Here’s how it went down.
Back in 1999, I bought an old 1964 Gibson B-25 acoustic guitar from a tall Tennessean named Bucky Baxter.
I fell for Bucky and his playing when I would go see all of these Bob Dylan shows over the second half of the 1990s. Like, dozens of shows. Bucky played the mandolin, the pedal steel, the lap steel and guitar for Bob, and gave his live sound this very particular, slightly country sound. Rock ’n’ roll, with a hint of twang, a deep groove, snap and swing, zero pyro, nag champa in the air. A sound that rather quickly became the only sound I wanted to hear (or make).
Bucky left Bob’s band and sold some instruments to raise a little money as he prepped to open a studio in Whites Creek, TN.
I bought the guitar in eBay’s nascent days, and a week later it arrived at my workplace. I immediately loved it. The way it sounded, the way it looked, the way it smelled. Already, a complete and full story, full circle.
And then something unexpected happened. Which was that Bucky’s people called and said, “Wait, you said you’re a graphic designer, right?”
A week later I was sitting way too close to a firepit behind a cabin deep in the holler outside Nashville TN, watching, and sometimes playing in, one of Bucky’s incredible picking parties. The heat in my face; I was rubbing the smoke from my eyes, but it wasn’t going anywhere. Everything looked different.
You see, that guitar had a thread, and I pulled it.
Next thing I knew, the mother of my children and I went on our first date, the guys I was goofing around in a basement with for a year had finally scored our first gig (and wrote our first song), and I was spending a hell of a lot of time in Nashville, meeting people I’d never imagined I’d meet, and crossing the country working on tours with a couple of them. And then I quit my job.
That was just in the first couple weeks.
As it turns out, that guitar had some kind of magical dust on it, and as I shook it around, the phone rings and it’s John Prine, and even though it’s literally his 60th birthday, he wants to chat about album artwork and just how things are going in Fort Wayne on that very day, or I’d exhale backstage at Irving Plaza in New York City finishing a bottle of wine with Elton John, or I’d be playing in the support band for my favorite singer on the planet—from Sydney, Australia, no less—at a local club, or I form a new band and its very purpose seems to be to sound like Bob’s band when Bucky was in it, and kinda look like them, too, or one day I blink, and my kids are banging away on the guitar like it’s a drum.
On and on it goes. It’s been almost twenty years, and I’ve got a story a week like that.
Very specifically, these stories are experienced with—and made possible, made better by—the passionate and generous and inspired (and inspiring) colleagues I spend my days with, day after day after day. Coworkers, bandmates, friends. Family.
So, I always thought, if I ever had an agency, I would want it to sound less like an accounting firm, and more like a band. And so it was named One Lucky Guitar, Inc.
Is the guitar really lucky? Well, let’s be serious: we’re relentless and we’re fair. That’s the luck. But yes, the guitar opened my eyes, heat and smoke all around, and I never saw the same way again.
– Matt Kelley