essays, poems        & stories


Ramblin’ Boy

by Mark Dvorak

It was the spring of 1988 and I had been teaching at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago for about a year and a half. The Armitage building had undergone a complete renovation the year before and the place looked great. Our staff and faculty was very small when compared to the hundreds of teachers, employees and administration working at the school currently.

When the front desk person went on lunch break, it was customary that someone hanging around in the lobby between classes would make himself available to cover the phone and handle student registration and so forth.

So there I was sitting at the front desk, waiting for the phone to ring and Tom Paxton walks in the door. Tom was and still is, a musical hero of mine. I had seen him perform here and there by that time, but had never met him.

So he asks me if the executive director is in as they two had set up a meeting to discuss Tom playing at the school. I phoned upstairs and let the guy know that Tom Paxton was here.

“Please ask him to have a seat and I’ll be down in five minutes,” he said.

Tom took a chair and there we were sitting together in the front office of the Old Town School of Folk Music. The phone still hadn’t rung, so I felt a kind of obligation to try and make some chit-chat.

“Tom,” I asked, “was ‘Ramblin’ Boy’ your first record?”

paxton

“You mean that record I made when I still had hair? Yes it was,” and we both laughed.

“I have to tell you,” I said, “I love that record. It’s a great record. There was a time when I could straight out sing and play every song on that record all the way through.”

Tom nodded and seemed genuinely flattered.

“In fact,” I said, “I learned to finger pick guitar with that record.”

“Mark,” said Tom, “so did I. So did I."

10.31.20


Stay in touch • info AT markdvorak.com • PO Box 181 • Brookfield IL 60513 • 312 315 4273