My partner Aimee and I have two sons, Elliot and Oscar. I often include a mention of them in articles on Rootfire, so that may not be a surprise. We all live upstairs from my brother Matt and his partner Rachel who are in the band Thunder Body, and their baby boy named Jasper Sage. Oscar is the youngest in the house, and turns two on St. Patrick’s Day. Like everyone else in our home, he has become mildly obsessed with The Wood Brothers.
A few weeks ago when we asked Oscar what he wanted for his birthday, without hesitation, he yelled one word: “BASS!”
He’s talking about Chris Wood’s bass; he wants an Upright Bass for his second birthday. Let that one sink in.
Alright- the first obvious concern, of which there are many- Oscar is about two and a half feet tall.
A few days later I head out on a search, my first stop Bernunzio’s Uptown Music looking for, in my best case scenario, something like a Cello with a slightly cracked neck. I want to get something Oscar can actually kind of play, but I also have zero intention of spending any large sum of money on what will surely end up getting banged around, a lot.
I am not all that let down when Bernunzio’s does not have what I’m looking for. I know it was a long shot. Before I leave the sales rep Ryan, (who informs me he’s been jamming with Aaron Lipp lately), hands me a business card that simply says ‘stringed instrument services’ with a phone number and suggests I reach out. When I call the number a woman answers. I tell her the situation….”my 2 year old is asking for an upright bass, etc.”
She says something along the lines of, “alright, let me do a little research and call you back.”
The woman was receptive to the situation; however, I wasn’t anticipating her calling me back with the dream $25 kind-of-busted, not-actually-a-bass, bass I was searching for.
But, she did one better when a few days later I received a message saying that she had found a Viola, that was “slated for…well nothing!” And had thrown some strings on it for me. I was welcome to come down to the store and pick it up. If I thought it would work for my baby, it was ours to have, free of charge.
All four of us jumped in the car and took a drive out to Fairport, NY – to The Violin Shop.
After searching the quaint little main street drag I found the place tucked in the side of a small building. The kids had fallen asleep, so Aimee sends me in solo.
Here I am, the scruffy looking 30 something year old, walking into a violin shop- to pick up a free viola. I’m feeling a little weird, but the genuine sincerity of the woman’s voicemail tells me it’s going to be alright.
When I walk in a man walks out from a back room. The entire place is filled with beautiful stringed instruments. Basses, violins, cellos- all of it. Gorgeous wood everywhere.
“Hi. I called about a bass for my two year old…. And…”
“Oh yeah, ok let’s see here- yeah here it is” says the man.
He hands me a viola. It has new strings on it. It’s aged and worn and beautiful. He tells me it was a rental and is just too worn down to get rented again.
He suggests that I fashion some sort of stand for it- to give it some more height.
I shake his hand, and after thanking him again, run out to the car with our new treasure, and an ear to ear smile on my face.
These people sell stringed instruments for a living- that’s all they sell. They gave us a free Viola. I’m completely floored at the generosity and kindness of this act. Imagine if everyone was this kind and thoughtful?
I’m proud to say, later that afternoon, I whittled an acceptable stand that gives the Viola about another foot in height, a perfect upright bass for Oscar. It’s gonna work great, I wonder if Chris Wood had one like it as a kid? It’s on.
Make it better. Go brighten someone’s day today.