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Ted Beard Interview

In about 1933-34, Church of the Living God Chief Overseer Bishop Mattie Lu Jewell brought Ted Beard’s father, Maurice Beard, Sr., from Beaver Dam, Kentucky to play for worship services in Detroit, Michigan.  Elder Ted Beard, Bishop Ron Hall, Calvin Cooke and Sonny Treadway grew up together in Detroit. Ted Beard’s family eventually left the Church of the Living God, Jewell Dominion and joined the House of God, Keith Dominion, as did the families of Ron Hall and Calvin Cooke.  In his service as a church musician, minister, and Coordinator of Music at the House of God General Assembly in Nashville, Tennessee, Elder Beard has influenced and helped many young steel guitarists.  He recalled Warner Bros. recording artist Robert Randolph as his most outstanding pupil.  “His knowledge of music is just—woo, just amazing!  I never helped anyone that was the type of pupil that he was, that catch on as fast as he did.” 

– Robert L. Stone

The Robert Stone Sacred Steel Archive:
Ted Beard Interview

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  • The Robert Stone Sacred Steel Archive: Ted Beard Interview 00:00
Interviewee: Elder Maurice “Ted” Beard, Jr.
Interviewer: Robert Stone
Date: 6/12/1996
Location: Nashville, TN
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

Ted Beard Interview Transcript:

Robert Stone:

All right. This is Bob Stone, I’m interviewing Mr. Maurice Beard. We’re here at the National Assembly of the Keith Dominion Church in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m looking for a place to set this recorder. Maybe I can set it right here on the-

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, right here would be all right-

Robert Stone:

Yeah. Maybe you could pull up a little closer. And we’re talking about his experience playing the steel guitar in the church, in the House of God Church. Did I get your… I didn’t get your date of birth. That’s one thing I- What is your date of birth?

Maurice Ted Beard:

June 15th.

Robert Stone:

6/15

Maurice Ted Beard:

’35. 1935.

Robert Stone:

’35. And where were you born?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Detroit, Michigan.

Robert Stone:

And one of the usual questions is, do you have musicians in your family?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh, yes.

Robert Stone:

Who? Your father? Or…

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh, yes. My father was a guitarist.

Robert Stone:

Spanish guitar?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right. And he used to play for one of the bishops in the church. As a matter of fact, he played for the Overseer. Him and a guy played the banjo, I can’t remember his name.

Robert Stone:

Is that right?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah. But they was the musicians for the Chief at that time. And they traveled. Wherever the Chief went, that’s where then went too. He was-

Robert Stone:

And who was the Chief then? Was this the House of God?

Maurice Ted Beard:

No. This was… Well, it was House of God, but at the time it was the Jewell Dominion, with Sonny Treadway, and Harrison, and all those guys, my father was there.

Robert Stone:

Right.

Maurice Ted Beard:

In 1955 we made a… we came over to the Keith Dominion.

Robert Stone:

To the Keith Dominion.

Maurice Ted Beard:

All of us used to be together at one time. And after one of the main Chief Overseers died, then the church became split up three ways.

Robert Stone:

Right. I’m familiar with that.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right. And the court ruled that all of them was equal but still…

Robert Stone:

But the Keith is the largest now by far?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh yes.

Robert Stone:

It looks to me like it’s maybe four or five times the size of the Jewell Dominion, something like that. And I’m basing that judging from the size of the state assembly, that’s why I say large. So how did you get started playing?

Maurice Ted Beard:

I remember I was a little boy and I remember a guy by the name of Fred Neil, I don’t even know if he is still living, but I think he went out California way. Tall guy, he would come to the church, and I was born in the church, he would come, a tall guy, about six feet and he had this six string Hawaiian at the time, they called it.

Robert Stone:

Lap steel?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, lap steel and he would play in the church and I was a little boy and I was just fascinated by the sound this instrument would make. So when I got about 12 years old, my parents bought me a six string, that old six string Gibson.

Robert Stone:

The Gibson lap steel?

Maurice Ted Beard:

A Gibson lap steel, right. They give it to me and my mom gave me about 10 lessons. She sent me downtown. Grinnell’s had some teachers.

Robert Stone:

Grinnell’s Music Store?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Music store, yeah.

Robert Stone:

Where was that?

Maurice Ted Beard:

That was downtown Detroit.

Robert Stone:

Is it still there?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Don’t hear too much about Grinnell’s but they used to sell all kind of music.

Robert Stone:

So this was… you were what, 10 years old?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Twelve years old, at the time.

Robert Stone:

Late ’40s?

Maurice Ted Beard:

1947.

Robert Stone:

’47 and they were Hawaiian lessons?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yes.

Robert Stone:

Was it that Honolulu conservatory stuff?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Basically, all the fundamentals yeah. She only had enough money for me to get 10 lessons. After 10 lessons she told me her money was gone and now I had to go on my own. He had enough time to show me the fundamentals, how to tune and “Oh say can you see,” that’s how I knew the tuning.

Robert Stone:

So what tuning was that? Was that the A tuning or the E7? You don’t know?

Maurice Ted Beard:

I forgot.

Robert Stone:

You based it on the first words of the Star Spangled Banner?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). With the bass. “Oh, oh, say can you see?” That’s the six strings.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, I’ll have to think about that, what notes those are.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah. It’s on there now, I can go over there and get it.

Robert Stone:

What tuning do you play now? You play a 10-string?

Maurice Ted Beard:

I play a 10-string…

Robert Stone:

Sho-Bud.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right.

Robert Stone:

What tuning is it?

Maurice Ted Beard:

My lead string is in the key of E# and it’s a tuning that I have really devised in my long years of playing. Like I said, I heard these guys and I heard Harrison and then Harrison would come with the Chief Overseer and then you didn’t have nobody to listen to. So basically I started developing my own style. So my tuning you will find out is a cross, and I probably should have my papers in here so you could… I’ll give it all to you later.

Robert Stone:

We can get it. So you’ve got it written down?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh yeah.

Robert Stone:

What the tuning is?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yes.

Robert Stone:

So basically it’s an E#?

Maurice Ted Beard:

It’s E9, yeah it could be that. It’s the regular tuning in the beginning but all my bass strings is changed.

Robert Stone:

So you play the bass strings, you’ve got heavier strings probably than are in a pedal steel?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right.

Robert Stone:

Do you use the pedals much?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh yes.

Robert Stone:

You do?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh yeah.

Robert Stone:

But you don’t play the country style really.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Not quite.

Robert Stone:

You’ve got your own way.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

Now did you ever have any lessons on the pedal guitar?

Maurice Ted Beard:

No.

Robert Stone:

You came up with your own set up?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right.

Robert Stone:

How about your… we’re kind of jumping, maybe we ought to slow down and back track. After you got that six-string Hawaiian, which is probably in E or A tuning, I don’t know what. Then you played like that? Ultimately started playing in church.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right. My father was the pastor and he ultimately became a bishop in this church.

Robert Stone:

What was his name?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Bishop Maurice Beard.

Robert Stone:

Senior. So you’re a junior right?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Mm-hmm.

Robert Stone:

And is he passed away now?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yes. He died in ’81.

Robert Stone:

In ’81?

Maurice Ted Beard:

1981.

Robert Stone:

And he was a pastor right there in Detroit?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Mt. Clemens, yeah, in Detroit. First he was in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. Then he was the pastor in Detroit and become bishop over the diocese in Detroit, Diocese Two. He presided over the state of Michigan, Diocese Two. That means there was two bishops there, one presided over Diocese One and one presided over Diocese Two. So I had plenty opportunity to play. My grandmother was a bishop when we went to Jewell. So I used to split.

Robert Stone:

What was her name?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Janie Tate.

Robert Stone:

She was a Tate?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Janie Tate.

Robert Stone:

So you’re related to the Tates?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Mother Tate’s husband, after Mother Tate died, eventually married my grandmama. He was her second husband and that’s how she got to be a Tate.

Robert Stone:

Oh my goodness. Well of course as you well know what I’m finding as I research here is that there’s a lot of relations. Of course there’s a lot of people… Glenn Lee for instance, who has kinfolk in both dominions.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right.

Robert Stone:

And there are people that have changed from one to the other and some maybe change and come back again.

Maurice Ted Beard:

That’s true.

Robert Stone:

I’ve heard some talk about some people think that the two dominions are closer now than they’ve ever been.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, they are. It was a great rivalry with the old Chief Overseers, you know?

Robert Stone:

Yeah.

Maurice Ted Beard:

The old Chief Overseers kind of often see now the younger ones… they want to get unity.

Robert Stone:

That’s great.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Visit now.

Robert Stone:

Of course one thing that’s come out of it is that really, it’s a generalization but there are really two different approaches to the guitar, to the steel guitar as a result of that split.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Exactly.

Robert Stone:

The one that Harrison brought. How about Willie Eason? Did you have contact with him? Were you exposed to his playing?

Maurice Ted Beard:

No. I finally saw Bishop- Willie Eason one year when one of our bishops died and they had this film in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and I was there at that film. Willie Eason was there.

Robert Stone:

That was fairly recently?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yes, that was… it had to be in the ’80s I’m sure.

Robert Stone:

So were you influenced once you started playing in church, were you influenced by any of those… by Harrison, maybe?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh yeah.

Robert Stone:

You were?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

Would you say he was a significant influence for you?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right. He was the most significant. Until I moved from that diocese.

Robert Stone:

That was in 1955.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right, 1955.

Robert Stone:

Up until ’55, he influenced your playing?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right whenever he came with the Chief, he would be the main player. He was… like my dad used to travel with the Chief.

Robert Stone:

Meanwhile, Henry Nelson was establishing a lot of the sound that people were used to in the Keith Dominion, isn’t that right?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right, that’s what I hear.

Robert Stone:

So when you joined the Keith Dominion, did you have to change a little?

Maurice Ted Beard:

No, basically there was period there when Henry Nelson wasn’t here when we came in. When I started playing down here, Henry Nelson wasn’t here. From what I can understand, he was with his wife and they was playing for her father’s church. So he wasn’t really here.

Robert Stone:

Okay, we can erase it verbally. So with Henry Nelson, all you know is that he wasn’t here when you came in ’55.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, well when I started playing down here in the ’60s.

Robert Stone:

In the ’60s? It was in the ’60s before you started playing here in Nashville?

Maurice Ted Beard:

In Nashville, right.

Robert Stone:

Okay.

Maurice Ted Beard:

And he wasn’t here at that time. And then so I didn’t know about him until probably in the ’70s.

Robert Stone:

I didn’t realize there was some time until he played here. See there’s…

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, now he might have played before.

Robert Stone:

And then as gone for a few years.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right. Because when I first came in Nashville in 1961, there was no steel players or guitar players playing down here.

Robert Stone:

Oh, is that right?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yes.

Robert Stone:

In ’61.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right.

Robert Stone:

So you were the first?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Well, some of the guys told me they played down here before but all I can say is what I know about. In ’61, it was only the organ and piano. And in ’62 I didn’t come back and that’s the only year I’ve missed up until the present time.

Robert Stone:

So from ’63 on…

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right, and I didn’t start playing until about ’64 or ’65 I started playing.

Robert Stone:

Okay.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Then I was put over…

Robert Stone:

So you’ve been coming here basically 30 years.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yes.

Robert Stone:

You’ve been playing at this assembly? Wow.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right.

Robert Stone:

Now was this building… how long has this building been here?

Maurice Ted Beard:

This one here?

Robert Stone:

Yeah.

Maurice Ted Beard:

This one was just built in ’81.

Robert Stone:

It’s a beautiful facility.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right, we was in the other building where the local church was.

Robert Stone:

Right.

Maurice Ted Beard:

That’s where I was.

Robert Stone:

Okay.

Maurice Ted Beard:

So this was built in ’81. That’s the same year my dad died but he died early ’81 and this building opened in June of ’81. So my dad never did see the building. Although he was a bishop over Tennessee, he saw it being built, but before he could get in for the opening day, he had died in January.

Robert Stone:

Yeah. How about your playing influences, do you listen to country music? What are some of the things that you know might have influenced your playing?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Well I didn’t listen to country but I do like country. I like all music really, except hard rock.

Robert Stone:

Yeah.

Maurice Ted Beard:

I like gospel. I like old time gospel. I’m not too keyed up on this contemporary gospel.

Robert Stone:

Contemporary?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, but it’s nice. I know the young people cater to that but I like old gospel. You’ll find that country and western and gospel, it’s kind of mixed in together because the country and western sings all those nice songs that gospel use. I’ve never been in the world so I wasn’t influenced by the blues or anything like that.

Robert Stone:

You’ve always played in church?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right, always played in church. When I first started playing with my upgrade tempo, I was told I was playing jazz in church. You should be ashamed to come to this church with that jazz. I just had an uptempo way of playing and it wasn’t jazz. I would tell them if it is, well it’s what God give me because I haven’t been anywhere else to get anything. It finally got over real good.

Robert Stone:

So you don’t collect records by other steel players or anything? Have you got any by Buddy Emmons or Jerry Byrd or some of those guys?

Maurice Ted Beard:

I do have some. No.

Robert Stone:

No? Are you familiar with their music at all?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Jerry Byrd, no. I’ll tell you one, one time I was down here at Sho-Bud, I used to go down there. Was his name Jerry?

Robert Stone:

Doug Jernigan?

Maurice Ted Beard:

No, it’s the son of the older guy.

Robert Stone:

Oh, Jerry Jackson? Shot Jackson was… those were the two guys.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, okay well, he the one sold me my guitar.

Robert Stone:

Jerry?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). And I would come down to the shop and told me go on upstairs Beard, and guys be up there playing and we gone up there one day and Julian Sharp was up there. I had my wife with me. That was a pleasure.

Robert Stone:

Julia Sharp?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Julian. Julian Sharp.

Robert Stone:

I’m not familiar.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Tharpe, I’m sorry. Julian Tharpe.

Robert Stone:

Tharpe, yeah.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Tharpe, I’m sorry. He was the best that I’ve seen play. There was a lot of them playing, you know. Me and my wife looked at him, the way he was moving up and down, I think he was on a 15-string. One that was made for him and oh, man. And yeah, I bought a record off of him. I was so impressed by him, I did buy a record. When I have the musicians around and I will play it to show them just what can be done with a steel guitar. I was impressed by him but I’d never try to imitate him. He’s a different type of player.

Robert Stone:

Different type, mm-hmm (affirmative). So you do have some people that you’re teaching a little bit now? Helping some?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

Who are they and where are they?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Well I do seminars throughout the church. Whenever state call me and want a seminar.

Robert Stone:

Back in Michigan?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Anywhere.

Robert Stone:

Or other states?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, I’ve been to Florida. I have been to New York. I’m supposed to get a call for Jersey. I’ve been to Connecticut. I may look at Ohio. Basically, the seminar… I know we’ve got a rich tradition here and so what I’ll try to do with the young guys is try to teach them in our tradition. And keep this tradition that we’ve got and teach them the fundamentals of playing.

Robert Stone:

That’s great. So these are like teenagers or guys in their twenties?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, these are upcoming musicians, yeah in the church.

Robert Stone:

Who are some of them? Can you rattle off any names? Well for instance, the bishop’s son, what’s his name, Darnell?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh yeah, James Elliott?

Robert Stone:

Yeah.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Whatever he asks me, if he want’s to… no problem. He’s been listening to me. Whatever he wants, if I’m around, no problem. Yeah, I’ll show any of the guys, whatever I’m doing. I don’t leave it up to them to try to figure out. If they want to know, if they ask me, hey, I’ll just show it to them.

Robert Stone:

I’m interested, this thing about, you use… and I’ll take a photo of it later, you use a bullet bar, a large bullet bar for full, 10-string bar. And then you have a couple of semi circular grooves cut in it so you can lift it like a Stevens Bar. So it fits in your hands like a Stevens Bar.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right.

Robert Stone:

That’s pretty innovative.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, I used to have a guy in Nashville would do it. I had about six done. I end up giving them away or selling them or whatever. That’s the last one I have. I hope I can hold on to that. The way we play and the technique we have, it fits our technique because we have to have control of the bar.

Robert Stone:

You have to lift it a lot?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, we have to lift it because we kill the strings with our bar hand instead of doing it with the picking hand.

Robert Stone:

That’s a major difference between your approach and the country players.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Country and western, right.

Robert Stone:

The regular Nashville country approach. And even the western swing guys, they’re all right hand blocking is big, big, big.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah I guess with the big bar, I really perfected but that’s the way we have always played.

Robert Stone:

Right. I know Glenn Lee plays a Stevens Bar on his pedal steel. Which is unheard of-

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

– in the rest of the world.

Maurice Ted Beard:

That’s the way we have been.

Robert Stone:

Always, yeah. You use the open strings some.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

You do… of course I’m somewhat familiar with the church, you do your praise or jubilee music, that driving music?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right.

Robert Stone:

Then some hymns?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

This weekend, if we can get a few hymns and stuff, that’d be good too. Do you have your own version of the Offertory March, the House of God March? You do some of that?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah well what we do, that’s why they call it the House of God March because basically what I heard… like I said, I heard the organ do the march that first year I come down. That’s the way they would do it, dun, dun, dun. I don’t know where it came before them but then when I came in with my steel, and actually I picked up on it and I guess I have really pushed it further in the church because everybody try to imitate.

Robert Stone:

It’s great. Then do you… like some of the other players like… well Aubrey’s is not in the church anymore but Glenn Lee, I know they’ll go into a medley or they’ll go right into When the Saints Go Marching In or I’ll Fly Away.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah well all that’s part of it.

Robert Stone:

You do the same thing?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah. All that’s part of it. You just play it for yourself but you keep it in that march thing but you start off with this… I don’t know what the name of that song. In fact the lady told me, it’s not quite Onward Christian Soldier.

Robert Stone:

Well Willy Eason says he started doing that. And he says it’s based on Onward Christian Soldiers and I said, “It is?” He said, “Onward Christian Soldiers,” and I said, “Well I guess so.”

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yep, all I know… and it goes further because I know the organist was playing it at the offering time.

Robert Stone:

It’s great.

Maurice Ted Beard:

When I started then I would start off with that, then I’ll jump into When the Saints Go Marching In. And if you hear me tonight, you’ll hear a few other things.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, we’ll be right here waiting for it. That’s one of the things I enjoy is the variety of the music. Do you ever use any effects?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Not too much. Not too much. The phase came with the amp, sometime I would use that.

Robert Stone:

Shifter?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Now the guys have a little… what this thing they’re using now? But down here…

Robert Stone:

Chorus you mean?

Maurice Ted Beard:

No the Wah-wah.

Robert Stone:

Wah-wah?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah. I have probably one tune that I kick it in when I do the wah-wah and as soon as I get through doing that little thing, I kick it back out. You know what I mean? I don’t feel like we should play things like that.

Robert Stone:

Do you use a volume pedal?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yes.

Robert Stone:

You use a foot pedal?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah my guitar has no volume knobs.

Robert Stone:

So you use the pedal?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yes, just straight tone.

Robert Stone:

But you work the pedal on some numbers to make a note swell?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right, right, right. I’ve learned how to do all that on my own. I had no one to teach me.

Robert Stone:

That’s great. That’s why you get your own sound.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

Right. Gosh you’ve been playing this event here for over 30 years.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

That’s incredible. I’m looking forward to tonight. I was trying to think, you’ve never played outside the church.

Maurice Ted Beard:

No.

Robert Stone:

Just church music.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Started with a 6-string, that Gibson.

Robert Stone:

Did you ever play an 8-string or a double eight or anything like that?

Maurice Ted Beard:

I was just going to get into, in 1956 I believe, or ’57 I bought a double neck Fender, blonde Fender.

Robert Stone:

Double eight?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Double eight.

Robert Stone:

I’ve got one.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Sent to California, oh man. It came-

Robert Stone:

What year?

Maurice Ted Beard:

I think it was around ’56 or ’57.

Robert Stone:

I have a ’57.

Maurice Ted Beard:

It was after I got grown.

Robert Stone:

With the two diamonds on the front?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

The chrome diamonds? Four legs?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right. What I did, I took it all completely down and re-did it and it’s beautiful.

Robert Stone:

Oh you’ve refinished it?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Refinished it myself.

Robert Stone:

It’s still blonde?

Maurice Ted Beard:

It’s more… I just tinted it a little bit but I should have just left… after I sanded it down, what I wanted to do was just varnish it clear. But I tinted it just a little bit and it’s beautiful now. It’s beautiful. My son… you know I won’t never get rid of that but my son, who will be down, he’s playing bass on the national level. He’s playing steel in Cleveland. That’s where he’s married and that. So he has it now. But I have about six guitars.

Robert Stone:

And what’s his name?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Maurice Beard III.

Robert Stone:

The third. And he’s in Cleveland?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah. He’ll be here.

Robert Stone:

Okay great.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh, you might miss him because I don’t think he’s coming til Friday.

Robert Stone:

Til the weekend, yeah.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

Well, there’s always next year. Do you get to Florida? You get to Florida some.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh yeah, I play in Florida every year in March. I play for the state assembly. Bishop Elliott.

Robert Stone:

Okay. In March is the bishop’s birthday, right?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Is his birthday…

Robert Stone:

The assembly I thought was in November.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, his state assembly is in March.

Robert Stone:

Is that right?

Maurice Ted Beard:

It’s always ends the first week in March. I’ve been going down there for about 20 years or more.

Robert Stone:

Okay, well I might see you over there.

Maurice Ted Beard:

I used to do that when the other Chief Overseer had that and he invited me and had me coming down, playing for state assembly.

Robert Stone:

That was Jenkins?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Jenkins, yeah. He was over Alabama and Florida. And he the one who first chose me over the music here to be coordinator of the general assembly musicians.

Robert Stone:

That’s great.

Maurice Ted Beard:

They used to have a lot of problems. They used to have bishops and elders over and there would be a lot of problems with the musicians and before he died, he paid me a real great compliment, he said there’d been less confusion since you’ve been head of the music then had ever been in the history of the church.

Robert Stone:

Well that’s great. That’s great. Yeah, it seems pretty settled now.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh yeah.

Robert Stone:

That’s good. I’ll have to get everybody’s name tonight, just like that paper I got from you but can you real quick tell me who these guys are that were playing with you earlier?

Maurice Ted Beard:

This morning?

Robert Stone:

Yeah, who’s on the bass?

Maurice Ted Beard:

The bass is Lorenzo Dudley. And he’s out of Cleveland, I’m sorry, he’s out of Florida.

Robert Stone:

Yeah.

Maurice Ted Beard:

And he plays steel too. Now he’s playing… he’s been playing bass down here quite a while. He’s a throwback to some of the old bass players I used to have that plays that heavy bass. Heavy, nice bass.

Robert Stone:

Did I notice, was he playing like a five or six string bass?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, he’ll switch. It’s the first time I’ve seen it.

Robert Stone:

Okay, so Lorenzo Dudley on bass. And who was your drummer?

Maurice Ted Beard:

The drummer was Shane Lee. He’s out of Florida too. My main drummer, he won’t be here, he’s Rochester, New York name of Mac Dillett. He won’t be here this year, he had a car accident and is having big problems. His parents told me. And then I have Kenny Ellis on the steel guitar.

Robert Stone:

On Spanish guitar.

Maurice Ted Beard:

On Spanish, yeah. And he really is my main man. Together with me and him, we have developed this sound that mostly you hear.

Robert Stone:

What keys do you play in mostly?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Whatever they sing.

Robert Stone:

So you play any of them. But when you’re doing your instrumentals and stuff, like when you did a march…

Maurice Ted Beard:

Okay, I would do-

Robert Stone:

And your praise music?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Which would be middle C which on my guitar would be a G#, I guess. You know, five frets down.

Robert Stone:

Okay.

Maurice Ted Beard:

That give me room to back up and go down.

Robert Stone:

Right.

Maurice Ted Beard:

By me being in C#, I think it’s G#, isn’t it, for me?

Robert Stone:

Right. F#. On the fifth fret?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

Fifth fret would be F#. Yeah, so F#.

Maurice Ted Beard:

You know we used to call it middle C when we was tuning always.

Robert Stone:

Yeah so it’s interesting that a lot of you guys are tuned to keys that the rest of the world doesn’t… like Henry Nelson tunes to Eb.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh yeah, we’re all different.

Robert Stone:

It’s fascinating.

Maurice Ted Beard:

We all are different. Well really, if I had the strings, my strings won’t allow me to get up in E. Like what the E9 call for. Because I go up high, you know.

Robert Stone:

Right.

Maurice Ted Beard:

When I go over, I’m going to higher notes and that’s the way I design and do instead of- It keep me from running all over the thing I just go up high, you see?

Robert Stone:

Right.

Maurice Ted Beard:

By going over. So with the thin gauge that I use, it won’t allow me to… matter of fact, I went to D and dropped it down to D, and still would break the strings. So you can see on the steel, I done dropped it a half tone and I’m getting good results. Dropped it to C sharp and I’m getting good results. But that’s… it would be anywhere if my strings could handle it.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, but also I know it’s a sound you want.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

The sound you wanted. That’s interesting.

Maurice Ted Beard:

So I use different gauges to get the tightness that I need.

Robert Stone:

Right. You play a lot on the bass strings, I’ll bet.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

That Jewell Dominion influence?

Maurice Ted Beard:

No, no really we have bass players here. We have a bunch of bass players here.

Robert Stone:

Because they don’t use them in the Jewell.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right. We have bass players so it’s no need for me to play bass. But I know how, like I said, I used to come up with Harrison and I know how. And I can do it. But I don’t get in the area because most of the time, we’re going to have three pieces.

Robert Stone:

Right.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Or four pieces. We’re going to have that bass player.

Robert Stone:

And then of course you’ve got the organ and the keyboard.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh yeah, down here we’ve got a whole band. But like on the local level, you might end up… I love to play with just me and a bass and drums.

Robert Stone:

Drums.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh yeah, that allow me to integrate my own background.

Robert Stone:

Right, more freedom.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right.

Robert Stone:

Yeah. The more instruments you’ve got, the tighter you all have to be.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, I know. I know how that goes.

Maurice Ted Beard:

And it get loose here because we in the church love music. We’re free to stay within the context of what we doing.

Robert Stone:

Yeah.

Maurice Ted Beard:

I guess I brought about a lot of that freedom.

Robert Stone:

Great.

Maurice Ted Beard:

I like to be free when I play. I don’t like to get in a box with three chords or something like that if I can branch out. And I like my bass player and my guitar player to have the run, as long as they stay within the context.

Robert Stone:

Yeah.

Maurice Ted Beard:

And you might see that probably tonight. You will see.

Robert Stone:

So you like to break out of the three chord thing?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh yeah, oh yeah.

Robert Stone:

That’s good. I’m looking forward to hearing that. Of course as you know, you can do a whole lot with three chords.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah.

Maurice Ted Beard:

… do this again.

Robert Stone:

Well that’s right. Rest assured that this material, I’ll take good care of it and if there’s a way I can deposit it in a state archive in Michigan or something, I’ll find out about that.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Okay.

Robert Stone:

That’s one thing that I’m after is to document the tradition and preserve it.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh yeah, that’s great.

Robert Stone:

I want to do something similar to what I did with that first project except better and more further on. Expand out on a national level because it’s great music. It’s a great tradition. See here, I’m learning stuff about your… now you say you have your tunings written down?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh yeah.

Robert Stone:

Because I’d like to get that from you if I could because that’s fascinating to me…

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah I put many of them down because when the younger guys come along, “How did you tune this type of thing-?” I just tell them I put them on a pad and just tear it out and give it to them.

Robert Stone:

Do you use any… let’s talk about playing the guitar some. Do you ever use slanted bar stuff or do you just use the pedal?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

Because I know you learn that when you learn Hawaiian, right?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right. That’s some of the stuff that guy in the first 10 lessons taught me how to slant the bar.

Robert Stone:

So you still do that?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

So you use the pedals and you slant?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah if I can’t find it on the pedals I see if I can slant it. If I can’t find it slanting, I’ll see if I can pedal it or something. Or knee it or something.

Robert Stone:

So you’ve got three pedals?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, three pedals and four knees.

Robert Stone:

Oh you have four knees?

Maurice Ted Beard:

I’ve got four knees, yeah.

Robert Stone:

So that’s plenty for one neck.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh yeah. I’ve got two of my… I’m still learning, you know what I mean?

Robert Stone:

Sure until the day you die you’ll be learning.

Maurice Ted Beard:

I’ve got stuff I don’t even, you can’t do nothing with them.

Robert Stone:

Right.

Maurice Ted Beard:

I haven’t gotten to the peak yet.

Robert Stone:

Right. What are the other guitars that you have? You said you’ve got six?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah I have two 6-strings, Hawaiians.

Robert Stone:

What are they?

Maurice Ted Beard:

One of them is a Supro. One of them is… what is the name of that guitar? It’s a famous name but the name is not on it but when I took it in for the guy to…

Robert Stone:

Is it an Epiphone?

Maurice Ted Beard:

No. What did he tell me?

Robert Stone:

A Kay? A Wahoo? Magnatone?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Nope.

Robert Stone:

We’re running out… Gibson? Fender?

Maurice Ted Beard:

It’s not a Rickenbacker.

Robert Stone:

National?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

A National, okay. Is it the black and white one?

Maurice Ted Beard:

No, it’s a blonde one. Has a thick neck. The neck is thick. The whole guitar is thick. It’s made in the form of a guitar. It’s a 6-string. When I took it in for the pick up, he told me it was an old National. I said, “Really?” It doesn’t have the name on it anywhere.

Robert Stone:

Right.

Maurice Ted Beard:

And I don’t think I put my name on it. But I like that one. And I have another 6-string which is a Supro which I think is made by Gibson. I used to have an old Supro my aunt… that was my second one, 6-string I used to play. My aunt kind of begged me hard for it so I finally let her have it. I should never gotten rid of it. I also have my Fender double eight.

Robert Stone:

Double eight.

Maurice Ted Beard:

I have another one, it may be a Magnatone double eight. I don’t have the top string, it just has the bottom.

Robert Stone:

Is it on legs?

Maurice Ted Beard:

On legs, it’s all wooden body. Wooden body. I have a 6-string, on legs with four pedals. Now what is the name of that one? I can’t think of the name. My son found it in a music store in Cleveland and then called me and asked me did I want it. I told him yes. And that one, I recently got it. A whole lot could be done with that one. It comes… you know how the legs are. The legs are all up here and a little feather like.

Robert Stone:

Right, the pedals are in one corner.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, that’s probably a very early guitar.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh yeah. You could tell it’s back there, in the early makings of it, you know. Hopper Chord, no that ain’t quite the name but it’s from some company…

Robert Stone:

I forget the name of it.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, you might have seen it at the time.

Robert Stone:

Well, I’ve seen them in books. Matter of fact, I’ve seen one that a guy has in Ocala that has… or a guy down in Venice. There’s a steel guitar shop in Venice, Florida. Do you know where that is? Between Ft. Myers and Sarasota.

Maurice Ted Beard:

I think Denard took me to it.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, Denard.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah took me to that guy.

Robert Stone:

Yeah because he said Denard’s been in there. I talked to him.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, oh yeah. He’s a good player too. I heard him play.

Robert Stone:

Very good.

Maurice Ted Beard:

He come to church and heard me.

Robert Stone:

Is that right?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, he come to church and Denard just told me, “Man that guy is still talking about you.”

Robert Stone:

When was that?

Maurice Ted Beard:

In March, during the state assembly.

Robert Stone:

See because I told him about you guys.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh yeah?

Robert Stone:

When I was working on the album.

Maurice Ted Beard:

No kidding.

Robert Stone:

And I’ve got to get in touch with him. Dave Pierce is his name. He’s a very good player.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, he sat through the whole service. He wanted to know when I was playing. He came and sat through the whole service. Denard said he’s still talking about it, you know.

Robert Stone:

Oh yeah, yeah. I need to get a hold of him, Dave Pierce.

Maurice Ted Beard:

He plays good too.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, very good player. You’ve been in his store, he’s got a lot of nice guitars.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah I was looking at some of those old guitars. Boy I wanted to get…

Robert Stone:

Yeah, real good store.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, real nice. Real nice.

Robert Stone:

Well the thing about the steel guitar, even the mainstream steel guitar is still sort of underground or different.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh yeah.

Robert Stone:

It’s not something… you just don’t walk in and find a steel guitar player hanging out somewhere, you know? For every steel player, there’s a thousand Spanish guitar players.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right, that’s true.

Robert Stone:

Or two thousand, I don’t know which.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Some people have tried it and say, “I just can’t get it.”

Robert Stone:

It takes a lot of work.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

It takes a lot of work. As you know, it’s very rewarding. There’s nothing like it.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh yeah, I love it. I love it.

Robert Stone:

And you’re still learning.

Maurice Ted Beard:

That’s it. Yeah, I’m no where. I get a lot of credit around the church but to me, I’m still a rookie. There’s just so much in that guitar to learn and to be opened up to.

Robert Stone:

Between the music and the technique, there’s a lot there. Now you played at this Gospel Steel Guitar Association?

Maurice Ted Beard:

No, I attended the seminar.

Robert Stone:

Okay, you just attended?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right.

Robert Stone:

You didn’t play?

Maurice Ted Beard:

No I didn’t play. But in the seminar, I think some of them seen that I could play. What was his name, was it Harold Zee, that did the seminar? They asked me to come back next year.

Robert Stone:

They going to put you on the program next year?

Maurice Ted Beard:

They told me to bring my group if I wanted to.

Robert Stone:

Wow.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

And when was that?

Maurice Ted Beard:

That was in April.

Robert Stone:

In April.

Maurice Ted Beard:

The same date that I sent you a…

Robert Stone:

Yeah, I’ve got it in my notes somewhere.

Maurice Ted Beard:

They’re thinking about staying there next year. And go right back to that same Best Western and have the seminar and a concert there. They’re thinking about running it three days next year.

Robert Stone:

That’s great.

Maurice Ted Beard:

You get there on a Friday and they have to run the seminar from about 12:00 to 4:00, three or four hours, you know. I want to attend that because I never… like from the lessons I had first, I never had lessons before. So I’m always interested. If you can teach me something, hey, I’m going to learn from you. I don’t have this thing where I’ve got it and can’t nobody help me.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, some people are… I know some of the guys are hung up and they’re secretive.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

They don’t want to show you and they’re ashamed that they might have to learn… that somebody could teach them something. But it’s not that way.

Maurice Ted Beard:

No, no, no. And for me to be leading coordinator of the music department of this church, it would be stupid for me to have that type of attitude when there’s so many young musicians coming up, need to learn and I want them to play the right way and they’d be afraid to ask me about how to do this or how you do this tune. And I won’t tell them? That’s crazy. The Lord would limit me I believe.

Robert Stone:

Right.

Maurice Ted Beard:

I’m at the top. It’s for me to share.

Robert Stone:

Right.

Maurice Ted Beard:

And I feel like if I share, the more God will give me to share with others.

Robert Stone:

That’s right. That’s right. To me, one of the things that’s very exciting about this whole tradition within this church and the Jewell Dominion is that there are so many young people that are really interested in this music.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh yeah, oh yeah. We’ve got them everywhere.

Robert Stone:

In the steel guitar. These teenagers and Antjuan Edwards down there. He can’t play enough. That guy’s playing hours every day, seven days a week. You see a guy like that, that’s really fascinating. It’s really encouraging.

Maurice Ted Beard:

We’ve got some really good boys coming up. Really good boys. They have went beyond what me and Calvin and Chuck and them do. Chuck used to be the fastest of us. He’s younger than the rest of us.

Robert Stone:

Right.

Maurice Ted Beard:

He come along. Now, man, these guys can… we trying to teach them it’s not how fast… this is not a gun fight at OK Corral. We trying to teach them first thing, learn how to play for the Lord. Keep this in mind. Not how well I’m doing and how great I am and this type of thing. We all here… like I was telling them, this is just another way we as a musician worship and praise God. He has give us this talent to do it. It isn’t nothing to be all proud and getting crazy about. Just be glad that he did give it to us. And not want to get into the competition there. But you know the young boys, they love that. They love to come in town trying to see who the fastest is, trying to shoot them down.

Robert Stone:

Yeah. Well a lot of musicians in general. It’s kind of a disease, isn’t it?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yes.

Robert Stone:

Yeah I was interviewing Willie Eason once and he said, “The music doesn’t come from me, it comes through me.” I agree with that.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, well that’s definitely with me because I didn’t have no techniques or anything. Basically I just stayed with the Lord and he showed me and it took years later for me to really understand my music and what I was doing.

Speaker 3:

Oh, sorry.

Maurice Ted Beard:

It took years later. I was doing things and God would give me tunes and I didn’t know what I was doing really. It took me a long time to finally get to the point where I started understanding some of the things I was doing. What keys I’m playing in, what I do when I do this, you know?

Robert Stone:

Yeah, you just did what came natural.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, it just came to me and I did it. But I had no understanding of what I was doing. And still I can’t read so I can’t identify what I’m doing now.

Robert Stone:

But you know something about theory.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

Chords.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

And you say you break out of that three chord thing sometimes?

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, yeah, sometimes I like a little freedom. My guitar player, you know… and it’s something I started doing because you can see a lot of them stick with the three chord thing. As long as you stay within the content of what we’re doing. I’ve taught my son to be free with his bass. He don’t have to just do boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, you know? Do, do, do, do, do, do, do, but just where you’re supposed to be, be there.

Robert Stone:

Right.

Maurice Ted Beard:

You know? Don’t goof that around. Just be where you’re supposed to be but if you don’t want to just boom, boom, boom, you know? Ba, ba, do, do, do, do, do, dun, dun, you know?

Robert Stone:

Right.

Maurice Ted Beard:

And I give him that freedom.

Robert Stone:

Right.

Maurice Ted Beard:

And I usually play where you can hear my lead man, you can hear what he’s doing pretty good. You can hear the bass player. You can hear him. I tried to show the lead instrument, the steel is the dominant instrument and he’s out there but I don’t try to dominate to the fact that my background don’t mean anything.

Robert Stone:

Right.

Maurice Ted Beard:

I love for them… because I want to hear them.

Robert Stone:

Right.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Because hearing them, they inspire me as to what I want to do.

Robert Stone:

Sure.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Matter of fact if I can’t hear, most of the time I’m like, “Turn up.” If I can’t hear the bass, “Come on, come on.” And I want them and I try to get a whole band because I want all of them coming through. I like that nice blend.

Robert Stone:

Yeah it does inspire you. Do you ever listen to yourself on tape and say, “Was that me?” Because I know when you get inspired playing, good things happen.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, right. Yeah that happens a lot. Especially, “Play that over again, I got to find out how to play that. I must have did that in the spirit. Now I have to go back and find out how I did it.” And then I’m real critical about myself. I could have did that better, you know?

Robert Stone:

Typical musician.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Yeah, I say, “Boy you need to start over again.” But I guess that’s the humbling effect it have on me, you know?

Robert Stone:

Right.

Maurice Ted Beard:

You ain’t nowhere near… I guess I’m my biggest critic. Just like this morning, I didn’t think things went well. People went, “Man, it went well.” To me, it just didn’t go well. Sound wasn’t there, certain things I look for wasn’t there. But it will come around. First day, it takes time to get the bugs out.

Robert Stone:

Right.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Hopefully…

Robert Stone:

Right, and just a word about the way we’re going to record, is mostly we just let the machine run. We watch our levels. We let it run. And because we multi track, we’re using eight track digital, if the levels aren’t quite right, we can fix that later. We’ll do a live mix. It’s a lot of freedom. I guess one thing that I’m trying to say is that if you can, pretend like we’re not even there.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Okay.

Robert Stone:

Because for one thing, we’re going to be back in this other room but there’s plenty of flexibility and I wouldn’t want you to think, “My back up musicians aren’t loud enough or something so it’s going to hurt the recording.” We’ll get it sounding better than what it sounds like out there.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh, that’s good. And you’ll be able… like me, I may think I’m drowning out there but I guess back here, you can straighten me right on out.

Robert Stone:

Yeah, we can straighten that out. We’ve got a close mic… what they call close mic. We’re going to put a mic right up on your amplifier. Right up by it. We’ve got eight tracks to work with. Actually, if we need to we can even combine two instruments into one track. Like put the bass and the drums on one track.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Right.

Robert Stone:

Or two tracks, mix them together. Any how, it will be good. We learned a lot on this first project. One thing I learned is that what people like to hear a lot is the praise music.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh yeah.

Robert Stone:

Really.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh you mean the other people?

Robert Stone:

Yeah.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Oh really?

Robert Stone:

Yeah. Hello, we’re still at it.

Speaker 3:

We need to go get robes.

Robert Stone:

Okay, we can wrap up. You’ve got to get a bunch of robes?

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Robert Stone:

Okay, we’ll wrap up in a minute or two.

Robert Stone:

Okay, we’re going to wrap up now and if we have time, we might do some later but we got a lot.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Okay.

Robert Stone:

Thanks a lot.

Maurice Ted Beard:

Thanks.

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