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in his book “Kentucky Country” (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1982, p. 110), Foster “played in an open tuning and experimented with sliding a knife up and down his strings to get a steel guitar effect.”

The segments featuring Chet Atkins are drawn from two sources: the syndicated television programs “Pop Goes the Country” and PBS’ “Austin City Limits.” In Atkins’ hands, Scott Joplin’s rag, “The Entertainer,” made famous by Marvin Hamlisch in the 1973 motion picture “The Sting,” is played softly and gently, totally unlike the sprightly piano version. Chet hunches lovingly over his guitar, watching his fingers work the strings as if they belonged to someone else. It’s a beautiful performance that emphasizes the sweetness of the melody as opposed to the walking ragtime rhythm inherent in the genre. The accompanist is Paul Yandell. (The viewer is asked to ignore Chet’s garishly wide- lapeled polka-dot shirt. This is, after all, the 1970s.)

Next comes a duet with one of Chet Atkins’ favorite pickin’ partners, the irrepressible Jerry Reed. The chemistry between these two Merle Travis disciples is delicious to watch: Atkins craning his head to watch Reed play and Reed laughing, joking, and mugging while picking with all five fingers. Theirs is clearly a symbiotic relationship. The normally taciturn Atkins is ignited by Reed’s exhortations to “do it, son!” and Reed seems to amaze himself with his furious, lightning-fast picking. The song is a Reed original, entitled “Jerry’s Breakdown,” which


Photo by David A. Wolfram

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