Ah, we are surrounded by green. It is warm. The land is making its big change and people are waking up. Families were happy to hunt eggs amongst the dogwood and redbud blossoms with the warm sun on your shoulders and the cool grass under your feet. It’s a fantastic time to adventure outdoors, unless, of course, you have allergies. If that’s the case, it’s hell on earth. So many people are blowing their red noses, coughing, carrying that drowsy look in their eyes that either means cold medicine or lack of sleep due to snot and sneezing. Fortunately, I had my 2 or 3 days of snottiness and sneezing, and I am now fully prepped to enjoy the Spring.
I’ve had a nice share of live music this week. On Friday night, Murray State hosted “Swing into Spring,” where an hour and a half of big band/swing era tunes were played in Lovett Auditorium. They set it up like a radio show from the 30s or 40s, and the audience was encouraged to applaud with signs. There was even a comedy duo who told corny jokes in between music. I’m a sucker for these sort of living history events. There’s something comforting and incredibly enjoyable to be able to imagine that I’ve been dropped in another time period, and I get to experience what it was like in this age I can only explore through books, pictures, video, and storytelling. I love the music of this era, in large part, because it tells me a lot about what it was like to be alive then. At some point in history, this wasn’t so much a novelty, it was the norm in the lucky cities who had a radio station or a group of musicians. This was how a lot of people enjoyed themselves. Knowing that makes me enjoy it even more. It’s like I’m sharing something with those people. If you want to know what it sounded like, you can click here thanks to WKMS.
The next night, I found myself at the historic Ryman Auditorium hearing a band who I’ve loved for many years and thought I might not hear for a long time, Nickel Creek. This show sold out after like 1.5 seconds, so I no plans of even attempting to score tickets. This is where having good friends can land you with fortune you don’t ask for and probably don’t deserve. My good friend Zach made joke on twitter about wanting tickets, and was answered by a friend in the movie production business (my boy Zach is in movies) that he had two tickets waiting at will-call. Zach asked me to go, and without much hesitation I accepted.
The Ryman started out as a church, and it was converted into a music venue. The most famous country acts of the Grand Ole Opry era performed on those stages, and this was back when there was not air conditioning and probably much less amplification. The Ryman has been upgraded, but you still have this very intimate feel. I’ve seen acts go unplugged there, and it’s magic. The crowds stomp at the Ryman and the floor shakes. Something feels so intimate and vulnerable there. It’s a special place to hear music, especially if the act is good. Nickel Creek is a trio of virtuosos: Sarah plays fiddle, Chris plays mandolin, and Sean plays guitar. They are all ridiculously good at their instrument, they have fantastic voices, and they all write songs. I started listening to them about the same time I picked up the mandolin, and they’ve always inspired me. They take traditional music and fuse it with stuff you can expect 20 and 30 somethings to be listening to. What’s more, they are about the same age as me, so I feel like we’ve grown up together.
While these guys played away and blew our minds with their talent and the beauty of their art, I thought about my generation and my group of friends. I look at how Nickel Creek has grown and become more comfortable in their skin, how they’ve taken all that talent and are producing something so many people connect to. I couldn’t help but think about how Zach and I both are pushing right now to use our talents to make some sort of art. We’re neither one as close as Sarah, Chis, and Sean are. We’ve got a ways to go before people gawk at our skills. But, I can feel myself growing as a writer and an artist. I can feel something inside me that’s adding layers to itself and knowing itself better. I don’t know if Zach or I either one will ever someday be sharing our art on a mass scale. But, I’m glad we’re both trying to make it. If nothing else, it’ll be mine.
I remember when I was in elementary school, during library time, I saw a friend of mine writing and I got curious. As it turned out, he was writing a book. From then on, I wanted to write something for myself. My first “novel,” was a gory tale of pirate ghosts on an island that killed every visitor in progressively gruesome ways. I’m still looking for a publisher for “The Curse of the Pirate Skull,” if you know anybody. Along the way, I’ve changed course, expanded, taken breaks, and found new inspiration. Now, I’m writing and putting myself out there trying to get poems in books. I’m also trying to get my stories on radio too. There are so many things I love to do, and my drive in life is to do them.
One of Nickel Creek’s new songs is called “21st of May,” referring to the date back in 2012 when the world was supposed to end (remember that?). It’s kind of tongue in cheek. You get the feeling the speaker in the song is being made fun of a bit, but then I think there’s also some affection for the speaker who predicts the world’s end.
When we think of the world’s end, we typically think of giant asteroids, nuclear annihilation, or skeletons on horses. But apocalypse, in its purest form means new beginning, and most of the time we don’t know when apocalypse are happening right away. We can only look back and know it was the beginning of something new. What will I think looking back on these days years from now? Maybe it’ll be the first steps towards sharing this stuff inside me with lots and lots of people. Whatever it is, I know I’ll look at it with happy thoughts. Remember, I love thinking about the past.