The Gunboat Boys set to kick off reading program

The Gunboat Boys set to kick off reading program

The Kinston-Lenoir County Public Library is hosting an adult summer reading program that will run from Sunday, June 2 through Aug. 5. The focus of the program is “Rediscovering the Civil War.”

Just a few of the many topics planned for this program include: “Sherman’s March in the Carolinas” (June 4); a discussion of The March by E.L. Doctorow, a fictional treatment of Sherman’s march (June 13); “Women of the Civil War” (June 18); a discussion of Kaye Gibbon’s novel On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon (June 27); and “North Carolina and Gettysburg” (July 9). I have listed just five of the nine programs set for adult summer reading.

On Aug. 5, a drawing will cap off the program. Participants can fill out and submit raffle tickets throughout the months of June and July for a chance to win one of the prize gift baskets. Raffle tickets can be submitted after completing activities and attending programs throughout the Adult Summer Reading Program.

Adult Summer Reading, the first of its kind at our local library, kicks off at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 2, with a concert of Civil War music performed by the CSS Neuse II’s own The Gunboat Boys.

At the heart of this group is Bob Gaddis — he says he has held too many jobs to list but is a well-known beekeeper. He also makes and repairs musical instruments. In 1978, Bob founded The Farm & Home Bluegrass Band.

“I played banjo, Paul Garvey was on mandolin, Tony King played guitar, and Dan Newman was on bass,” Bob said. “Tony went on to a music career in Nashville and now is an Opry staff musician. Dan is a social worker and plays jazz bass in Durham. Paul Garvey passed away several years ago. Farm & Home was the founding band of the Eastern N.C. Bluegrass Association in 1982.”

Many musicians have passed through the band since 1978, but Bob, who plays banjo and fiddle, is the constant.

Jim Gaddis, Bob’s older brother, has become another constant in the group. Jim plays mandolin and guitar. A veteran of the Air Force, Jim is now retired after a career that culminated as an information technology programmer and systems analyst.

Jim has been playing for 55 years. He picked up his first guitar while he was in high school; in college, he began playing the mandolin. His interest in music began as he was listening to old time music on WCKY radio from Covington, Kent. His favorite genres are bluegrass, acoustic folk in the vein of Ian and Sylvia and some 60s pop. 

Nathan Bingham of Chinquapin grew up in Texas. For 22 years, 9 months, 19 days, he served in the Marine Corps. He retired as a master sergeant and currently works as a senior training analyst for the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron at New River Air Station. Nathan is the lead guitar player, bluegrass style.

“I began playing the summer of 1972,” Nathan said. “I grew up in Texas and the summer heat was unbearable for working outside, so we finished work about 2 p.m. and headed home. Being a boy of 7, I became bored and wanted something to do. Music became my first love!”

Nathan said his parents both played music when they were younger, “before I came along — the last of four children.”

“My parents encouraged me to play the piano and then the guitar. My typical Sunday afternoon experience was to go with the family to visit my mother’s father. Granddad would play his fiddle with friends. They filled the afternoon with live music.”

Jeff Haddock plays the acoustic bass guitar. He is currently a Merchant Marine Captain. He also is a retired Pitt County Sheriff’s Office deputy and served as a Boatswain Mate in the Coast Guard.

He has been playing the bass for 48 years. He also plays “a little bit” on guitar, he said.

His family inspired his interest in music; his mom and dad played guitar and piano at the church. They also played music outside of church with family and friends. Jeff’s favorite types of music include gospel, bluegrass, folk, Celtic, old country and some country rock.

These four musicians comprise the current Farm & Home Bluegrass Band.

When I sit in with the group and we do chiefly Civil War period music, we go by The Gunboat Boys in honor of the CSS Neuse II. The Gunboat Boys were born when we started performing for Breakfast on the Boat. Like scrambled eggs and biscuits, the group is now a staple of the Breakfast experience.

As for me, I picked up my first guitar when I was 15; for the past 53 years, I have been trying to learn to play. My dad taught me my first chords — G, C and D. My granddad also played, mostly gospel. Like others in the group, my family inspired my early interest in music. I was reared on Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb and Hank Snow. Tennessee Ernie Ford blessed my little pea-pickin’ heart with his renditions of gospel songs and spirituals.

Circle 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 2 on your calendar. Seize the opportunity to hear these four talented performers — and receive a raffle ticket.

I will try not to mess up too badly.

Mike Parker is a columnist for Neuse News. You can reach him at mparker16@gmail.com.


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