Friends connected by love of music

“Jordan, please give me a call at the store about guitar lessons.”

That was a message I received from Larry McDonald, who I had come to know through working at The Jackson County Banner. I had interviewed him a few times, and our paths had crossed several times throughout the years.

I had recently posted on my Facebook page back in 2012 that I was interested in offering guitar lessons to people as a way to make a little extra money. Larry saw it and contacted me.

I remember calling Larry back and he said he had several students in need of a teacher and that I was welcome to teach at This Old Guitar. I decided to take him up on it.

It was one of the worst and best decisions I made.

The worst part was I was not that great of a music teacher, struggling to help the three students I taught once a week.

The best part is it’s how I really got to know my good friend, Larry McDonald.

McDonald passed away Feb. 4 at the age of 68, something I’m having a hard time with and probably will for some time.

Larry and I still laughed just this summer about me being an instructor at the store. I only taught for a few months before I asked Larry to place them with other instructors.

Music brought us together and to get to know one another, but friendship is what kept us connected.

I’ve been lucky to work in downtown Seymour for the last six years. During that time, I’d take a break from work or a lunch break and walk down to This Old Guitar to visit Larry. Oftentimes, his son, Matt, would be there, too.

I honestly would hate to estimate how much money — or candy — I owe Larry, who generously gave me strings, picks or serviced my instruments throughout the years. It came to be quite a joke between us that he’d “put it on my tab” and that I would announce to the crowd at gigs that I was sponsored by This Old Guitar Music Store. I actually did say that during a lot of gigs.

During my early visits into the store, Larry and I mostly talked about music, instruments and gigs, but as we came to really know each other, we talked about music less often.

So many of our conversations had nothing to do with music at all and shifted to family, vacations, restaurants, life, sharing memories and more.

The most memorable visit I paid to Larry is kind of interesting because I don’t really remember the specifics of our conversation. I know that kind of sounds funny, but it’s true.

It was almost two years ago to the day I walked into This Old Guitar while on a break from The Tribune.

My grandmother who I was very close to had just died the night before, and I went to tell Larry, who I had given updates to throughout the week as her health declined.

Larry knew what to do. He pointed to the wall of guitars that lined his shop and gently nodded his head, motioning me to grab a guitar. I grabbed one and started to play around with it the way most guitar players do.

We sat and talked for about a half-hour, I’d say. It was just me and Larry in a dark, quiet music store. Like I said, I really cannot remember the specifics of our conversation, but all I know is that in that moment, my friend did what he was supposed to do. He listened, cared and made me feel so much better.

I felt a sense of relief when I left the store that day because Larry just helped me through a very difficult moment. I’m sad to say I never was able to tell him what that moment meant to me, but in some ways, I think he knew.

I am sure there are countless people who have had the same experience with their friendship. If Larry was in your corner, you knew it and you knew he’d give you nothing but 100%of his support.

Life and the music scene in Seymour and Jackson County will be difficult without Larry, but when you think about it, Larry will live on through the music in our community.

Larry McDonald gave what I think is the best give you can to someone: The ability to play music. He gave it so many people that we probably can’t even count them all.

I’ve always thought of Seymour as a music city, and we should all thank my friend, Larry, for doing such a huge part to keep it that way.