This piano began life as a Lester Upright Grand Player piano. When Reg Phillips joined the CJGRJB, it was acquired from Dick Wiggin and totally rebuilt by E.J. Christian, an aged tuner who wouldn’t touch a job without having his Bible laying on the keyboard.
Some thought that this may have had something to do with the GJGRJB’s large repertoire of hymns. Perhaps, but with so many new players gathering to the band with Reggie’s Coming, it was decided upon to play songs that most everyone knew…like, “Just a Little While To Stay Here,” “Precious Lord Take My Hand,” “Just A Closer Walk With Thee,” etc. The band made tunes like these their trademark. Roasting these old chestnuts with ample supplies of draft beer, made the band very popular in Concord where booze and faith rarely clashes. Sidney Morton and Sandy worked tirelessly to make the piano sound and play just as Reggie liked. For instance, the felt of its hammers was carefully hardened with lacquer so the piano could be heard over the often over enthusiastic roar of the band. It took a while and a lot of complaining before Reg yielded to having all the action jumping bare-faced before him; gaily back-lit by a profusion of xmas tree lights.
But he got over it, and even confessed that watching the action actually added to his enthusiasm. Reg was not a big man but the span of his hand spanned ten ivories. Reg was a Giant among musicians. His alliance with the GJGRJB helped make it famous, well beyond the confines of Concord.
At a Concord Junction Golden Redemer Jazz Band reunion at Summer Street in Acton, Jean Kelly and Bill Batten visit with Ol' Yellar ~ still rockin' after all these years.