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Play It Again, Jim – 1

April 15, 2015

There’s been a lot going on in the land of Blue Smoke.

Jimmy Carter soloJim Carter played the first notes on New Zealand’s first home-grown hit record. In October 1948 he coaxed the ethereal, slow-waltz introduction to ‘Blue Smoke’ out of his lap-steel guitar.

In 2015 Carter turned 96. Until his early 90s, he was playing lap-steel guitar every day, to keep his chops up and for his own amusement. He enjoys the luxury of watching famous steel-guitar virtuosos on YouTube, something unimaginable when he picked up the instrument nearly 80 years ago.

In February 2015 he was recruited for his first session in decades, perhaps even for over half a century. The request came not by phone but by email. Would he be prepared to play lap-steel guitar on a version of ‘Blue Smoke’ being recorded by Neil Finn? Carter was chuffed to be asked, but was reluctant. “I’ve given up the lap-steel,” he said. “My fingers no longer have the energy to press the strings down. So I’ve taken up the ukulele.”

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