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Thursday, February 20, 2014
Even though an ice storm had just devastated Aiken County, the show went on at the Southern Steel Guitar Convention over the weekend. The Belvedere Jaycee Building, where the event was held, had electricity, so there was no reason to cancel, said Jerry Reece, the convention’s co-organizer.
A series of performances by pedal steel guitar players on Sunday followed a jam session on Saturday night. The headliner was Buck Reid, who has played with Lyle Lovett and His Large Band for 20 years.
“That’s a long time in this business,” Reid said.
Originally from New York, Reid lives in Tennessee. He toured and recorded with country music artist John Anderson for eight years. Reid also has worked with Keith Urban and LeAnn Rimes.
Through Lovett, Reid met Julia Roberts, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2001. Lovett married Roberts in June 1993. They divorced less than two years later, in March 1995.
“They (Lovett and Roberts) invited me to the wedding and the whole shooting match,” Reid said. “She was genuine, sweet and down to earth. She was a really nice person to be around. That wasn’t a chapter that lasted very long, but for whatever it’s worth, I can say that I met her.”
Most often heard in country music, the pedal steel guitar is a box-shaped musical instrument. It has strings that are plucked while being pressed by a movable steel bar. Foot pedals change the pitch of the strings.
“It’s a unique instrument,” said Kenny Martin, who lives in the community of Ballentine, which is near Chapin. “You use both knees, both feet and both hands, and you have to think about what you’re playing at the same time.”
Martin has performed with The Marshall Tucker Band, a rock/country rock group that originally was from Spartanburg.
“There are certain shows they want me to do,” Martin said. “I’ve gotten to play in the Grand Ole Opry shows two or three times. I’ve played at Ryman Auditorium (the most famous former home of the Grand Ole Opry).”
The Southern Steel Guitar Convention is held four times a year in February, May, August and November. Reece teams with Joe Turner to organize the shows.
Reece’s later father, Charles Reece, and Buddy Walker were the first organizers of the convention, which started in 1987.
Late on Sunday morning, Jerry Reece said the attendance at the latest convention was a little down, perhaps because of the recent bad weather. But he expected the audience to grow after church services ended.
“That’s when we get our biggest crowd,” Reece said.
Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since January 2013. A native of Concord, N.C., she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.