Finding new passion in life with ‘The real thing and 10%’

Dale and Scott, “The real thing and 10%” get ready to take the stage.

While recuperating from a severe sickness at a nursing home, I had the chance to meet Scott, who would become a very good friend. Scott was an aide that worked the night shift. He was always very friendly and helpful when needed.

One evening I heard him entertaining the residents on guitar. He sounded pretty good and the audience was involved in his songs. He brought a tambourine on which a resident would play. While being a soloist on his guitar, his choice of songs mainly came out of the country style of the 1970s. His audience very much enjoyed it.

I was just learning to play the ukulele. I had played a classical guitar for many years, but my Parkinsons disease made me retire my six-strings.  I still wanted to play something, so I picked up a uke.  A friend convinced me that a tenor uke would be much more to my liking because it was larger and the strings were more manageable for my shaky hands.

One night I was in my room when Scott heard me trying to play. He encouraged me to play with him at his next performance. I enjoyed his playing even more and it made me realize how far I needed to improve.

By then we were becoming better friends. He divulged to me that he would like to play to larger crowds. I wanted to make sure. He expressed that was his desire. I immediately got on the phone, in the nursing home, and called a friend. In a couple of weeks, he would be playing before the main singer. The audience was expected to be almost 200.  He did a very good job. People would remember him.

That started us working together. He called me “my manager.”  I did line up a few gigs. He had a few places that he played. Eventually we became a band of two.  My shakiness was increasing so I thought I would play the harmonica. My tremors were beneficial. I told people that I like to play with a lot of “vibrato.”

It became evident that we could bounce our humor off each other, and the audience could pick up on it.

Besides playing in a pub, weekly we played at a couple of nursing homes in our area. After a few weeks the residents became part of our act. It was fun for all of us. More places wanted us for their entertainment.

We needed a name. I came up with something that would highlight the star of our group. “The real thing” best described Scott. I was a very minor part of the group and as the “manager,” I called myself “10%.”  We were “The real thing and 10%.”

One of our biggest venues was at an apple farm. They advertised us on their Facebook page and made signs to put on their tables in their center. Our exposure grew.

We knew that with the coming of winter Scott had plans of heading south.

Through our growing friendship, my musical skills had greatly improved, and he became more outgoing. People liked his loud clear voice and articulated vocals.

He became much more intermixed with the audience. I knew he would be great.

I always told him that he was one of the best in this area. Now that he was anticipating a move south, I told him that he was in the top 15% of the country. He just responded, “I thought you said 10%.” His humor was great.

Well, old buddy, wherever you travel, I know that people will pick up on your singing and hopefully some producer will cross your trail. I look forward to buying your first album, of course at a 10% discount.

Dale Kuzel grew up in Pine City and graduated from Pine City High School. He was a pharmacist for 48 years, and after retirement became a writer, and has published several books of his stories. He is a member of the Pine Writers Club.

Editor’s Note: We invite faith leaders, community members and thoughtful readers to share uplifting writing and ideas in “Inspirations.” For more information email editor@pinecitymn.com or call Mike at 320-629-6771.

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