littered with trashcan drums and detritus and sundry garbage which is a feature of every Teef show. The lights go down and the opening music starts up.
It’s fittingly, Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street singing ‘I Love Trash”
When the lights come up you see Donnie ‘Dumpster’ Dempsey holding up a heavily modified 1958 Silvertone Jupiter 1423 and wearing a 30 gallon black trash bag as a shirt. 500 sweaty souls start chanting ‘Dumpster!’ ‘Dumpster!’ ‘Dumpster!’ Donnie plugs me in, and instantly, I begin to howl….And screech… And wail…
The combination of my semi hollow body and new double coil humbucking pickup and the ‘who knows what’ half stack and amp are just screaming with feedback. The Dumpster faces his amp to create even more pig squeal before he launches into the opening riff to ‘Janitors of Anarchy’
I am not just a back up guitar tonight. I am the star of the show and I am being played more aggressively than I ever have. It feels tremendous.
Donnie is a real showman, he’s able to coax this amazing harmonic distortion and feedback and able to ‘get to zero sound’ between songs, while his singer talks to the audience. Teef also has a remarkably beautiful power ballad called “Balls Deep in Your Mom” where Donnie uses the original neck pickup that is not quite as ‘hot’ as the DiMarzio, with a flick of the master switch. Everyone here knows that the show is not over until the band plays ‘Kick Your Teef In”.
Paulie stands in the wings and watches in amazement and tries to figure a way to buy his guitar back from ‘Dump’
It’s been 11 years since my first ’Teef’ show.
The band had a pretty good run and I got to go on tour a few times. I was used for the video of ‘Kick Your Teef In’ and I’ve been recorded for two cassettes and and a CD. Sneaky’s has closed its doors and is now an Goodwill Store.
Danelectro has been reissuing Silvertone guitars in some vibrant colors, (Banana Yellow, Aqua, Hot Pink, etc.) all in the $300-$400 range. Some of the old vintage Silvertones, made in the late 50s and early 60s can fetch a few thousand, but collectors are picky, and they don’t like ‘modifications’. Donnie has kept me in good working order and he still has the original case with the 5 Watt amp.
For a 36 year old guitar, I’m in pretty good shape. I’ve done lots of things and been part of some pretty epic situations.
Many guitars that are Christmas presents sometimes never get to play shows, get recorded, or go on tour. I feel fortunate that I did not end up in the landfill.
Donnie Dumpster has been working as a guitar tech for some pretty big bands on tour. His willingness to go ‘anywhere’ on a moments notice and his ability to keep a band running with duct tape and bailing wire makes him a valuable asset to bands that are touring on a shoestring. There was work with GWAR, Butthole Surfers, Cowboy Mouth and Better Than Ezra and most recently Slobberbone. He had some high dollar work with Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. All of these bands were familiar with Teef and the notorious ‘Dumpster’. He enjoyed letting people play his Ol’ Silvertone. Quite a few guitarists asked about his ‘Door Hinge’ bridge.
‘Can you put one on this ES335?”
‘I don’t know, 200 bucks?”
“Okay, do it, how soon can you get it back to me?”
‘I don’t know, tomorrow?”
It was almost like free money to Donnie, but several guitars started getting these homemade bridges.
With the sales of Teef records, a good salary and bonuses from all the touring, Donnie was able to move out of his little trailer near the city landfill. He sold the last little piece of Dempsey Farms and rotting trailer for close to $200,000. Not bad for an aging punk rocker.
A big 80s festival show was coming through town with several bands on the bill from the early MTV heyday.
Teef was asked to play, even though they were mostly a regional act. Each band had their own tent and Joan Jett came over to visit the Teef tent to talk to ‘The Dumpster’
“Hey Man, that’s a really cool guitar” she says to Donnie.
“I used to have one just like it, It was my very first guitar”
That was all it took to get Dump and Joan to talk rapturously about old Silvertones. They swapped stories and songs for a couple of hours. Joan talked about listening to Teef cassettes on the tour bus and Donnie told her about gear and equipment and shoes. Dumpster was completely enamored with Joan and watched her entire set from the wings.
When the night was finally over and the bands were about to go their own ways.. Donnie went up to Joan with the Silvertone case and guitar.
“Here, take it with you on tour.”
“Im not gonna be playing any shows for a while, because I’m doing road work for the Ozzy Osmond tour”
“I’ll be in New York in September and I’ll get it back from you then”
September 2001 came and went.
Everyone has a story about that period in time and it seems to hit New Yorkers especially hard. Joan had read on the internet about the Ozzy Osmond tour bus crash in July , where five people died. There was an instant internet legend born that day, when it was told that the survivors of the crash all lived because the heroic effort of their kind hearted roadie… A guy they called ‘Dumpster’
Joan couldn’t help but to think about the last night of the festival and the gracious way that Donnie handed over the guitar and case with no questions asked. It was just….’Here, take it, I’ll come get it later”
It was one of the kindest gestures she could think of. Donnie knew how much Joan loved her old Silvertone and just offered her the care of the guitar that made him ‘semi famous’.
I guess I don’t need to tell you how the rest of September 2001 went.
I was sent to one of Joe Walsh’s luthiers and was given a new fret job and and had some restoration.
The few things that stayed the same were the ‘Door Hinge’ bridge and the DiMarzio humbucker and the belt buckle scratched ‘Teef’ sticker on the back of the glitter paint body. Joan would sometimes have her guitar tech bring me out at shows and she would always dedicate the song she played.
‘This one goes out to the Dumpster”
Often it was her rendition of the Mary Tyler Moore theme song called “Love is All Around” because she knew how much he loved the song.
‘Joan, that is the most punk rock thing I’ve ever seen”
“It’s like a feminist anthem through your voice”
‘Very powerful shit, man”
“Every little girl who ever picks up a guitar, should learn THAT song”
Donnie was forever the punk rocker and in Joan, he felt he had found his kindred spirit. I was part of Joan Jett’s arsenal for 12 years. I sometimes feel like I’m the luckiest guitar to ever be made.
Joan alwaysj had a strange ambivalence about me. She had much love for the semblance I had of her first guitar, but the thing that touched her the most was Donnie Dumpster. Everybody that encountered “Ol Dump” just loved him.
He had a can-do attitude and a revolutionaries’ spirit.
“When life hands you garbage, make some fuckin art, man”
He was forever seeing something good in broken or discarded items. His drummer, Mickey Turnball was despondent about getting sideswiped in his truck giving it superficial dents on the drivers side. Donnie just said ,
“Aww Turdball, I think it makes your truck look better, it gives it character, No one in the world has a truck exactly like yours now.” That’s what you got with Donnie, always the optimist and always, “Yeah, that can be fixed, I’ll make it even better.”
Joan still felt a tinge of guilt in keeping me in her guitar collection. She looked on the internet about the legend that built up about Donnie Dumpster. The internet had grown up quite a bit and there was copious amounts of virtual ink spilled on the cult artist and his band. There was even a Facebook page dedicated to him, where people from all over told stories of his quotes and songs and his good natured soul. With all the tours he worked on, he reached a lot of people. Whenever people talked about Teef shows, it would always be about ‘Dumpster and that weird guitar he played’.
It seems that I had outlived the guy who made me ‘semi famous’. It also seemed that I have outlived my usefulness to Joan. She only takes 6 guitars on tour these days and I am no longer in that rotation. She tried to contact the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame about me and they just said, “Who?”
Brrring… Brrring… Brrring…
“This is Joan, leave a message”
‘Hello, Ms.Jett….Joan….This is Vinny Buttavinci Jr. I’ve been told that you have the Dumpster Silvertone? I would like to talk to you about maybe buying that guitar for my niece, Veronica. If you’re amenable to that, please call me back at *** *** ****.”
A few days later Joan called Vinny Jr. back and they commenced negotiations the price on my headstock. The two guitarists became fast ‘phone friends’ as they discussed old guitars and talent shows and club owners and Paulie Nostrils and Tommy Johnston. Eventually, I was sold to Vinny for $3,500 . The high price was mostly for sentimental reasons but also a way that Vinny would cement his relationship with Joan. In the cost was built-in as a way of saying thank you for being a good steward of this ‘funky old guitar’.
February 14, 2019
60 years later from the Millard Fillmore Jr. High School Talent Show in 1959
I am in the hands of Veronica Buttavinci, aged 13. who stands in the center of the gymnasium surrounded by large stacks of Marshall amps and Anvil cases and a mobile lighting system. She has her pre-teen BFFs with her on stage. I’ve got Hello Kitty stickers on me. I’m plugged in by a Shure wireless system. I’m running through a vast display of foot pedals. Everything around me and Veronica says ‘money’.
Veronica and her friends play a shouty rendition of “Love is All Around” that her Uncle Vinny showed her and insisted that they play. There were cell phone cameras all over the gymnasium that night. Videos got posted to social media. The exuberance on these girls faces was infectious as they badly played the song. Nobody cared how technically proficient it was. What you saw was girls just having fun. Videos were shared thousands of times on YouTube from many different angles. It’s the most exposure I had ever had in my entire life.
By April, Veronica decided she was going to focus on cheerleading and soccer and I was sold to the Southside Pawn Shop for an undetermined amount.
I’m now hanging on the wall amongst Washburns and Fenders and Ibanez guitars with a yellow hang tag that says $67.99… I got a 60 hz hum and a few dead frets…..
Hey, Wait!! Come back here and look at me. I am some vintage ass shit! I’m not beyond repair, just a little neglected…. Yeah, I got some stickers on me…