Life lived through music

Published 2:21 pm Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wayne “Gabby” Kendrick of Chelsea eats and sleeps music.

Well, not quite.

He doesn’t actually take a musical instrument to bed with him, his wife Sherldean said. But he does keep a harmonica in the bedroom –– as well as in every other room in their house, including the bathroom.

Even though he doesn’t make music in his sleep, his days are filled with it. He even plays music while cutting their grass, his wife said.

“He guides the tractor with one hand and holds a harmonica with the other,” she said. “And he has been known to play one while driving down the road.”

Her husband has turned the third bedroom in their house into a music room.

“There’s nothing in there but music stuff,” she said.

Kendrick owns and plays several guitars, a fiddle and cases the size of a briefcase full of harmonicas.

“I want to get a holder for my (mouth harps), where I can pick and play the harp at the same time,” said Kendrick.

He and several other “pickers and grinners,” from neighboring towns — just anyone who wants to play — get together every week at the Childersburg Community Center. They gather around 8 a.m. Wednesdays and play until 1 or 2 in the afternoon.

He and some of his music-making buddies also play at nursing homes, community centers and senior citizen events, anyplace people will let them play.

Recently, a group of them got together at the Chelsea Center for a session with guitars, banjo and Kendrick’s harmonicas. A few friends and neighbors, who also enjoyed a country dinner of pinto beans and corn bread, joined in singing old gospel, country and Christmas songs.

“He’s in hog heaven right now,” Kendrick’s wife remarked, as she watched him making music with his friends.

Shelba Nivens can be reached by e–mail at