Adele, Adam Levine, Jason Mraz, and Ingrid Michaelson are just a few of the musicians I’ve been listening to lately in an attempt to update myself on popular music, so I won’t seem so square to my granddaughters. Music is these very talented individuals’ livelihood. But there are other musicians out there who can’t make a living from their musical passion. They may be doctors or lawyers, teachers, grocery clerks, or housewives who play an instrument or two, some very well and some very poorly, and it matters not to them that they don’t sound like professional musicians. They just like how music makes them feel. They are like writers who have no choice but to write. Musicians have no choice but to play.
Last night my husband and I had a date night. We went to a little local pub for fish and chips and to listen to some amateur musicians play Irish music. It wasn’t a large group: two fiddles, an Autoharp, a banjo, and a man who played both the guitar and penny whistle. Every seat in the pub was filled for this weekly Wednesday night occurrence. Sometimes more musicians show up. They began with “Red-haired Boy,” a popular Irish tune, and then each musician took turns choosing a song and being the featured player. Some were beginners, and others were quite experienced. I understood their need to be there. I gave birth to three musicians.
I remember when one of our sons went to law school in Boston. We were still living in Texas at the time, and I was worried about how hard it would be for my son to adjust to a big northern city and the frigid weather, plus the difficulty of law school. He called a few weeks after he was settled, and I asked him how things were going. “Great!” he answered, excitement in his voice. Ah, he’s liking school, I thought. Then he continued, “We found a drummer!” He had not wasted any time in getting together with other musicians to play. Even when a musician cannot make a living from music, the passion never dies. I know. I may take my violin in to get repaired this weekend. You never know when that neighborhood pub may need an extra fiddle.
P.S. I was saddened to hear of Van Cliburn’s passing yesterday. My husband and I were privileged to have heard him perform at Trinity University in San Antonio. We remember that dynamic, passionate performance so clearly and his sense of humor. After numerous encores because we, the audience, kept clapping until he played another piece, he played a short waltz and said, laughing, “Go home!”
Wonderful post, would love to visit the Irish Pub! Jason Mraz lives in the San Diego area and before he really hit it big, he used to play in the dorms at San Diego State University. We have been fans of his for a while. DAF
My son-in-law is a big Jason Mraz fan, DAF.
Speaking as a musician who truly hopes his children pick up the vibe and never let music go in their lives, I loved this post! It is a most wonderful gift to be able to make music. 🙂
As a fellow musician, I know you understand, Ken. Even if I play for no one else but myself, I love playing. I love making music.
One of my brothers plays guitar. He always looks forward to getting together with other musicians, and takes his guitar along on trips. You’ll have to let me know when you get a gig!
Haha, Patti. Don’t hold your breath. I’m hoping my kids will pool their Monet and but me a bodhran for my 65th birthday. Then maybe I’ll play with that Irish group.
I hadn’t heard about Van Cliburn. Sorry. What a talent!
Can we count on a recital Saturday?
Let me think about that, Al. Um…no!
My sister is a day-care teacher who is passionate about her violin. I hope she can play every day once she retires.
That’s one good thing about retirement for us amateur musicians, NQO. It gives us more time to play. Unfortunately, in my case, it has not made me better!
Yes, I do believe it is important to know what our kids are listening too. In the same vein, I am sometimes surprised when my kids tell me about a ‘new’ song they found, and it turns out to be a remake of a song from my teen years.
My eldest daughter has become a fan of Johnny Cash (her father’s fav) and has found many of her young co-workers in Norway are also Cash fans – cross generation, cross cultural sharing at its best.
That’s a funny story, Margie. I think kids can be surprised that we can like the same things or that our generation came up with something they thought was “new.”
When I was a very young piano student, Van Cliburn won the Tchaichovsky prize and he became one of my heroes when my piano teacher told me about him. I was sad to hear of his death yesterday. Loved your post today.
Thanks, Maire. Van Cliburn was a quiet, humble man with an incredible talent. Even the Russians loved him.
I missed the news of his death. Sad news. He was from Kilgore, TX, less than an hour from the small TX town where we once lived. My grandmother gave me his biography, The Van Cliburn Legend.
I’m surprised you didn’t here about it, Georgette, living in Texas. He wasn’t that old, but I believe he had cancer.
What a fantastic post: I especially like your interest in discovering some newer contemporary artists. Despite what many people over age 40 say, there is TONS of good music being written and performed today.
Like your son, my oldest has been a musician almost from birth. He runs the audio/visual department at a Boston company by day but when asked “What’s your occupation?” replies “Musician:” his
heart lies in the night job ie., writing/recording/
singing in local bands. These types of hardworking hobbyists produce some of the BEST stuff you’ll never hear beyond the local scene.
I’m so glad you wrote on this topic and hope it encourages others to check out indie music where they live!.
That’s really cool about your son, SHBG. Both my Boston sons are a little too busy right now to play in a group somewhere, but I know someday they will go back to it. They played a gig or two somewhere in Cambridge a few years ago before things got too hectic.
How funny! I have two sons in Boston (Brookline, actually) My daughter is down here with me
My boys are in Somerville, SHBG. One works in Needham, and the other works at Harvard Med School near Fenway.
I was in Maine on a vacation/house hunting trip 10 years ago and wound up in Maine Medical Center facing quadruple by-pass surgery. My fears about being in a strange hospital with strange doctors were laid to rest when my cardiac surgeon walked into my room and on the lapel of his white coat was not a Caduceus, but rather a 14 carat gold french horn. Once I knew he had the hands and heart of a musician, I knew he was the right man for the job!
Wow, Carol! Great story! I didn’t know you had heart surgery. Bless your heart. Since my hubby had it, too, I know (from an onlooker’s point of view) how difficult that is. Good to hear from you.
When I was taking my daughter around looking at colleges, one of the schools wooed us with a performance of their acapella group. Well, I was blowed away at their talent which became obvious during my solo standing ovation. They were amazing to the point i was wondering what they were doing in school. I for one don’t need big names, I need talent and it usually can be found in the oddest places.
Have you ever seen the show “Sing Off,” LWTTD? I don’t know it they will have it again this spring because I haven’t seen any advertisements for it, but it is a competition for all acapella groups. I know what you mean. They can be amazing!
Your post reminded me: my gyn (who sadly retired a couple of years ago), recorded a c.d several years ago. Hubby and I bought an old juke box a few years ago, and one of my doctor’s songs was on the jukebox! When I went for my next visit to him, I told him about it, and he gave me the c.d. I didn’t know you played the fiddle….perhaps you need to upload a video…???
What a great story, Dianna! Yes, I own a violin. As for playing it so that people don’t go screaming from the room…that’s another story. But I love it anyway.
I’m gold that my dad played a mandolin (not his, but it was in his family). Sure wish I knew where that is these days; no one left in his family to ask…
I hope you are able to find that mandolin, Dianna. That would be such a treasure to have.
Do it. Sounds like great fun. You can call your son and tell him “I have this gig on Wednesday night…”
Hahaha! Wouldn’t I love that, Georgette!