Just quietly, I’m relieved that the international tour was cancelled. I mean… Australia? Really? I’m 93 years old, for heaven’s sake. I’m all for not quitting until the big man in the sky calls time, but a trip to Melbourne from Memphis seems to be tempting fate, don’t you think? Sometimes I think my manager is a little too optimistic about my health.
That’s the way it goes, though, when you’ve been touring non-stop since the ‘60s. I’m thoroughly blessed to have had such a long career – especially in light of how poorly some folks take to seeing toe-picking in action. That just makes the opportunities I’ve been given all the sweeter. It hasn’t been easy – I’ve had just about every foot and ankle condition known to man. You try playing banjo with your feet 43 nights in a row and see if you don’t end up with Achilles tendinitis.
Over the years, I’ve become firm friends with my podiatrist, the one and only Jacoby Milford Jnr. These days, he is the only person I’ll see for foot care treatments. Near Cheltenham, where the 45th Annual Folk’n Feet Festival was to be held next year, there’s this up and coming young podiatrist specialised in working with toe players, and the festival organisers were trying to convince me I didn’t need to bring my own podiatrist. They almost had me convinced, too, which is another reason I’m relieved the festival has been cancelled. I may just have dodged a bullet there!
What I mean to say is simply that this lifestyle is not everyone, and certainly wouldn’t advise any young toe players to go down this path unless they’ve really got the passion for it. People see the concerts at Stonehenge and the glamorous photo shoots in Fancy Footwork magazine, but they don’t see all the blood, sweat and toe jam that goes into making it in this career. Take it from this old hand… or should I say old foot?