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Charles Flenory Interview

Detroit House of God, Keith Dominion musician Charles Flenory plays both standard guitar and steel guitar.  He was born in 1948 in Cleveland, Ohio where his father served as an elder in the Church of the Living God, Jewell Dominion.  As the Flenorys were one of several families that moved from the Jewell Dominion to the Keith Dominion in the early 1950s, his music reflects influences from the Jewell Dominion tradition.  He started playing guitar when he was about sixteen and a few years later began to play steel guitar for worship services.  As he listened to country pedal-steel guitarists play on the radio, he found renowned Nashville studio musician Lloyd Green especially inspiring.  Charles became one of the earliest to play pedal-steel guitar in the House of God.   In 1963, he established Gospel Sounds Record Corporation and bartered carpenter work for lessons from former Motown engineers.

– Robert L. Stone

Mt Canaan

The Robert Stone Sacred Steel Archive:
Charles Flenory Interview

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  • The Robert Stone Sacred Steel Archive: Charles Flenory Interview 00:00
Interviewee: Charles Flenory Interview
Interviewer: Robert Stone
Date: 2/3/98
Location: 
Language: English

For the archive overview:
The Robert Stone Sacred Steel Archive

This is an interview originally recorded for research purposes. It is presented here in its raw state, unedited except to remove some irrelevant sections and blank spaces. All rights to the interview are reserved by the Arhoolie Foundation. Please do not use anything from this website without permission. info@arhoolie.org

Charles Flenory Interview Transcript:

Robert Stone:

This is Bob Stone. I’m interviewing Charles Flenory, Sacred Steel player. I’m in Memphis, Tennessee. It’s February 13th, 1998. Let’s just start with when and where you were born so we can…

Charles Flenory:

Okay. When I was born was in 1948 Cleveland, Ohio.

Robert Stone:

Okay.

Lucille Flenory:

March 18th.

Robert Stone:

Now, did you… Yeah, March…

Charles Flenory:

18th.

Robert Stone:

18th. Your family started in the Jewell Dominion. Is that right?

Charles Flenory:

Exactly? Yes. My father was an elder in the Jewell Dominion.

Robert Stone:

He was an elder in a Jewell Dominion. What was your father’s name?

Charles Flenory:

My father’s name was George T. Flenory. My mother’s name was Mary Francis Flenory.

Robert Stone:

What was her maiden name?

Charles Flenory:

Her maiden name was Gates. Mary Gates.

Robert Stone:

Gates.

Charles Flenory:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). A lot of Gates and a lot of Flenorys was in the Jewell Dominion. In fact, both had big, large families. My mother came from 13 children. My father came from I would say nine or 10.

Robert Stone:

Now, where were they from? Did they come from Ohio or did they come from the south?

Charles Flenory:

My dad came from Philadelphia. He was born in that area and gravitated to the Cleveland Ohio area. My mother came from Pontotoc, Mississippi and gravitated into Cleveland.

Robert Stone:

Where is that?

Charles Flenory:

She was born… It’s in Mississippi.

Robert Stone:

Do you know where?

Charles Flenory:

No, I’ve never been.

Robert Stone:

Is it around this end or it’s down south or do you know?

Charles Flenory:

It’s South.

Robert Stone:

South part of Mississippi.

Charles Flenory:

Right. Southern part of Mississippi. Tupelo and Pontotoc not too far from each other, so she was around there in that area.

Robert Stone:

All right. I’ll look it up on the map, just curious. Was your father a musician? How did you get started playing?

Charles Flenory:

My father was a singer, and he sang quartets and duets and singing and things like that. Now, I’m not such a great singer, but music was my… When I was about five years old, I really got interested in music.

Robert Stone:

What did you start on? What instrument?

Charles Flenory:

I didn’t start playing guitar until I was 16 or 17, which was a late start for that, but they’ve always bought me one. I could strum and make rhythms and things like that. That’s why I kind of have a little gift for rhythms and things like that.

Robert Stone:

Was there anybody around to help you?

Charles Flenory:

Maynard Sopher. This is the guy that started-

Robert Stone:

Sulford?

Charles Flenory:

Sopher.

Robert Stone:

Can you spell it?

Charles Flenory:

S-H-O-

Lucille Flenory:

No, Sopher. S-O-P-H-E-R.

Charles Flenory:

I’m sorry. Right. That’s right.

Robert Stone:

S-O-P-H-E-R.

Charles Flenory:

Right, which is Calvin Cooke’s first cousin and my first cousin, so he started me out playing old E chords and just standard C things and things like that.

Robert Stone:

So he showed you how to tune it and some chords.

Charles Flenory:

Showed me how to tune it, chords and all that on the lead guitar.

Robert Stone:

Acoustic?

Charles Flenory:

Yes. It was acoustic because we didn’t have a lot of electric guitars back then.

Robert Stone:

Now, you do some of the old finger-picking with the thumb.

Charles Flenory:

I got that from… I heard Harvey Jones, which you may know something about this guy, Harvey Jones that played with Lorenzo Harrison. He was the number one rhythm or lead guitar player that played with Lorenzo Harrison. He drove Bishop Jewell and Lorenzo and he and whoever traveled with them, those two guys.

Robert Stone:

He was the driver.

Charles Flenory:

Right. He did most of the driving. Along with Lorenzo; Lorenzo drove also.

Robert Stone:

That’s already a little later. Anyhow, you got started. When did you start playing in services and stuff?

Charles Flenory:

Okay. I didn’t start playing in services until… My dad used to take Calvin and Maynard and Starlin. Harrison, which is Henry Harrison’s, one of his sons. All of them traveled together with Bishop Campbell when Bishop Campbell was just a preacher, which is Chuck’s father. Now, I didn’t know of Chuck or Bishop Campbell or elder Campbell back then or anything. My father used to take them every summer on the road, traveling with Bishop Harrison, which is Henry Harrison. After Calvin would leave Cleveland, then a guy named Gary Cooke, which is Calvin’s brother, and I started playing in services, which would be… I was 15 or 16 years old. That would be…

Robert Stone:

Yeah. Well, we can figure that out, but you were 15, 16 years old when you started playing in services on the guitar.

Charles Flenory:

On the guitar. I was late, late bloomer. All these other guys, Calvin’s brother, all of them guys, played in service a lot sooner than I did. I just was content just to watch.

Robert Stone:

Calvin’s about five years-

Charles Flenory:

Older than I am.

Robert Stone:

…three, five years older than you.

Charles Flenory:

Right.

Robert Stone:

I think Calvin and I are the same age. I’m 53.

Charles Flenory:

Yeah. Calvin and you are the same age.

Robert Stone:

When did you start playing steel?

Charles Flenory:

I started playing steel when Calvin came back off the road. Gary Cooke and I used to switch around sometimes, and Calvin heard my playing. That would be…

Lucille Flenory:

Wasn’t that in… because I met you in …

Charles Flenory:

You can speak up. You don’t have to whisper.

Robert Stone:

It’s all right. This is very informal.

Charles Flenory:

This is the interview. Right.

Lucille Flenory:

Okay, when I met you was in 66 because we … in ’67-

Charles Flenory:

Yeah, I was playing before ’66.

Lucille Flenory:

You was playing before that, so it was a few years before that.

Charles Flenory:

Three, two years before ’66.

Lucille Flenory:

I would say about ’65, ’66.

Charles Flenory:

No. ’64.

Lucille Flenory:

About ’64 or ’65 you started playing in the services.

Charles Flenory:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lucille Flenory:

On the steel.

Charles Flenory:

On the steel.

Robert Stone:

What kind of instrument-

Charles Flenory:

Did I have? I had an uncle that played, which is named Eugene Gates. He played in the Jewell Dominion. He wasn’t as popular as Lorenzo or none of those guys. He loaned me a guitar that he had. I forget the name of it. I’d have to call him.

Robert Stone:

Was it eight string or six or?

Charles Flenory:

Six string.

Robert Stone:

Six string.

Charles Flenory:

Lap steel.

Robert Stone:

No legs.

Charles Flenory:

No legs at all, just a lap steel. My parents couldn’t afford to get me one. You know, my first lead guitar, they went to the pawn shop and got me an old Fender Strat. The strings was that high off the neck, so I used to lay it down and play it like a lap steel for a long time, until I was able to purchase me a eight string deluxe.

Robert Stone:

Where did you get that?

Charles Flenory:

Now, I got that… I was 17 when I got that.

Robert Stone:

Is that the one you still have?

Charles Flenory:

The one I still have.

Robert Stone:

It’s a dark mahogany-

Charles Flenory:

Dark brown, real dark painted, eight string deluxe. I had to borrow 68 bucks from my neighbor.

Robert Stone:

Did you buy it brand new?

Charles Flenory:

Bought it brand new.

Robert Stone:

In what year?

Charles Flenory:

I was 17.

Robert Stone:

Okay.

Charles Flenory:

I just had turned 17.

Robert Stone:

So 1966?

Charles Flenory:

Right. That’s when I got that guitar.

Robert Stone:

You still have it.

Charles Flenory:

Still have it. It’s dear to me. I still play it.

Lucille Flenory:

It’s the baby.

Charles Flenory:

She calls it the baby, the baby steel. She always has called it the baby steel.

Lucille Flenory:

It was before the children.

Robert Stone:

Did you go through a evolution of tunings on that or did you…

Charles Flenory:

I went through evolutions of tunings on the six string. I went through evolutions of tunings on the eight string, and I went through evolutions of tuning… She bought me a eight string Fender 400 sunburst cable pull pedal guitar. I was the first one to get one. Before Calvin, before all of them, I was the first to get a-

Robert Stone:

They’re actually, that’s a good sounding guitar too.

Charles Flenory:

It sounds good, but it…

Robert Stone:

Just drive you crazy.

Charles Flenory:

Drive you crazy with them old cable pulls, never was that accurate.

Robert Stone:

When was that?

Lucille Flenory:

We just got married. It was your Christmas present, so it was bought in ’68.

Charles Flenory:

Right.

Robert Stone:

By the way, this is Lucille Flenory.

Charles Flenory:

Flenory. My girlfriend.

Robert Stone:

Your ex-wife.

Charles Flenory:

And my wife. My wife, my girlfriend, and ex-wife. Oh boy.

Lucille Flenory:

I’ve got a new title.

Charles Flenory:

New title.

Robert Stone:

Chuck and those guys just can’t understand.

Charles Flenory:

No, they don’t. They don’t. I know it’s hard to explain that, but she’s a dear friend of mine.

Robert Stone:

My ex-wife and I are good friends.

Charles Flenory:

Oh, dear friend of mine she’d do anything she can within reason for me, and I’d do the same thing. In fact, promises from… I have still promises that I’ll keep, should I ever make anything of this life of mine, she’s still going to be included. I don’t care if she’s married or what, this is just my feel. People can have their own feelings, they can wonder or whatever. That’s just how I am. You know, it’s just the commitment. She put up with a lot of stuff from me back in them early days. Not bad stuff, buying guitars before you get a refrigerator then. I kept my promises though.

Lucille Flenory:

I knew when I met him though he had a great love for music, and that’s what I had respect for. The children and I, we respected that he had a great love for music. Sometimes you have to sacrifice in order to obtain.

Robert Stone:

Yep. I know we all have. How did it go with the pedal steel? So you were the first guy?

Charles Flenory:

The first guy. I won’t say the first guy in our church because there was another guy that was in Toledo, Ohio named Bobby Tolliver. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him.

Robert Stone:

Tolliver?

Charles Flenory:

Bobby Tolliver. Right. Excellent guitar player, more… not like our playing at all. He was a… and he still is living… a jazz steel guitar player.

Robert Stone:

Did he play C6 or something?

Charles Flenory:

Bobby had a offspring of the C6 tune. He played a lot of like a bebop sound, and he was just great. I mean, he was just terrific, but he was just different from everyone.

Robert Stone:

Is he still playing?

Charles Flenory:

He still plays. I don’t know if he plays… It would be… not Cincinnati. We would go through coming to Nashville.

Lucille Flenory:

Youngstown?

Charles Flenory:

No, past all that. That’s the other way. Dayton. He lives in Dayton, Ohio. That’s the type of playing he plays. My hearing him, and he had a rare guitar, I think he still has this guitar. It’s that Gibson with the three pedals on the one-

Robert Stone:

In the corner.

Charles Flenory:

Right. Now, he played that, and he played it very well. Excellent player.

Lucille Flenory:

You were basically the first one I think in our diocese in Cleveland-

Charles Flenory:

To ever get one.

Lucille Flenory:

…to get a pedal.

Charles Flenory:

Right. Calvin got his next.

Lucille Flenory:

Diocese up under Bishop Harrison. It was in our diocese.

Robert Stone:

Now, kind of sidetrack… You told me you… I’m always looking for influences and-

Charles Flenory:

Oh, my influences.

Robert Stone:

Yeah.

Charles Flenory:

My first influence-

Robert Stone:

Specifically, talk about Jerry Byrd too.

Charles Flenory:

Actually Lloyd Green and Jerry Byrd and Pete Drake, which I met Pete Drake one time before he passed. Who is that? The Carter family used to come on TV and their father or grandfather, whichever one of those guys played. All those guys influenced me as well as when I was a baby, my mom said that I love to hear a guy named Fred Neal. Now, Fred Neal was the first guy that introduced still in the Jewell Dominion. That’s the accurate, Fred Neal. Now who perfected it and really made it well was Lorenzo Harrison when he was 18 years old. He started playing at 18. Then Fred Neal went to an upright bass. That’s what he played, upright bass. Now, in the Jewell Dominion, they had a xylophone player, upright bass, Fred Neal, Lorenzo Harrison, and… Who was this guy? Harvey Jones.

Robert Stone:

Harvey Jones, guitar.

Charles Flenory:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Played guitar. Now, a lot of that finger picking stuff.

Robert Stone:

He liked that finger stuff.

Charles Flenory:

Right. A lot of that, I got from hearing some things he did and put some things that I did and some things that Maynard Sopher taught me and things I would create and put all that together.

Robert Stone:

Is that where Ronnie Mozee got a lot of his stuff?

Charles Flenory:

Ronnie Mozee, that’s handed down from… yes, from Harvey Jones. Now, Ronnie Mozee came years and years and years later, but other musicians that played like Harvey Jones or similar, and it just carried on, right. It seems that in our church, every generation get inspired by whatever musicians, and then they just pick up and go. Then they offshoots and offsprings from that.

Charles Flenory:

Then, I got a lot from when I gravitated to Michigan from Ohio when I turned… We were 19, and we moved there in ’68. There’s a guy named Ronnie Hall. I got some things from him, and he was an excellent chord player. He played chords and he still plays chords. He was in a auto accident and got his legs cut off rather recent, not two years ago car hit him. You know, but he plays chords and he played steel like no other steel player, which is another difference from Lorenzo, Calvin, Chuck.

Robert Stone:

Chuck has mentioned him, that he’s real precise.

Lucille Flenory:

He is smooth. Yes.

Charles Flenory:

Right. He’s very smooth. Ronnie Hall is very smooth.

Robert Stone:

Where is he?

Charles Flenory:

He’s in Detroit. This is the guy I want to try to get him, like I said, Ted, me and Calvin on a CD and send it to you and give you some of the Motown sacred steel. Whether it goes anywhere, it doesn’t make any difference.

Robert Stone:

Yeah. I’d love to.

Charles Flenory:

However it’ll go. This is what I want to do. I want to get Ronnie’s influence, which is a guy named Felton Williams, which was in the Jewell Dominion, which he’s not in now. He’s another offshoot from the Jewell Dominion. But these guys-

Robert Stone:

What’s his-

Charles Flenory:

His name is…

Robert Stone:

But where is he?

Charles Flenory:

He lives in-

Robert Stone:

What church is he in?

Charles Flenory:

I’d just say Jewell for right now because I don’t know exact name of this church that he’s in. He’s another spring off from Jewell.

Robert Stone:

But it’s not the Lewis?

Charles Flenory:

No, it’s not Lewis. It’s not Lewis, or it’s not the first born church of living God or none of those other off shoots from our church.

Robert Stone:

Then you started working out this pedal stuff.

Charles Flenory:

I started working out that pedal stuff.

Robert Stone:

Did you kind of figure out together what you were going to do with it?

Charles Flenory:

No. Here’s where Jerry Byrd and Lloyd Green and all these guys play a huge part in my style of playing. Chuck has that drive. I can get that drive, and I have that drive also, but I like more of the melodic things. It doesn’t have to be… It could be up tempo or whatever, but I like the melodic pulling of the pedals and the way we did. I used to do it without pedals, just hearing what I thought the country guys did, and then I’d emulate some of those things and put that in my playing. That’s when I started pulling pedals and setting up my pedal guitar that way. It’s from Lloyd Green, actually, when I used to hear him on Whistler radio in Akron, Ohio and Jerry Byrd in the early days doing that Hawaiian stuff.

Robert Stone:

Jerry Byrd came from Lima. He was born in Lima.

Charles Flenory:

Lima, Ohio. Right. He was born in Ohio, but he lives in Hawaii now, and he used to play a lot of the Hawaiian… The last time I saw him. Right. I slide my bar also.

Robert Stone:

You do?

Charles Flenory:

I can. Right. I can. I don’t do it as much now, but I used to do it a lot in the older days, in my younger time. I love that stuff.

Robert Stone:

Were you’re playing mostly out of a E tuning?

Charles Flenory:

No, F. I played in F.

Robert Stone:

Well, but was it with the F note on top?

Charles Flenory:

F note was the top string, and the low note was F also.

Robert Stone:

Right. So it’d be similar to E tuning, just tuned up one.

Charles Flenory:

Tuned up. Right. It was very taut, and by it being so taut, you could get… Your rings would hold longer, and when you slid down, it was a lot more prettier. E is middle of the road for that guitar, and then you have to move up to get some of these tones. It’s the tones that you would get.

Robert Stone:

Right. It’s like Henry Nelson. He would put the heavy. He’d put strings most people would use for G, and he’d tune up to Bb.

Charles Flenory:

Exactly.

Robert Stone:

When he told me the string gauges he used, I said, man.

Charles Flenory:

He used thick or thin? Thick.

Robert Stone:

Heavy, yeah.

Charles Flenory:

Heavy, that’s what I use.

Robert Stone:

High tension.

Charles Flenory:

On my lower strings. Right. I want high tension to a certain degree. Now, the pedal guitars tend not to be able to take all of that, so you have to stay where they’re designed to pull those pedals and things like that.

Robert Stone:

When did you go into the Keith dominion?

Charles Flenory:

Actually, I was a kid. When the offspring came, whatever they broke up about, my father gravitated to the Keith Dominion because he agreed with whatever that was, and my father and my mother moved to the Keith Dominion. That would be… It would have to be…

Lucille Flenory:

Whenever they split, then they just moved … [inaudible]

Charles Flenory:

About ’51, ’52, somewhere around in there. Whenever that-

Lucille Flenory:

When the split happened…

Charles Flenory:

… split happened.

Lucille Flenory:

He went with the Keith Dominion.

Charles Flenory:

Exactly.

Robert Stone:

It was a long time that they were disputing about it because-

Charles Flenory:

They went to court.

Robert Stone:

Father Tate died in 1930. Right?

Charles Flenory:

Right.

Robert Stone:

So they were like 20 years trying to straighten this out?

Charles Flenory:

More than that, more than 20 years straightening it out, through two chief overseers, which was Keith and didn’t get straightened out until Bishop Jenkins era. Now he was a school teacher. He was very intelligent man. I mean, just because you teach school doesn’t make you intelligent, but he was intelligent. He straightened a lot of things out. He straightened a lot of wording out because in the early days they weren’t as learned on the word and the-

Robert Stone:

Decree Book.

Charles Flenory:

… Decree Book. That’s why it’s so horrible. They got drawings… to me, it is. They got drawings in that’s just horrible. Bishop Jenkins did a lot of straightening out of that. Then they went to court, and then they won the rights to the name. That’s why Bishop Jewell had to change the name and change certain things in their Decree Book and all of these types of things.

Charles Flenory:

He went to court for years and won all these different battles in court, and he started the mending process of them turning around also because he didn’t like holding a grudge. He was a disciplinarian, but he didn’t like that grudge type of thing, and he started healing that by talking and working with them. Then, other people that still had… They had friends, lifelong friends in both dominions that no matter what, and that’s what helped heal the process.

Robert Stone:

Families.

Charles Flenory:

Right. Families, right. That’s what healed the process. That’s why now we can go over there and we’re going to each other’s assemblies and things like that and working together. Then other key figureheads had to die because Bishop Jewell was a disciplinarian also, and you better not go in the Keith Dominion. You know, we put you out of here. That’s how she was. She was the largest woman I have ever seen, tall and large in stature. Wasn’t disproportionate, but she was just… She was bigger than me. Right. She was big, man. Big, just big. I still feel she was anointed because … I’m going to tell you a little story about a butterfly flying in the window at Toledo, Ohio. I was at an assembly of theirs.

Charles Flenory:

Butterfly flew in the window and it’s flying all around. Everybody’s just waving, and it was just destroying the whole service, disrupting the order of service. She had them stop, just stop waving at it. They looked at her and she said, yes, I want you to stop waving at the butterfly. All I want you to do is let’s lift up in a song and play a song and sing a song, and that’s what they did. They lifted up in a song and that butterfly was flying all around. Pretty soon, it flew right on back out another window. I won’t say the same window, another window and that disruption was done with. But all while these people was waving and all that, it kept the service messed up. Now, it’s a strange thing, but it left, and boom, we went on with service, had a nice time. That’s funny thing that happened.

Robert Stone:

You got into the the Keith Dominion, but before that you were in the Jewell Dominion. Okay. You were as a young boy though, so you were-

Charles Flenory:

Oh, I was little. Four or five years old.

Robert Stone:

You weren’t even playing.

Charles Flenory:

Wasn’t playing, but my mother said at five years old, the inspiration to me musically was this guy, Fred Neal. Fred Neil was before Lorenzo, and once he saw that Lorenzo took up playing and he was so good at it, he moved on over to the upright bass.

Robert Stone:

To play the upright bass, which was… There wasn’t even any electric bass.

Charles Flenory:

Was no electric bass back then. It was upright bass.

Robert Stone:

Right. It wasn’t invented yet.

Charles Flenory:

Wasn’t invented.

Robert Stone:

Were you influenced by Harrison’s playing?

Charles Flenory:

I liked Harrison’s playings, but I didn’t like the style of playing because… Well, he was a creator much like Treadway, but he was different than Treadway, Sonny Treadway. He was a strong player. What I mean, he played a lot of melody type of things. He just, he was a tune player, like Sonny Treadway, but stronger tunes than Sonny.

Robert Stone:

More melodic. Yeah.

Charles Flenory:

Yeah, more melodic and all of that, and he could carry a service well. I was influenced very little by some things he did. I liked the smoothness he had as a guitar player, but so far as to play his style, I didn’t care for his style so much.

Robert Stone:

There wasn’t a whole lot going on yet in the Keith Dominion. Who was-

Charles Flenory:

Well, there was a lot going on.

Robert Stone:

Was it Nelson?

Charles Flenory:

See, Nelson was in the northern part.

Robert Stone:

Who were you…

PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:24:04]

Charles Flenory:

… in the Northern part.

Robert Stone:

So who are you hearing?

Charles Flenory:

Who I was hearing was-

Lucille Flenory:

Nelson, was he in the Northern part… ?

Charles Flenory:

No, not Henry Nelson was New York area, Northeast.

Lucille Flenory:

You heard basically Calvin.

Charles Flenory:

Yeah. I heard basically Calvin. I was-

Robert Stone:

Who was only five years older than you, or less.

Charles Flenory:

Yeah, but he started playing a lot sooner than I did because my father used to take him all around Cleveland, Ohio when he gets preaching engagements.

Robert Stone:

So Calvin was your big early influence?

Charles Flenory:

Was my largest influence, early day influence besides Jerry Byrd. Jerry Byrd, Lloyd Green, Pete Drake and-

Robert Stone:

You would buy their records or hear them on the radio?

Charles Flenory:

Hear them on the radio. Dad wouldn’t let me get records and bring them in the house at that time. He grew from a lot of that later on.

Robert Stone:

So-

Charles Flenory:

And as a guitar player-

Robert Stone:

You remember any of the stuff you heard? Any particular tunes that you kind of would stick in your mind and you could call name to?

Charles Flenory:

I can’t call the names to them and then right now I can’t even hum some of them. I might have to get some of my old records and could tell you the tune.

Robert Stone:

I’ve got all that old Jerry Byrd stuff, as far as his solos.

Charles Flenory:

So find it.

Robert Stone:

Were you listening to his solos or his backup on country stuff?

Charles Flenory:

Back up on country stuff. And Lloyd Green’s back up in country songs.

Robert Stone:

So you were into listening to the country music for the steel?

Charles Flenory:

Oh yes. I listened to country music because I also loved Chet Atkins and he developed that the finger thumb picking.

Robert Stone:

How about Merle Travis, did you listen to him?

Charles Flenory:

Merle Travis, more than Merle Travis would be Glen Campbell.

Robert Stone:

You know, there’s a guy here at the thing. I think he might be on tonight and named Eddie Pennington was one of those guys from Kentucky. Thumb picker they call him. Yeah, we’ll look them up and see when he’s on. When I took Willie Eason to middle state Tennessee University, at what’s the name of that town? I want to say Milledgeville, but that’s Georgia. Anyhow. He was there on the same program, but Willie loved it. You know? So anyhow, this is great. This is a little different twist on things.

Charles Flenory:

Oh yeah. And see, these guys really influenced me because I always wondered what the pedals was doing. And I didn’t realize they were using pedals to make those slurs. That’s where I started slanting my bar to get that sound. Then I found out that Lloyd Green still slants his bar and the pedals.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, right …

Charles Flenory:

And he does more on those three foot pedals and four knee levers than the guys doing with the C6 and all of that.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, he is very good.

Charles Flenory:

And his touch is just different than everybody else’s, that’s what I like about it. It’s so soulful, he got to him …(humming). And it’s just really, really moving, really touching. And I hate that he’s retired. I know he had problems, but he’s retired playing. He doesn’t play anymore.

Robert Stone:

Did you then start going down to Nashville to the general assembly?

Charles Flenory:

I played in the general assembly, but at that time, Calvin had a lock on the general assembly for about 19 years, almost 20 years. Ted, Chuck, me and nobody didn’t play steel down there. For almost 19, almost 20 years. After that time, Ted started playing when Bishop Jenkins became the overseer after Bishop Keith passed. That’s when he started playing, but he could only play portions of it at that time. And in that, during that time, that’s where I came in. I played in Nashville a few years. It wasn’t what I desired to do. A lot of the musicians in our church, their largest goal is to play in Nashville, which is the headquarters. I got to play at Nashville, and it’s just like the regular service back then, to me. So it wasn’t that appealing to me.

Robert Stone:

Did you go by Shot Jackson’s place at the Sho-Bud place while you were there?

Charles Flenory:

I would go by Shot Jackson’s place while I was there. They made me a bar.

Robert Stone:

And they made the bars with the grooves in the sides?

Charles Flenory:

Yes. They made me a bar for a ten-string.

Robert Stone:

In other words, he took a ten string bar and cut the grooves in it?

Charles Flenory:

Right, for me. And I met his sons and they took me to through plans.

Robert Stone:

What was his son’s name?

Charles Flenory:

Oh, was it Henry? I forget now.

Robert Stone:

That’s all right.

Charles Flenory:

I met two of his sons.

Robert Stone:

And when would this have been?

Charles Flenory:

That would have been…

Lucille Flenory:

When we used to stop down in Nashville in ’69…

Charles Flenory:

’70, ’71, ’72 and all of that time right around in there.

Robert Stone:

So that was still in the heyday of the Sho-Bud?

Charles Flenory:

Heyday of Sho-Bud and King, right.

Robert Stone:

Well, still a great guitar.

Charles Flenory:

It’s still a great sounding guitar by the way they make the pickups. The only thing that I found that I didn’t care for with the show was when you press pedals, it moved too much. It rocks a lot, and that’s why I never bought a Sho-Bud guitar. But I would go in there and they’d make my bars and they would talk about Lorenzo all the time, coming in. They’d say Lorenzo was in and he just had this made, or that made, because he had the money. He could get whatever he wanted to get it. Make no difference. They treated all of us nice. And I tell you another thing, I used to play at a record shop on Saturdays. Almost every other Saturday with Bobby Womack’s brother that owned a record shop in Cleveland, Ohio, Cecil Womack. Calvin Cooke and Bobby would make us play on the front porch together with his left hand, upside down, playing Bobby Womack. And he’s from Cleveland.

Robert Stone:

And you’d play gospel music?

Charles Flenory:

I played gospel. He was a dynamic singer, Bobby Womack, in gospel, real dynamic young guy. This is when I was really, really young. He used to sing gospel. So all of us from that same era.

Robert Stone:

Did you become the regular steel player at your local church?

Charles Flenory:

I became the regular steel player at our local church. Gary and I, that was Gary Cooke, Freddy Cooke on piano. I had a first cousin named James Sopher, which is Maynard’s brother. He played the drums. Freddie Cooke was a little boy, Calvin Cooke’s baby brother, and he played three finger piano until he learned. He was a little boy and could barely touch the foot pedals and he’s playing that. And all of us played-

Robert Stone:

You became a regular steel player at your church. And what was the band again?

Charles Flenory:

The band consisted of Gary Cooke, which is Calvin Cooke’s brother, Freddie Cooke, which is Calvin Cooke’s baby brother.

Robert Stone:

Now, Gary was playing what?

Charles Flenory:

Lead guitar. He also plays steel too. He’s not a good steel player, but he plays steel. And Freddie Cooke was the piano player.

Robert Stone:

Played just for three fingers? He must’ve been real young.

Charles Flenory:

He was real little guy, real small, couldn’t even touch the foot pedals. We put him on a piano stool, his feet would swing.

Robert Stone:

Seven, eight years old or something?

Charles Flenory:

Seven or eight years old. But he had a tremendous ear for pitch, perfect pitch. His ear is still that way. Calvin’s ear is like that. And his mother taught him how to play the three finger at home piano. And that’s all he did for a long time. And now he grabbed, learn to play better from there. James Sopher which is Maynard’s younger brother. It was Maynard then James and others came in there. He was a drummer.

Robert Stone:

Where was this? Do you know the address or the street the church was on?

Charles Flenory:

Wade Park and Addison Road in Cleveland, Ohio.

Robert Stone:

Who was the pastor?

Charles Flenory:

My father was Pastor in the early days on Wade Park and Addison Road. Then the pastor became Elder Hodge, May Hodge. She was Pastor from then on until she passed, and now her daughters passed. I also need to mention the bass player that played with me was Fred Dixon, which is-

Lucille Flenory:

Elder, Pastor Hodge’s…

Charles Flenory:

Yeah, that’s her son-in-law. But before that time, there’s a guy named Leonard Golden [James] that played in the Jewell Dominion. They called him Tubby. I don’t know if you ever heard of his name or not.

Robert Stone:

Chubby or Tubby?

Charles Flenory:

Tubby. And he had that Lorenzo style of playing and he did a lot of travelin’. It was the Golden Brothers, actually, he had a brother named Bobby Golden that played the lead guitar. He still plays, he’s older than I am, he’s older than Calvin. That’s where Calvin learned a lot of things from, they sat down and spent time with him. So did Treadway though, Treadway may not remember so much but Treadway spent a lot of time with Calvin. In fact, Treadway knows Ronnie Hall very good. Ronnie Hall, Sonny Treadway and Felton Williams, those guys and Wayne White, all those guys played together. That was Keith Dominion and Jewell guys and they all got together. It’s a bunch of them. Wayne White, Felton Williams, Sonny Treadway, Junior Mays, Ned Mays and Calvin Cooke, and Ronnie Hall in that Michigan area. That was all those guys that did a lot of playing in both dominions, both Jewell and Keith. They were the top players.

Charles Flenory:

In fact, they call him Fuzzy. I always felt he was so good that Lorenzo didn’t want him to play at all. They wouldn’t let him play. He was that good. Lorenzo wouldn’t let him play. I got the honor to play Lorenzo’s guitar, which he bought Sho-Buds most of the time, and never cooked his pedals up. That I know he never played pedals at all. They wouldn’t let kids touch his guitar. He let me play for some reason, he must’ve remembered me as a kid or my parents.

Robert Stone:

So he played Sho-Bud’s?

Charles Flenory:

Yes Sho-Buds. They did everything for him. They made a special Sho-Bud for him with the Fender Rhodes case that sits in the general assembly now in Indianapolis. It was built into the floor… Chuck got to play that. After Lorenzo passed.

Robert Stone:

I need to get a picture of that.

Charles Flenory:

I heard its quite a set up for that time. He’s always aggressive, different amps and different things because he loves sounds. Lorenzo made up sounds and tunes. He had beautiful tunes. And that’s what I liked about him. Like I said, his smoothness is what I liked. And more within the things he did as a musician was just his composition and smoothness and the way he could handle his audience. He could move his audience and knew just what to do with it.

Robert Stone:

He had a plan to his music is what Chuck has told me. He liked-

Charles Flenory:

Oh, it had a plan, it’s structure. It had a structure and it would build up to this. It started out a certain kind of way and it would build up and go to each section and each thing would lead to something else. And one tune, would go into another tune, which would lead into something else until this final pinnacle or hife. And that was it.

Robert Stone:

He had it really going.

Charles Flenory:

Oh, he had it going and wherever he went-

Robert Stone:

He played decades, right? I mean 30 years or something?

Charles Flenory:

Yes. And you just grew up and and the players in the Jewell Dominion just loved this playing so much they all tried to emulate him. So you can imagine all these, at least 20 Lorenzo Harrisons around trying to play like Harrison, which, like I told you, Felton Williams, he didn’t play like Harrison. He had his own style, which also Ronnie Hall was from that era. He took his style after Felton Williams. But all the rest of these other guys mainly took after offshoots of Lorenzo. And then Calvin came in and got blessed with a different tuning and a different style. And then he has his off shoots and things like that. All his standard. No other person, well, Chuck is a off shoot from Calvin. He doesn’t play like Calvin now, but he started out playing like Calvin.

Robert Stone:

Right. He was a big influence. And you too. He’s told me a lot about you.

Charles Flenory:

I used to spend time with him in back in the ’70s, ”71, 72. Calvin turned down an engagement and they wanted Calvin that played to help raise money to get the church and he couldn’t do it at that time, so they had heard me playing a service as Father came to me and asked me what I do. So every month I would go down there once a month and play to Rochester, New York. And then I would spend time with Chuck. I actually didn’t just get in off the road, and his parents loved our playing so much, we had to set up in the house and play church songs and they would sing and we’d have good time. Then I wouldn’t even go to bed. I just drive down there and spend hours with Chuck, teaching him how to tune his guitar, and teaching him placement and everything like that. Just getting him started.

Robert Stone:

And how did you learn?

Charles Flenory:

I learned by hearing. Calvin was gone from hearing it right. They used to call me Tune Hawk, because if somebody came up with something, I hear it and then I’d have it, and I’d be playing. My ear is not quite like that now, but anything I heard I could play no matter what, no matter how many notes there was in there.

Robert Stone:

You weren’t recording it, you were just playing it?

Charles Flenory:

I wasn’t recording it, I just played by memory. It’s before the- you know we had reel-to-reels back then. Back then you have to find the spot. And that was hard to find a spot to plug all this stuff in and all that to record. So you had to develop that ear and I developed the ear. Calvin had all his stuff would just ring. And it was so nice and pretty, and all of that, that you would hear this way after service, you’d hear those tunes. You start to hum, those tunes and, and things like that. And then you may wake up that next morning, that tune is still haunting you. And that’s how he played. He’d leave you with it. He was just dynamic in his playing, just dynamic. He had the drive, but it wasn’t harsh. It wasn’t a harsh drive. It was just melodic, like Lloyd Green. Lloyd Green’s stuff will haunt you if you hear it, it just hangs with me. It just hangs with because he has those types of tunes.

Robert Stone:

Do you have a pretty good collection of like country records now?

Charles Flenory:

Yes, I do CDs. I don’t have so many records. I have to search back and get my Chet Atkins records and other stuff like that.

Robert Stone:

But when you were able, finally, when you were out from under your father’s wing, you could get records?

Charles Flenory:

I could get records and bought country records. There’s a song by a guy says, “ain’t no change strong enough to hold me, ain’t no breeze, big enough to slow me. I’ll be there. If you ever want me by your side, want me, want me, if you ever want me, there’s no road too rough to ride.” And I forget the author of that, but my mom had a record of that and I was a little boy. She’d have to play that for me at night, I love that song. And that’s why I memorized the words so much. She had that record hid so my father couldn’t find it. She would play it for me because I’d asked her to play it. I always have loved country music.

Robert Stone:

So that was a country song? And you know who it was?

Charles Flenory:

I forget who it was. I could find out.

Robert Stone:

What would be the title of it?

Charles Flenory:

“Big enough to slow me I’ll be there. If you ever want me by your side. Want me, if you ever ever want me. There’s no road too rough to ride.” I would say, No Chains Strong Enough to Hold Me is the name of that song. [I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)]

Robert Stone:

And there was a steel on that?

Charles Flenory:

Not too much. It’s just the way the tune, the way the words went, and the music went that I really loved. I really loved that. And then they started coming out with more Lloyd Green, cause he really developed a lot, was a key person in developing a lot of the pulling of the pedals in those early days. He is the man to me. Jeff Newman is another player that taught a lot and he was always on the Sho-Bud covers when they made those brochures.

Robert Stone:

… instructions I just saw him at that thing in New Smyrna Beach.

Charles Flenory:

He plays good too, but he’s not like Lloyd Green, just different.

Robert Stone:

Did you ever run into him?

Charles Flenory:

I know Jeff Newman and Lloyd Green,

Robert Stone:

At the Sho-Bud place?

Charles Flenory:

Not from Sho-Bud-

Lucille Flenory:

At the steel guitar.

Robert Stone:

At the convention?

Charles Flenory:

At the steel guitar convention.

Robert Stone:

How many of them have you been to? How many years have you gone?

Charles Flenory:

I’ve gone three years and I met all the players.

Robert Stone:

The last three years or spread apart? And this is at the international steel convention. Scotty’s thing?

Charles Flenory:

In St. Louis. Scotty’s thing right.

Robert Stone:

You going this year?

Charles Flenory:

I’m going this year.

Robert Stone:

Let me ask you, do you think any of these guys would go over if they were presented there, Chuck or Aubrey or Sonny or?

Charles Flenory:

If they were presented there, yeah. Yeah, they’d go over. Cause I was accepted. Well, the first year I went, I was accepted extremely well.

Robert Stone:

You were playing?

Charles Flenory:

I played a Sierra guitar for Don Christensen, which owns Sierra Guitar Company. I played at his booth. I played at the Williams booth for the Williams guitar. I played a little bit at Franklin’s booth and at Carter’s I played, which was the guy that created this MSA.

Lucille Flenory:

Was the name of the couple that had spoke to us. And another gentleman I got up there-

Charles Flenory:

They belong to gospel convention. They just sell CDs there.

Lucille Flenory:

But I was going to tell him how they were influenced by the music.

Charles Flenory:

Right. They know Bishop Manning very, very good.

Robert Stone:

This is at the Gospel Steel Guitar Association, those guys?

Lucille Flenory:

They loved it, they really-

Robert Stone:

So they have heard Harrison’s. Is that what you’re saying? They heard who?

Charles Flenory:

They’ve heard…

Lucille Flenory:

Who did he talk about? He stays in touch with, as far as the music is concerned over the Jewell Dominion what’s her name? He stays in touch with her.

Charles Flenory:

Bishop Manning, that’s the chief granddaughter.

Robert Stone:

She’s kind of getting out of the steel guitar.

Charles Flenory:

I talked with Wayne White, which is one of the guys that I mentioned from Detroit that played in Jewel. And he’s around that Leonard Golden and all Ronnie Hall and Felton’s age, just under some of that. Now I talk with him and they gettin out of that because they felt like it was too much in the music. The reason they’re getting away from it, they think it’s too much, too emotional. But in my knowledge of studying of the guys movement and music always was there and that’s what I talked to him about. And I said, without music, you would be Bishop White right now because that’s what helped you to toe the line to come through the chain of command, to be from a musician all the way up into a Bishop. How are you going to take music out of the church? Especially our church, now it’s a tradition. Yes, we started something. But that music is a key role. It’s not the main thing to salvation, but it’s key. Key role to our services is a key role to people joining and it’s beautiful.

Lucille Flenory:

It’s a joyous part.

Charles Flenory:

Right, exactly.

Robert Stone:

And certainly being somebody who’s looking at it from outside,

Charles Flenory:

It’s touching.

Robert Stone:

Oh, absolutely. But another, I think a big plus you have going in here in these churches is because of the music that draws the young people in. A lot of churches, they can’t get young people.

Charles Flenory:

And I went to a whole era of when I came to Michigan and I got with Ronnie Hall, and Ronnie Hall and I had it locked up there in Detroit, even though Calvin was there for a long time. Now the thing about I and Ronnie, he was very good on the lead guitar. And I had my pluses on the lead guitar. We would switch. Sometimes we’d switch in service. He played part of it and then switch. Sometimes he didn’t feel it and I had it. Sometimes I didn’t have it, and he had it and we could switch around. Our rhythm playing would compliment the steel, just sort of, and make it bring out the highlights of it, that it wasn’t a problem. And we switched it. Our audience accepted it. Boom. It was no problem, man. We just switched. It looked like it turned another button on it in the service, beam. And sometimes it’s vice versa. He would have it and I played the lead and it just turned another button on.

Lucille Flenory:

He has missed one year at the St. Louis convention and to show you how he was accepted. They had so many people that had their stands down there and was representing in the convention. They knew that he wasn’t there. So many people came up to him and asked him, where were you last year? You were not here. Many people came and they spoke to him about his style of music. And they told him to keep his style don’t change his style, keep his style. And they were just fascinated with, the couple I was speaking about was saying that in the house and their church, even how I think Chris was explaining about how in the Catholic church how everything is kind of dry, and we’re so lively.

PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:48:04]

Lucille Flenory:

And we’re still lively. You know, they were very receptive down there.

Robert Stone:

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard say, when they hear this music, they say, “Man, if we had that kind of music in my church, I’d have been going a lot more.”

Charles Flenory:

Oh, yeah. And we get it all the time, but what it still does, you hear it and you can be down the street, and you hear this music and it’s going so well. And it doesn’t always have to be an uptempo song. A lot of people think it’s all in the up-tempo stuff. I’ve had people, I talked to Chuck and then I would play, and just say a lady wasn’t feeling good. And after service, she said, “I was healed.” And I’m wondering, “Okay, now how you healed?” She said, “By just hearing the music. The music was so sweet and soothing, I had a headache and I felt so bad coming to church. And I’m glad I came because now all that is gone and I’m feeling good,” and all that kind of stuff.

Charles Flenory:

And I contribute that because my father was a strict disciplinarian also, and he didn’t want you playing if you had any kind of life. So your life had to be right. He didn’t care if you was his son, you can’t sit there because you up-front, eyes on you. Now I didn’t get up and go to the bathroom during the whole service most of the time. Since I’m older now I have to go, but I wouldn’t go to the bathroom. And I’ve always never left when the preachers came up. Some guys take their break then. And then when the preacher gets up to his main line, then they come back in and they start playing and aiding the service. I would never leave. I sat there because I was taught if he can sit and listen to you in the beginning of these services then you should give him that same courtesy. And it did help me out a lot, I learned the Word good from listening. Then I started reading and learning, and learning a lot. And all of that played a key role.

Robert Stone:

So when did you move to Detroit?

Charles Flenory:

’68.

Robert Stone:

  1. So by then you were…?

Charles Flenory:

19.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, 19 years old. Okay. And so, you were already playing three years?

Charles Flenory:

Already playing three years.

Robert Stone:

Just trying to get a picture of…

Charles Flenory:

Got with Ronnie Hall, learned more.

Robert Stone:

Calvin’s around…

Charles Flenory:

Calvin’s around again, right. Calvin left and, well, he’s retiring this year. So in ’68, Calvin, the earlier part of ’68, Calvin came. I didn’t come till…

Lucille Flenory:

’69.

Charles Flenory:

No, ’68. In Detroit.

Robert Stone:

So he started in Cleveland with you? Then he went to Detroit?

Charles Flenory:

Yeah. Right. The auto plants was there, there was better jobs there, and everybody started gravitating…

Robert Stone:

Did you work in the auto plant?

Charles Flenory:

Yeah, 11/29/68 I had got a job at Fleetwood Cadillac as a welder and a metal finisher. And I would, a body’d get wrecked in the plant and I’d get on the metal finish line and I’d fix that body with lead. They didn’t use Bondo and all that stuff back then.

Robert Stone:

I remember that, lead with the paddle.

Charles Flenory:

The wooden paddle, you did the lead and pushed the pimples off, and hand file the pimples off and put lead in it if it made a hole. If the fender got destroyed I’d cut that fender off and re-weld the fenders back on and all that. And that’s back then when they was hand polishing every car. And that’s what I did at Fleetwood Cadillac for years.

Robert Stone:

Are you retired now or still…

Charles Flenory:

I’m not retired from there. I left General Motors, started at a construction company and I stayed in the construction business for years. That allowed me to go to Nashville and anyplace else I wanted to during any time, and I stopped the construction company in ’85 and started working for a hospital as a carpenter, head carpenter at Beyer Hospital. And that’s what I’m doing now, head carpenter at Beyer Hospital and at another place called Great Lakes Rehab. So I’m the head carpenter at those two hospitals, and I pretty much do like I want.

Lucille Flenory:

It was three. Slow down.

Charles Flenory:

It was three, I was working at a place called Vencor, right.

Robert Stone:

Sounds good to me. So, and are you playing regularly for services now?

Charles Flenory:

Not as much, I don’t have as much time. But I’m getting back into playing. Actually, this Sacred Steel I got involved with has inspired me to do more playing.

Robert Stone:

The recordings and…

Charles Flenory:

All of that, right. I also started a record company back in ’73, and that just stayed on.

Robert Stone:

A record company?

Charles Flenory:

Gospel Sounds, since ’73, and I’ve done a few records with a lady called Wildred Scott, she’s gone on now, and they made a pressing of records back then, you know, vinyl.

Lucille Flenory:

… [inaudible] church.

Charles Flenory:

And other little things. Right.

Robert Stone:

Got any that had steel on them?

Charles Flenory:

Me playing steel?

Robert Stone:

Got any of those?

Charles Flenory:

I’d have to find them, I got one or two somewhere.

Robert Stone:

Can you make me a copy, or send me a record or whatever?

Charles Flenory:

I’ll make you a copy or send you the record.

Lucille Flenory:

He’s got some old reel-to-reel even of his- from back then too.

Charles Flenory:

Old reel-to-reel of Lorenzo Harrison and all those guys, Ronnie Hall.

Robert Stone:

Can you dub me off anything?

Charles Flenory:

I have to find all that stuff. I told you I’m going to get you pictures also.

Robert Stone:

Oh, absolutely.

Charles Flenory:

Black and white pictures.

Robert Stone:

That’s especially… Well, of course if you go back far enough, that’s all there was. And like I was saying, it’s a good thing because these colored pictures don’t hold up.

Charles Flenory:

No, they don’t.

Lucille Flenory:

He used construction to get his training for the studio.

Charles Flenory:

Right. See, I bartered it with a guy named Bob Dennis, which is a very popular guy. He was 16 or 17, Motown sent him to Europe to learn disc master. And when Motown went to California, he chose not to go and he started a company with Holland-Dozier-Holland. And it all shoot from Holland-Dozier-Holland to GM Recording, and that’s when I met him. Then GM Recording and GM went to Pro Sound and then Super Disc. He and I met, he took a liking to me and I took a liking to him. And he bartered my training in engineering, for carpentry work they needed. I built a school for them and I redid the control room, and redesigned the control room and the studio back in that day.

Lucille Flenory:

That was called the … [inaudible]

Robert Stone:

And so in turn, he taught you engineering.

Charles Flenory:

Now, that’s where Parliament did all of their recording. Parliament-Funkadelic, George Clinton, all of those guys I’ve met, I know all those guys, very good. They’re still doing this stuff.

Charles Flenory:

It’s called the Disc Ltd. now. And he mainly teaches classes in engineering and things like that. And there’s a guy there, that’s Greg Reilly, which is his business partner, he does the recording and things like that. And he’s on all the labels. You’ll see Greg Reilly on all those Parliament-Funkadelic albums and things like that. And then he was the engineer for all of that. And all those guys, I know them personally in their house. My kids have played with their kids and we’ve eaten dinner with them, everything. And they’re still a good friend of mine. I have the original 24-track tape recorder that Parliament did their records on.

Robert Stone:

Great. Do you ever play any secular music?

Charles Flenory:

I played some jazz on a couple of jazz pieces. I didn’t want my name on those, the church would’ve had a fit back then. I played on them, too. And I was a consultant on a album called “Tibetan Serenity.” That’s a jazz piece made by a guy named Travis Biggs. And that turned out well, it was right after the Breezin’ thing with George Benson. It didn’t have a guitarist in it, it was more violin. He was a violin player and he’s here somewhere in the southern parts of Atlanta. And that’s where that guy is. I got my name on that one, but I only wanted it as recognition, not as doing anything else.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, I’ve heard of him.

Charles Flenory:

Have you, Travis Biggs?

Robert Stone:

Yeah. He’s a Black jazz violin player, right?

Charles Flenory:

Yes, he is.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, I’ve heard of him. I don’t know as of I’ve heard his music but I’ve read of him or something. He’s got a lot of technique.

Charles Flenory:

A lot of technique, exactly. Right. He and I used to, we went to these engineering classes together. So that’s how I met him. And he loved my ear and the things I heard by my being a musician and we worked together on his album and got it out. And it did well for him, it did real good.

Robert Stone:

So you say you got five steels now?

Charles Flenory:

Yes.

Robert Stone:

What are they?

Charles Flenory:

The eight-string Deluxe, which I was a little boy and got it.

Robert Stone:

Fender Deluxe.

Charles Flenory:

Right, Fender Deluxe. I have a Dekley double neck, I have two MSA pedal steels…

Robert Stone:

Single? Doubles?

Charles Flenory:

Singles. Single 10s. Okay, now let’s see if I…

Robert Stone:

This is four. The Fender…

Charles Flenory:

The Fender…

Robert Stone:

The Dekley…

Charles Flenory:

The Dekley..

Robert Stone:

Two MSAs…

Charles Flenory:

Two MSAs, and I have a Fender lap steel, six-string. I don’t play that that much. It doesn’t give you… That’s not full enough. It’s just, once you get away from certain things it’s just not full enough-sounding. So that’s those, and I’m going to the sixth one, which will be that Fessenden, Jerry Fessenden. And he had a lot to do with Dekley.

Charles Flenory:

The particular Dekley I got, there’s some that was cheaply made, now this one was made very well and it has a rich tone in it. And the richness of this particular guitar is for recording. It’s not super in the audience of playing out, but when you connect it into a console and amp it and all that, it’s perfect for that. It’s just like people don’t know, Fender guitars are the number one guitar for recording sessions. Not the Gibson. Now, the Gibsons all sound good and fat, and the humbucking pickups and stuff like that are good for live stuff. But for actual recording, that’s those Fenders. A lot of little tricks to that business that people don’t really realize what’s going on. And that’s the way that Dekley is, it’s awesome in the studio. It is awesome. Rich sound to it.

Charles Flenory:

And this Fessenden is the same thing. I played on Chuck’s guitar, now that guitar’s got it. You know, you can hit those tones and those bells at any place on the neck and it’s there.

Robert Stone:

You play a lot of harmonics?

Charles Flenory:

I don’t play them no more, but I used to. See, they didn’t allow certain things at church back in my time. They didn’t want you to play anything secular. So now here’s this whole creativity thing that you got to do that you have to come up with that is not like any secular music. And it wasn’t hard for me, because seems like they would just come. Tunes would come like they do for Treadway and they did for Calvin and all that kind.

Robert Stone:

So it really kind of forced you guys…

Charles Flenory:

To be the way we are, exactly.

Robert Stone:

Cause they didn’t wan’t to hear the-

Charles Flenory:

They didn’t want to hear the secular things. Now it’s not but 12 keys, with the sharps and flats and stuff.

Robert Stone:

Right, chromatic keys.

Charles Flenory:

So now, where are you at with music? You’re fed this every day. They’d turn the radio on, either it’s country or it’s, you know, they didn’t want none of that. So even if it had those pulls and things, it still couldn’t sound like the country stuff. So that’s how we started doing the way we do and how we do. And then the country guys said, “Well, how did you get that instrument to be so hot? It’s so hot, it’s like fire in that instrument.” And it just developed from playing in church like that. And then they said, “Well, you use a sub.” They would call it the Florida tap method. That’s what they call it. Have you ever heard of that? The tap method of playing on the steel? Never heard of it?

Robert Stone:

I don’t think so.

Charles Flenory:

They call it a Florida tap method and there’s a lot of guys used to play on the street. And they’d think we just hit this notes and get the fire out of it like that. And we actually hit it the same way.

Robert Stone:

[inaudible] … Florida … How can I-

Charles Flenory:

I heard a lot of that in the National Steel Guitar Convention.

Robert Stone:

Florida tap playing…

Charles Flenory:

Tap playing, they called it tap. And you hit the string a certain kind of way and then you move in your bar and it’s called a Florida tap method. And it’s actually not nothing we’re doing.

Robert Stone:

Why Florida, do you know?

Charles Flenory:

Because it was key in Florida. You go to certain parts of Florida and the guys would be playing on the street and they’d be playing slide guitar and lap steels. And they thought they would tap it.

Robert Stone:

The church guys.

Charles Flenory:

No, the country guys.

Robert Stone:

Oh, okay. I’m confused.

Charles Flenory:

The country guys called it the Florida tap method. I had never heard of it.

Robert Stone:

No, I haven’t either.

Charles Flenory:

Well, some of the country guys said, “Well, early days the Black guys was playing tap method.” Plus they didn’t believe Black guys played period. Period.

Robert Stone:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), right.

Charles Flenory:

Steel guitar? Mm-mm (negative), y’all guys don’t like that. In fact, my brothers get up playing Motown and I’d have my guitar. “Ma, he’s got that guitar,” get in from work, and they’d get up from going to school and they put on the Motown.

Robert Stone:

Motown records, yeah.

Charles Flenory:

The Temptations, preferably.

Robert Stone:

Right. And you were back there doing that stuff.

Charles Flenory:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Robert Stone:

Well, yeah, you know it’s still big news.

Charles Flenory:

It’s still big news, yes. Because they didn’t believe it when I got down there, they just said … [tape ends 01:02:40].

Robert Stone:

Well, you need to ask him about steel guitar. My wife says the same thing, we talk all night about guitars.

Charles Flenory:

But we used to play all night. Man, I used to play all night, all day, three services a day. And Ronnie and I, and we just enjoyed it. Never wanted to put the guitar down. Right after we’d eat we’d get back on them, playing the guitar.

Robert Stone:

Wow.

Charles Flenory:

And we just loved it, you know? And I still do. I still do. I still love it. I love seeing the guys I’ve had anything to do with do well. I’ve never been a jealous type of person, period. I love to see them do well. Doesn’t make no difference to me. Cause I’m in there. When they doing good I’m doing good, that’s the way I feel. Some of them don’t, some of them had this rivalry, jealousy type of thing, and I’d rather not have that. I’d rather be like the country guys, those guys appreciate one another. And so far I haven’t seen no rivalry. If you ask them about some pedal they’re using for something, they’ll tell you and they’ll show it to you if they got the time. That’s the way I want these guys to start getting and kill that rivalry, man.

Robert Stone:

Chuck is very much that way. He’ll show anybody anything.

Charles Flenory:

Yeah. Well, it’s passed on.

Robert Stone:

I know what you’re talking about, I seen the other type.

Charles Flenory:

Oh yeah. Yeah. I know the other type. I won’t mention names, but I know the other type. I’ve never had a guitar player just sit down and turn his back on me. And that used to happen in church. They’d sit down and turn their back on one another and wouldn’t let them see what they was doing. So that’s how I developed the ear. So if I heard what you did, I had what I wanted to do.

Robert Stone:

Did you get into, do you do right-hand blocking, like the country guys do?

Charles Flenory:

I do right- and left-hand blocking and blocking.

Robert Stone:

Do you do pick blocking?

Charles Flenory:

I can pick block, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Robert Stone:

So you’ll do right and left and you’ll tip the bar like…

Charles Flenory:

Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

Robert Stone:

When you use the big bullet bar with the grooves cut in it, do you turn it around backwards like Chuck does?

Charles Flenory:

With the grooves cut in it. No, I’ll turn it around every now and then, but that’s just things, techniques, he’s developed over the years. In fact that one bar he has with that little… rounded end on it, I hate that bar.

Robert Stone:

I gave that to him.

Charles Flenory:

I know but he loves it.

Robert Stone:

I hate it too.

Charles Flenory:

There is no use for that. I would take it to a machine shop and cut that off. It’d be gone. But he loves that bar. He loves it. Now there’s a new bar that’s out, it’s made of titanium. That’s what I’m getting made now.

Robert Stone:

What does it do? It must be real light.

Charles Flenory:

It’s tone, tonal quality, and the wear, it’s not there.

Robert Stone:

It’ll be real light.

Charles Flenory:

Yeah, it’s real light, and the tone. It helps with the tone of the guitar, that’s the key thing. I’ll show you one when I finally get mine.

Robert Stone:

It’s got to be expensive.

Charles Flenory:

It’s expensive.

Robert Stone:

A hundred dollars?

Charles Flenory:

It’s more than that.

Lucille Flenory:

Oh yes, it’s more than that. We saw one at the convention last year.

Charles Flenory:

I like the color of it, it’s kind of a bone or tan.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, right, so the ivory color

Charles Flenory:

An ivory color to it, it’s terrific. I used it last year in the show, it was a round bar.

Robert Stone:

Have you ever played one of those Bakelite bars, you know, hard plastic?

Charles Flenory:

I played with that, I didn’t like the feel of it. And didn’t like, the way it kind of grabs the strings sort of to me. So I didn’t like that.

Robert Stone:

A little friction.

Charles Flenory:

Right. Too much, too much of it. But the titanium bar? That’s going to be a thing of the age, I think. It’s coming up.

Robert Stone:

That’s too expensive, too rich for my blood.

Charles Flenory:

You only need to buy one though. That’s all you need. So if it costs you a couple of hundred bucks. And if it’ll help your playing in any way, or improve your playing in some kind of way. And I played with it, I really developed a liking to it, and I only played with it once and it was a round bar. So I’m going to get me one made.

Robert Stone:

Get it machined.

Charles Flenory:

No, the guy that I talked to that makes them, he’s going to machine it for me. All I got to do is take this..

Robert Stone:

Who is it that’s making it? It’s not BJS, is it?

Charles Flenory:

It could be. It could be.

Lucille Flenory:

I wrote it down. It’s in the book.

Charles Flenory:

This is a single guy. So it’s not a big company. He’s just a guy making them out of his garage or basement, you know. So I don’t think it’s BJS, although I talked to them about bars. I also talked to… What is this string dealer that I’m a dealer of? They do pickups. They’re doing all the pickups

Robert Stone:

Seymour Duncan or George L’s?

Charles Flenory:

George L’s, right. Yeah. I know the people that own that company, so I’m a George L dealer. I like the George L strings, until some new strings out on my travels I heard about. But, really loved that titanium bar. I don’t have one right now, but I will get one after I finish getting this guitar.

Robert Stone:

So how about this… Lucille, you got that sweatshirt there from the Gospel Steel Guitar Association?

Lucille Flenory:

Oh yes, I’ve got about two or three of them.

Robert Stone:

How about those guys, obviously you’ve talked to them.

Charles Flenory:

We’ve talked to them, they love us.

Robert Stone:

I’ve got some, I think Ted Beard sent me a letter from the president or something of that organization. I never have talked to the guy, I just haven’t gotten to it. I’d be interested to explore that relationship.

Charles Flenory:

See, we never knew all these things existed, and they never knew of us. Chuck developed a relationship with Bobby Seymour. My relationship with the country guys was Shot Jackson’s sons. And from there, there was another guy named Joe Beringer, Beringer’s music, in Detroit. The store doesn’t exist anymore, but I developed a relationship with him. In fact, I got my MSA from this guy. He gave it to me. He wanted his music store remodeled. I remodeled his music store, so he gave me that MSA guitar of mine, and he gave me Electra guitar that had the built-in wah module in it and stuff like that, and I still have that lead guitar. And I got a bass for Fred Dickson out of that deal. We just kind of painted up and fixed up his music store, and he gave us those. And I took off ever since from that.

Charles Flenory:

Now that Dekley, there’s a story behind that. I had met a guy at work and he played, and he was in gospel, and went to his house one time and I played with him and his wife “When the Saints Go Marching In.” His daughter was there and they enjoyed it so much, and he wanted to get rid of this guitar. So him and I struck a deal and I made a payment on it. He said the Lord had talked to his wife and him, and said to give me that guitar and the amp and everything. And they gave me the Dekley. Just gave it to me, I never paid. I mean a two- or three-thousand dollar guitar, and amp, pedals, everything. Gave it to me. Boom. And same thing with Joe Beringer. He just gave me that guitar, he didn’t know whether I could do the work or not, just gave it to me. “Here, take this, Charles.”

Lucille Flenory:

Amazing how doors just opened for you to obtain…

Robert Stone:

Let me ask you this. Do you keep in touch with any of those guys in that association?

Charles Flenory:

In the Gospel Association? I haven’t been to one Gospel Association yet.

Robert Stone:

But you run into them at the National Convention.

Charles Flenory:

Right.

Robert Stone:

So you hang out and play, or…

Lucille Flenory:

We were supposed to make the one in November and we missed it.

Charles Flenory:

The one that was in Atlanta.

Robert Stone:

Didn’t they invite Ted Beard?

Charles Flenory:

Ted Beard went, and Gary Cooke went to one of them also. Also, the guy that used to play with Calvin was Bishop Harrison’s son named Starlin Harrison, have you ever heard of him?

Robert Stone:

Yeah.

Charles Flenory:

Starlin Harrison went to one and him and I went to the first time to the National Association.

Robert Stone:

Now let me ask you something. This one guy I know is before your time, but the other guy was still alive. There was a Hawaiian player, he’s been dead for a long time, his name was Sol HoʻopiʻI. He was before pedals. Matter of fact he started before electric and then he was very, very, very, very good. Now he started off playing Hawaiian and jazz.

PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [01:12:04]

Charles Flenory:

Okay.

Robert Stone:

He moved to the U.S.

Charles Flenory:

Okay.

Robert Stone:

And he was …

Charles Flenory:

He’s super.

Robert Stone:

Oh, he’s been on lots and lots of records. And then he got saved and became a Christian. And from that day on, whatever it was, it was probably about 1950 or late ’40s, never played secular music again. He continued to make records but they were gospel. He also sang. He had a beautiful, a very pretty singing voice, and precision lap player.

Charles Flenory:

Okay.

Robert Stone:

And then there’s a guy, an Anglo guy out in Seattle named Bud Tutmarc.

Charles Flenory:

Okay.

Robert Stone:

Now he may come to those conventions. He’s an old guy now.

Charles Flenory:

How old?

Robert Stone:

He’s about 70 now, or older.

Charles Flenory:

Okay, now there are guys-

Robert Stone:

He still plays-

Charles Flenory:

… that’s there-

Robert Stone:

He still plays.

Charles Flenory:

There’s guys that-

Robert Stone:

And he plays strictly a six-

Charles Flenory:

Lap steel-

Robert Stone:

… a six-string lap.

Charles Flenory:

Okay.

Robert Stone:

And he puts it on a stand. And matter of fact he-

Charles Flenory:

I’ve heard of Bud Tutmarc.

Robert Stone:

Yeah. And matter of fact, he has access to, and he has taped all of Sol Ho’opi’i’s old 78s.

Charles Flenory:

Oh, really?

Robert Stone:

All the gospel stuff.

Charles Flenory:

Oh, really?

Robert Stone:

And Sol Ho’opi’i’s widow is still alive and he’s worked out an agreement with her where they sell that stuff. I bought some of it.

Charles Flenory:

Well see now, that’s stuff I would like to get.

Robert Stone:

So I’m giving you all of the background. But before this, you weren’t really aware of that, huh?

Charles Flenory:

No, not to no names. But I’ve listened to a lot of early-day country things before the electric guitar was so popular, when it was more acoustical things.

Robert Stone:

Okay. This guy was the biggest influence of all time. He influenced Jerry Byrd-

Charles Flenory:

Byrd, okay.

Robert Stone:

And those guys. He influenced everybody. If you ever hear his stuff it’ll knock you out.

Charles Flenory:

Oh, sure.

Robert Stone:

For what it was in it’s time.

Charles Flenory:

Sure, sure.

Robert Stone:

He was very clean and very inventive.

Charles Flenory:

Very creative.

Robert Stone:

And he played in a C# minor tuning, which has led to the …

Charles Flenory:

E9 and-

Robert Stone:

The E9. Yeah, so he was one of the first to get out of the major chord tunings and get into the jazzier tunings.

Charles Flenory:

Now you know what was so hard for us? For our tuning, we couldn’t come up with a way to pull pedals for a long time. So we had to sit down, I had to sit down and really start working some things out to make the certain pedal pulls and all of that. Because it was different from the country thing because we couldn’t tune ours in E9 and do what we wanted to do, and pull pedals.

Charles Flenory:

And then Chuck learned in E9 and he had a double neck, learn in E9 and then we would convert back. And then that’s how he start making transfers in the tuning that he’s in now, from E9 and back and forth, and back and forth until he got it down in his mind and all that kind of stuff. And it’s all in E ninth. He can rattle all that stuff off. And he can take your tuning and tell you what you can pull in different places like that. Now his mind is very mechanical for that kind of stuff.

Robert Stone:

Right, right.

Charles Flenory:

That’s why, I guess, Darick does the lap steel, and-

Lucille Flenory:

I think that’s what it is-

Charles Flenory:

… and Chuck does the pedal stuff.

Robert Stone:

Yeah. Darick is like …

Charles Flenory:

Nelson and all.

Robert Stone:

Yeah.

Charles Flenory:

He’s stuck in a certain state.

Robert Stone:

Well-

Charles Flenory:

Which-

Robert Stone:

… it’s-

Charles Flenory:

… it takes nothing from his gift.

Lucille Flenory:

Right.

Robert Stone:

Right.

Charles Flenory:

Because if that’s where your niche is at …

Robert Stone:

He’s very direct.

Lucille Flenory:

That’s right.

Charles Flenory:

Right. That’s fine. I don’t have a problem with that.

Robert Stone:

He doesn’t know anything about music.

Charles Flenory:

No.

Robert Stone:

No.

Charles Flenory:

No, he doesn’t.

Robert Stone:

To do what he does is just why-

Charles Flenory:

It’s by hearing. It’s all in hearing and-

Robert Stone:

And feeling-

Charles Flenory:

… sensitivity. Right, and feeling, yeah.

Robert Stone:

No, Darick continues to surprise me.

Charles Flenory:

Me too-

Lucille Flenory:

Yeah-

Charles Flenory:

… too, exactly. Because he was a very little boy when Chuck was first trying to pick up something.

Lucille Flenory:

The first time I heard him he was just so unique-

Charles Flenory:

And he’s so-

Lucille Flenory:

Beautiful-

Charles Flenory:

… soulful-

Lucille Flenory:

Yes-

Charles Flenory:

… with what he does.

Lucille Flenory:

Yes.

Robert Stone:

Absolutely. Yeah, so that’s nice. Especially since a lot of that is along the lines of Henry Nelson, and Henry can’t play anymore.

Charles Flenory:

Right, exactly.

Robert Stone:

That’s a shame. If we-

Charles Flenory:

I’m not downing Aubrey Ghent, but Aubrey Ghent is not the players’ daddies.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, that’s how I understand that.

Charles Flenory:

It’s their hymns. And so far as him playing a song, and the intonation Henry Nelson has on playing those songs that you felt it. He’d go from the highs and the mids and the sharps and all that, and you felt what he was playing. Because it’s like a singer when they phrase and paint this picture with these words and they’re singing that song. He had that gift. Now Ghent’s got some of that, but he doesn’t have it like his father had.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, and he’ll even tell you himself. Because when I first met Aubrey we’d say, “Wow, man, that was beautiful.” He says, “Well,” he says, “My dad has really got it.” And unfortunately by the time we recorded him it was …

Charles Flenory:

It was too late.

Robert Stone:

It was a little late. And then he had a stroke and it was absolutely too late. Because what we have is, on the Sacred Steel album he’s off his game.

Charles Flenory:

Right, he’s off his game. Exactly, he is off his game.

Robert Stone:

We were lucky to get that much. We recorded for five hours that day.

Charles Flenory:

To get …

Robert Stone:

We ran tape for five hours. It was a five-hour service, a special service the day after Christmas. And we got the first 15 minutes. After that you could have thrown all that tape away because nothing was worth keeping.

Charles Flenory:

Now-

Robert Stone:

It just wasn’t there-

Charles Flenory:

… you couldn’t run up on anybody that had anything of his?

Robert Stone:

Well, believe me, we looked-

Charles Flenory:

You looking for it.

Robert Stone:

Yeah. Of course, what you find so often is-

Charles Flenory:

It’s so worn, right.

Robert Stone:

Obvious, old-

Lucille Flenory:

Yes-

Robert Stone:

Awful.

Lucille Flenory:

Yes.

Charles Flenory:

And then people talking.

Robert Stone:

You know what it takes-

Charles Flenory:

Exactly-

Robert Stone:

… to make a good recording.

Charles Flenory:

Exactly.

Lucille Flenory:

Yes.

Robert Stone:

I’d love to, him or Harrison.

Charles Flenory:

Now, I’ll see if I can find some Harrison stuff. Ronnie’s dad, Ronnie Hall’s father, which he’s almost a hundred years old now, he’s got some reel to reels and he was a stickler about recording.

Robert Stone:

And I’ll tell you another thing. Those things need to be- Guys like Harrison who was so influential-

Charles Flenory:

Exactly.

Robert Stone:

That-

Charles Flenory:

… they need-

Robert Stone:

… stuff-

Charles Flenory:

… to be-

Robert Stone:

… should be-

Charles Flenory:

… preserved-

Robert Stone:

… documented. And let me tell you if you don’t already know it.

Charles Flenory:

Okay.

Robert Stone:

Because I’ve been around archival stuff where you’d want it to last for centuries.

Charles Flenory:

That’s right.

Robert Stone:

And there’s some of that reel-to-reel tape that has big problems. It sticks together.

Charles Flenory:

Right, for-

Robert Stone:

It sticks together and some of it, you can put it a oven and bake it and get the tape to separate, but it flakes, it deteriorates.

Charles Flenory:

Right, because it’s on old acetate.

Robert Stone:

Yeah. You ought to check that stuff out.

Charles Flenory:

I’ll check it out if I can get a hold to it.

Lucille Flenory:

Yeah, we need to-

Robert Stone:

You can buy a rewritable CD for what, 500 bucks?

Charles Flenory:

Less than that, $399.00.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, right.

Charles Flenory:

Mail order. I got a burner, CD burner already. And I’m trying to get the rewriter and I’ll have both-

Robert Stone:

Yeah. I heard they’re $450.00 or something.

Charles Flenory:

No, $399.00

Robert Stone:

Well-

Lucille Flenory:

Yeah, we could-

Robert Stone:

… see that’s-

Lucille Flenory:

… maybe talk-

Robert Stone:

… see that’s-

Lucille Flenory:

… to Ronnie-

Robert Stone:

That’s

Lucille Flenory:

… about that-

Robert Stone:

That’s the perfect thing to archive.

Charles Flenory:

Okay. If I can do that, I will send a CD-

Lucille Flenory:

Because I know-

Charles Flenory:

… of all that I can get.

Lucille Flenory:

Yes.

Charles Flenory:

I will. Because his dad just took reel-to-reel. My first recordings live was I bought me a Revox. And I wanted to get the best back then. Revox had a good name, boom, I got that Revox and I’d do a lot of recording. I got some early-day Calvin Cooke if I can find that out of archives. His brother had some Calvin Cooke in his heyday. If we can find that, I’ll get that and send it to you, as opposed to something he’s taped on a cassette with talking all in the background and stuff.

Robert Stone:

Well actually, Chris Strachwitz who has done a lot … If you’ve seen his catalog, did you grab one of those catalogs?

Charles Flenory:

No, I didn’t grab one. I wish I did.

Robert Stone:

I think I have one out in my car.

Charles Flenory:

Okay.

Robert Stone:

I used to have one.

Charles Flenory:

Before you leave.

Robert Stone:

To give you more of an idea, first of all, Chris, his biggest weakness is 78s.

Charles Flenory:

Oh, yeah. Now see, Jewell was good-

Robert Stone:

But he’s …

Charles Flenory:

Bishop Jewell, The Jewell Singers, have you ever heard about them?

Lucille Flenory:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, I’ve heard.

Charles Flenory:

They made 78 records and she made money. They may not ever say they made money, but they made money off of-

Robert Stone:

Now did they make them on a label or was it their own? How did they do that?

Charles Flenory:

Some of it was on a label, some of it was their own.

Robert Stone:

Do you know what the label was, by any chance?

Charles Flenory:

You have one of them, if I could find that.

Lucille Flenory:

I’ll find it for you.

Charles Flenory:

And it’ll tell that label they was on.

Robert Stone:

So even if we just know the label, then we can-

Lucille Flenory:

Right-

Robert Stone:

We can-

Charles Flenory:

We can have …

Robert Stone:

We can find-

Lucille Flenory:

We can find it-

Robert Stone:

… the records or the-

Charles Flenory:

All right, we’ll get that also. So I won’t forget all these different things.

Robert Stone:

Yeah. Go figure, these English guys had done this-

Charles Flenory:

Incredible-

Robert Stone:

… biography, a list of recordings.

Charles Flenory:

Oh, okay. Okay.

Robert Stone:

For instance-

Charles Flenory:

Okay.

Robert Stone:

They had everything on Willie Eason, every session he ever did.

Lucille Flenory:

Really?

Charles Flenory:

They do?

Robert Stone:

Yeah, the list.

Charles Flenory:

The list on everything.

Robert Stone:

The record, when, what date, what city, the-

Charles Flenory:

Now see, I would love-

Robert Stone:

… recording-

Charles Flenory:

… some of that stuff.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, the book they did cost $200.00

Charles Flenory:

Just on the listing of-

Robert Stone:

But you don’t have to have the book. The Library of Congress has it. The Center for Black Music Research is in Ohio.

Charles Flenory:

Okay. You need to write some of this down-

Lucille Flenory:

That was the one that you were saying that had-

Charles Flenory:

That has a lot of-

Robert Stone:

Columbus, Ohio, is it?

Charles Flenory:

Is it Columbus?

Robert Stone:

I can’t remember, Center for Black Music Research, is the name of it. I’ve got it at home.

Charles Flenory:

Okay.

Lucille Flenory:

Those was his articles that I was reading?

Charles Flenory:

No, not all the articles weren’t his. There’s one he did-

Lucille Flenory:

You did a lot of research-

Robert Stone:

Yeah. And there’s more to be done. But anyhow, what I started to say is that if the material is strong enough …

Charles Flenory:

Okay.

Robert Stone:

If what’s happening musically is strong enough, there is an interest on the part of Chris Strachwitz and some other collectors to-

Charles Flenory:

To have that-

Robert Stone:

… actually issue CDs of this stuff, even though the fidelity might be off.

Charles Flenory:

Okay. But see-

Robert Stone:

Because-

Charles Flenory:

… now that stuff can be repaired with the computer.

Robert Stone:

Yeah. And some of it it’s like an old photograph. You can fix old photographs now, but sometimes you don’t want to.

Charles Flenory:

Exactly. You want-

Robert Stone:

Because when you fix them-

Charles Flenory:

It kills the originality.

Robert Stone:

It leaves a little something. So it can get to be a judgment call restoring these things. But man, you’ve got the hardware and all, and the know-how to do this. Wouldn’t it be a crying shame-

Charles Flenory:

It would be a crying shame-

Robert Stone:

… if-

Charles Flenory:

This stuff got lost.

Robert Stone:

Lorenzo Harrison’s music was lost and nobody ever heard it.

Charles Flenory:

Right, it would be a crying shame. Now, if I can, I’ll try to find some of his material in his heyday. Now, it’s not going to be as fast as this stuff is played now. Now Sonny Treadway is sweet on certain things. It’s going to be sweeter than him, a lot sweeter, a lot of more catchier stuff, a lot more moving. I’m not taking anything from Sonny, but it’s just two different players. They had two different feels, two different-

Robert Stone:

The hardest thing in the world is for two steel players to sound alike.

Charles Flenory:

And I used to sound just like Calvin.

Robert Stone:

But you had to work at it.

Charles Flenory:

I had to work at it to sound like Calvin. Then there came a time where I didn’t want to sound like Calvin- At what point do you be yourself?

Robert Stone:

Whereas other instruments, sometimes it’s hard not to sound like-

Charles Flenory:

Something else.

Robert Stone:

… everybody else

Charles Flenory:

Right. Now my guitar playing is similar. Chuck them tell me Phil can’t play the stuff I play. And some stuff he plays, I can’t play. Then some of it, I can. But I developed the finger picking stuff from Chet Atkins, Mary Ford, Les Paul, that was a influence on me. Charlie Earland, that’s a organ player, and all these. See, I have different influence, different style horn players influenced my guitar playing. Because I would want to play these notes that the horn players are playing and put it on the guitar. Or I might want to do some of these things the organs are doing and put it on the guitar.

Charles Flenory:

And then that’s what has made me be able to sit down with anybody and I can play with anybody. It doesn’t make it no difference what type of music they playing, I can do that. I can just fit right in. Now whether I’m going to play right, everything they’re doing, like another guitar player or steel player would, but I’m able to sit with my steel.

Charles Flenory:

I played with a lot of different people, organ players, and not have this fight and carrying on, going through. And to sit down with organ players and piano players and things don’t bother me at all, on any of the instruments, either guitar or steel.

Lucille Flenory:

Excuse me, didn’t Ronnie say he was trying to get his father’s music from … [inaudible name]?

Charles Flenory:

Well it’s transferred from the reel-to-reels to cassette.

Lucille Flenory:

So maybe we could do it-

Charles Flenory:

Ronnie Hall’s father is, well, he’s almost a hundred years old so he has things from the Jewell side all the way over to the Keith side. He’s got-

Lucille Flenory:

So if we could get access to his music-

Charles Flenory:

… Felton Williams-

Charles Flenory:

He’s got- when Sonny Treadway was a little boy. He’s got all this stuff, and he’s always been this way. And it’s stored, he’s stores it at the right temperature and all of that. Now he’s in a nursing home now because-

Lucille Flenory:

His son.

Charles Flenory:

… he’s so old. So it’s been transferred to his son. Now if I can get Ronnie to …

Lucille Flenory:

Release-

Charles Flenory:

Release some of that, plus with some stuff that I might have that I got to find in my archives, then we may can come up with something.

Lucille Flenory:

That’s right.

Charles Flenory:

Of all these guys-

Lucille Flenory:

Because like you said, it would, it would really be sad if-

Charles Flenory:

And see, I got hours and hours of Ronnie playing on the steel.

Robert Stone:

Actually, if you were to run onto some stuff that was worthwhile, you could even get a grant or something.

Charles Flenory:

You think so?

Robert Stone:

Oh, yeah.

Charles Flenory:

Well I have some stuff that I believe is worthwhile.

Robert Stone:

That’s the thing that those funding agencies are interested in-

Charles Flenory:

For history.

Robert Stone:

… is helping a cultural community. And your church would be the cultural community.

Charles Flenory:

Okay.

Robert Stone:

It could be a religious group.

Charles Flenory:

Okay, so I’ll-

Robert Stone:

A cultural community could be a occupational group, religious group, ethnic group or some mix of all that anyhow, to help you preserve, archive your culture, document your culture. So, I can help you along those lines, too.

Charles Flenory:

Okay.

Robert Stone:

I actually still get involved in workshops to teach people how to do that.

Charles Flenory:

Okay. Well I’d-

Robert Stone:

I been telling you about the black and white-

Charles Flenory:

I’d appreciate getting into that. That would be nice, because there’s a whole history of the steel playing within both churches, and how different children were inspired by the different musicians. I’ve had children come to me and I’m sitting and playing in service. And they just walk out of the clear, blue sky. And they’d come and our church would make them sit down. I would never let them do it, if a child was walking towards me, I’d let him come on. I’d put him on my lap and I’d play with him. And they end up being guitar players. They’d have to get a guitar for this child.

Charles Flenory:

And I’ve had that happen many times. They just out of the clear, blue sky. Some of them would be babies toddling to me. Some would be a little bit older, old enough, four, five years old, or something like that. I would always greet them, “Welcome.” Let them come and they’d sit next to me or they’d sit on my lap.

Robert Stone:

Well there’s always the kids-

Lucille Flenory:

And we’re-

Robert Stone:

… the young people that sit in the pews right beside the band and they’re watch every move.

Charles Flenory:

Exactly.

Robert Stone:

Yeah.

Charles Flenory:

Right.

Robert Stone:

That’s the school-

Charles Flenory:

Now I was one of those-

Robert Stone:

… right there.

Charles Flenory:

That was the school, that was me.

Robert Stone:

Who were you watching?

Charles Flenory:

My first guy that I watched a lot and really liked, like I told you, was Fred Neal. From Fred Neal was Lorenzo Harrison. But I didn’t care a lot, like I told you. It didn’t take nothing from his playing and it doesn’t take anything. It’s just who I chose to try to help me along with my playing, and Calvin was a great influence. But Lloyd Green, Jerry Byrd, Pete Drake and the guys like that is really what influenced my playing. Because Steel Guitar Rags, they played it without pedals in the original time. Santo & Johnny, remember that song?

Robert Stone:

Sleep Walk.

Charles Flenory:

Right, Sleep Walk. That did a lot. I think that’s one of the number one steel songs there is, period.

Robert Stone:

I play it all the time. People love that.

Charles Flenory:

And then somebody tried redoing it-

Lucille Flenory:

[inaudible] … I love that-

Charles Flenory:

… and they did it with a guitar. It still won’t quite have the flavor that-

Lucille Flenory:

Right-

Charles Flenory:

… the original had.

Robert Stone:

You got to get-

Lucille Flenory:

It’s beautiful-

Robert Stone:

You got to get that harmonic.

Charles Flenory:

You got to get that …

Lucille Flenory:

It’s beautiful. That’s almost like Crazy-

Charles Flenory:

Now those songs really influenced me.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, that is, isn’t it?

Lucille Flenory:

Crazy. That’s-

Charles Flenory:

Green Onions, back in the day. All of that stuff really influenced my playing because that was more on our flavor, a churchy flavor and it had a lot of influence on the way I did things.

Lucille Flenory:

They had four steels set up in the St. Louis Convention. And each one of the steel guitar players played their style of Crazy. And then they all came together-

Charles Flenory:

This last time-

Lucille Flenory:

… and they played it together. And-

Charles Flenory:

It drove her nuts.

Lucille Flenory:

Oh-

Robert Stone:

It’s a great song.

Lucille Flenory:

Everybody that had tape recorders, if I could have found somebody.

Robert Stone:

You know who wrote it, don’t you?

Lucille Flenory:

Oh, God.

Charles Flenory:

Who? Crazy?

Robert Stone:

Yeah.

Charles Flenory:

I don’t know who wrote it.

Robert Stone:

You don’t? Yeah, you do.

Charles Flenory:

Patsy Cline? She-

Robert Stone:

No.

Charles Flenory:

She didn’t write it.

Lucille Flenory:

No, she didn’t write it. She sung it. She sung it.

Charles Flenory:

Who wrote it?

Robert Stone:

Willie Nelson.

Charles Flenory:

Willie Nelson wrote that song?

Lucille Flenory:

You’re kidding-

Robert Stone:

Words and music. Willie Nelson. That’s his big one.

Charles Flenory:

Oh, man.

Lucille Flenory:

Oh, it was so beautiful. I told him, “We’ll never be able to capture that again.”

Charles Flenory:

Well, we’ll get Paul to play it again. I know Paul Franklin’s parents and brother and all of that. So-

Lucille Flenory:

So that’s how I feel about that song right there-

Robert Stone:

Yeah that’s Willie Nelson’s song.

Lucille Flenory:

Willie Nelson.

Charles Flenory:

I never knew that. All right.

Robert Stone:

Well, I think I’m going to head out to the-

Charles Flenory:

Restaurant-

Robert Stone:

… there’s a dance going on over there I want to go to-

Lucille Flenory:

Oh, yeah, they did say there was going to be a dance-

Charles Flenory:

You want to go to- Okay.

Robert Stone:

Thanks, thanks.

PART 4 OF 4 ENDS [01:32:04]

 

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