Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bootheel Mood Swingers

What makes us want to create? My father won a songwriting award during his freshman year of college. He still has the trophy sitting on a shelf in his home-office. Throughout my childhood, I remember him playing “Little Red Riding Hood” and other tunes on his twelve-string guitar. My mother occasionally pounded on the piano, but that’s about all she did, musically. She took tole-painting classes one autumn (I was five, so I followed along), I remember because she kept the imaginary playground drawings I created, rather than the majority of her own farm animal oil-reproductions. My sister and I both play a bit of piano by ear, though neither of us pursued it enough to know any tunes by heart.

A year ago, my parents retired, within a couple months their boredom had led them to join a folk music band. They have gigs all over the southern Midwest (mostly Missouri, Kentucky and Arkansas). Their bread and butter is traditional mountain music (Appalachian/Ozark style) at festivals and such, though they have played in a couple concert halls. My parents play a myriad of instruments (dulcimer, guitar, dobro, fiddle, pennywhistle, mandolin, and autoharp) with a group of three or four other lap-dulcimer players. They call themselves the “Bootheel Mood Swingers”, because of their location (the bootheel of Missouri) and basically the band’s members include my father and four women in the throws of menopause.

I’ve commented before that the world is full of people that “become artists” upon retirement, rather than dedicating a life to the pursuit. Santa Fe, in particular, has more than its fair share. Granted, I’m selfishly glad that my folks chose to wait until retirement to start their musical interests – my childhood was full of the materialistic fantasies we all desire, because of their sacrifice.

My children, on the other-hand, occasionally go without; due to my own self-centered endeavors. Particularly, the constant moving comes to mind. Then again, I lived in the same town from kindergarten through graduation and that much stagnation just made me want to break-away and live this continuous vagabond existence in exploration of new lands and societies. So how much of my art is about self-sacrifice and how much is just the path to self-fulfillment? – DN

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