Saunders

The blues just got tougher

Staff WriterOctober 14, 2008 

Now that Mike Nifong has auctioned off his cherished guitars, the question everyone wants answered is, "How is he going to sing the blues without 'em?"

The former Durham district attorney will have to figure that out after the court-ordered bankruptcy sale Sunday that saw the three guitars bring in $5,100.

Two of them were bought separately by a couple of dudes who fled immediately after taking ownership.

So reticent about attention were they that some people -- OK, just I -- think they may have been friends of Nifong who bought them to return to him. If so, good; a man without an instrument to play is a sad sight.

Mike Rawlins, a Winston-Salem businessman who paid $2,000 for one guitar, gladly discussed his purchase.

"I figured it out yesterday" that they belonged to the infamous district attorney, he said Sunday. "I didn't care whose name was attached to them."

Smiling, he added, "I do now."

Rawlins, 55, is a former musician who started a band in junior high school in Columbus, Ohio, and is a genuine music buff. He wore a cap bearing the logo of the legendary Stax record label and was still giddy from a recent trip his wife and he took to the Stax museum in Memphis.

In short, there was no reason not to believe him when he said, "I didn't come here because of Mike Nifong. I came because I thought I could get a good deal on some good guitars."

When asked if he was going to play or display the instrument with the notorious provenance, he said, "I'm going to plug it into my amplifier just to say I played it, then I'm going to stick it on the Internet" and see what it brings.

Hmm. If some guy spent almost $4 million to buy O.J. Simpson's house just to raze it after he was acquitted of murder, I'm figuring someone would probably fork over a few grand to do something bad to a guitar linked to a case that, around here, was equally notorious.

The past couple of years have been, deserved or not, nightmarish for Nifong. Dude lost his job, his freedom -- remember, he spent a night in jail, longer than any of the Duke lacrosse defendants -- and now his guitars.

How much can a man take?

I'd like to dedicate this touching, sensitive song -- taken from the album "The Duke of Ughhh" -- to him. It is called "Play That Funky Music, Nifong."

Maestro, hit it:

Once I was a groovy DA

Sending bad guys off to jail.

I never had no problems

(You know I didn't)

Co-ver-ing up my own tail.

But then I made a mistake --

(I made a big one)

I went after a make-believe crime

And now I'm feeling sorry

(So sorry)

'Cause the butt that's in a sling now is mine.

Yeah they were dancing and singin' and movin' to the groovin'

And that's when it hit me

Somebody turned around and sued me

Play that funky music, Nifong.

Play that funky music now.

But since they took my guitars

All I want to know is HOW?..

When their lawyers got through with me

My bank account was feeling so low.

That's when I decided quickly to let these here three guitars go.

Now I'm no longer a groovy D.A.

Sending people off to jail.

Who'd have thought when this case started

It'd be me who had to post bail?

barry.saunders@newsobserver.com or 919-836-2811

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