Morley musician reminisces over harmony through jamming

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, February 16, 2017

Buddy Wesley bonds friendships through music and memories. Photo by Warren Harbeck

Buddy Wesley joined Mary Anna and me at our table the other day and took us on a harmonious journey down memory lane.

The Morley musician is well known around Cochrane for his appearances at events such as the annual Nakoda-Cochrane Pickin’ Party. (See my column for Oct. 20, 2010 on his stellar rendition of Starry, Starry Night.)

Sip by sip, Buddy was soon reminiscing over the joys of jamming.

But it was his memories of jamming at a summertime Gospel camp meeting back in the mid-1970s outside the home of his father, the late Peter Wesley, at Morley that plucked the heart strings of our own memories, for we were there, too.

Some of the men in the community had erected and wired the 200-seat twin-peaked tent earlier in the day. A team of women had readied the food-service shack and began baking bannock while the stew simmered.

As the early arrivers were finishing their supper, several local musicians pulled up to the tent, unloaded their guitars and amplifiers from the back of their pickups, and started setting up on the platform inside the tent.

There was Buddy’s brother Clarence Wesley with his fiddle and steel guitar. At other times during the summer he would be out on the All-Indian Rodeo circuit winning buckles.

The late Rod Mark readied his bass guitar. In the following years, he would become a teacher, principal and director of education with the Stoney Nakoda First Nation.

Charlie Mark was on rhythm guitar. He worked days in the community’s transportation department. This night he was going to play music about travelling to heaven. By the way, Charlie and I share something really neat: we were born on exactly the same day back in 1940.

And of course, Buddy Wesley was there. Highly regarded as an instructor in classical and western guitar, he would play lead guitar.

All four fellows had plenty to keep themselves busy elsewhere. But not this night. Their good friend, Cherokee evangelist Charles Enloe from Oklahoma – known throughout the community simply as “Brother Charles” – had arrived, and the four were providing backup for his singing.

Soon I could hear them trying out a few toe-tapping bluegrass melodies before the evening service. Later that year the four would team up with Brother Charles again to record an LP that I’ll treasure all my life: A Vision of Jesus. (I had the privilege of shooting its cover photo.)

After the service, the four musicians began jamming again. Mary Anna and I lingered and listened.

“That was when we really came alive,” Buddy recalled, grinning.

Each knew the songs that welled up in their fellow musicians’ souls. Surrendering their fingers to invisible notes and being attentive to each other’s subtle signals, they played as one.

It was about harmony in the spirit of sensitivity and beauty.

Thanks for the memories, Buddy.


© 2017 Warren Harbeck

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