I have brought a series of fascinating people to campus over the past couple of weeks, starting off with a really fine poet named Gregory Orr. I had happened across one of his collections by pure chance (The Caged Owl) and after reading it was really moved. I was glad to discover that he teaches just up the road at UVa. As you would expect, hearing the poems read is an entirely different experience.

But most of the people I brought to campus have been musicians--old time banjo players and fiddlers. I have other people coming in this week.

But so far the most interesting of them all has been Wayne Willis. No surprise there.

(Wayne, of course, being the subject of the film Skye and I have been making for the past 5 or 6 years, maybe longer...)

I asked Wayne to come and play some music (he is a great dobro player in the traditional style) and I asked him to display some of his inventions. Some of them are incredible, like the Dispenz-a-Cig, which he built at his mother's request to dispense his dad's cigarettes in 15 minute increments.

Here is Wayne showing how the Dispenz-a Cig worked. It is quite a brilliant device:

Wayne has invented and built a huge array of instruments, including enough dobro style instruments for a full band--the lowbro (a bass) the banjo dobro (the name is escaping me) and my favorite, the Guitbro, which is a double necked and double sided instrument.

Here is Wayne playing with his son Jerry on the Lowbro and his brother, Brother Lloyd Willis (also called Slim) on the five string.

Here is Wayne holding his banjo-bro (I will find out the official name and report back):

Here is a portrait of Wayne playing the Guit-Bro:

And here we are after the talk playing it at the same time. This was harder than it looks since I have a good foot on Wayne.


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