|Perry's wizardry has created much comment and so popular has he become with Howard customers that when he is not giving a solo number during the show they begin calling in no uncertain terms for their favorite. It takes stuff to get 'em that way.
You may be interested to know that while this magician of the frets reads music easily he rarely uses the score submitted for a number with the band. This is rather easy for this boy plays stuff that can't be written. He's that good. What he knows about the banjo and guitar he "picked up" himself, first being intrigued by the banjo while a member of Uncle Sam's navy.
When he was discharged from the sea unit in Charleston N.C., in 1922 he sat in with a local band and really got paid for the things he enjoyed most. Soon afterwards he joined in with Duke Wellborn's Footwarmers band and the organization drifted into Atlanta in the early part of 1923.
After playing around Atlanta for about a year Perry took a chair with the Virginia Entertainers in Cincinnati and bought an interest in the organization. It was while playing with this organization that he attracted the attention of Phil Spitalny, one of America's recognized leaders in the stage and dance orchestra field, and toured the Loew time with this celebrated outfit.
About a Year ago he returned to Atlanta because of illness in his family and became connected with the Cable Piano company in the musical instrument department with special attention to banjos and guitars. Naturally he began teaching and now has a thriving class of ambitious banpo and guitar students who hope some day to be as clever as their teacher. When Fredrick T. Bacon, recognized champion of the five-string banjo, was here recently he rated Perry as one of the nations's leading jazz banjoist; a rating thoroughly in keeping with the work of this splendid artist.
"What," we inquired of Mr Bechtel during a recent chat, "is the most essential feature in mastering the banjo and guitar?"
"Practice," was the expected reply. "When I am playing for an audience I know they are thinking how easy all that stuff looks. But they have no way of realizing the hours I have spent in mastering the number. If you haven'[t the time to practice, you can't expect to go very far."
As Perry was making this statement we began wondering just when he practices. In the mornings and until early afternoon he is busy with his pupils and customers as the Cable; He plays four shows a say with the Howard stage band; frequently he is on radio programs at WSB, and this week he has been making a whole flock of records for the Columbia Phonograph company.
He must have found a way of squeezing more than 24 hours into a day.
But that is neither here nor there. He has arrived at a point of excellence on his chosen instruments which amazes those who see him work. he first learned Banjo and later applied much of his technique on that instrument to the guitar-a feature tht makes ordinary guitar players look rather silly.
He is a true artist; he still enjoys playing and every now and then learns some new picking trick or combination of chords that provides a big kick. Despite flattering offers from many parts of the country he chooses to remain here. his family is here and, furthermore, he likes the town.