Thursday, July 6, 2017

Music, Music, Everywhere (Mary Strand)

I’m SO happy to join YAOTL!  This month’s theme, Summer Lovin’, sent my mind instantly to live music.  I’m addicted to it all summer long.

I live in Minneapolis, which may make you think “COLD.”  But our summers are glorious, and I spend as much time as possible outdoors, listening to music or playing sports.

My love of music started early.  I remember singing the Beatles’ “Help!” at age four into a microphone consisting of the handle of our stand-up vacuum cleaner.  My mom played Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Hoagy Carmichael nonstop.  I worked for three years during college in a Wisconsin bar that hosted country-rock bands.  When I wasn’t there, I spent many nights dancing in a disco bar a block away.  (No judgment.)
 
 
I was a total groupie of a couple of local country-rock bands, so after I went halfway across the country for law school, I came home every chance I could to hear them.  According to my mom, WAY too often.

Next thing I knew, though, I was married and practicing law ... and I left live music behind.  Years went by.  I missed it, but it didn’t fit with my life.  Then, 10 years ago, when two of my sibs died within months of each other, I reassessed everything.  Among the many changes I made, live music came roaring back into my life.  Soon, my son started playing drums and my daughter piano.  I started playing guitar.  I caught as much live music as I could, too, but mostly by driving to Wisconsin to hear the musicians I’d known in college.

Then my guitar fell by the wayside.  Life.

A year ago, I revisited the YA books I’d started writing several years ago.  The Bennet Sisters series, based on a modern collision with Pride and Prejudice, has a music theme that grows with each book in the series.  (All four books are now out.)  I started thinking about guitar again.  A friend asked me to join a band.  I swallowed hard (after first emphatically telling her “NO!”), joined the band, and got my guitars restrung.
 


A new world opened.  I was playing in a band, yes, but I was also hanging out with people who play in bands ... and who listen to live music a LOT.  I started going to bars, nightclubs, and other live-music venues every chance I got.  Outdoor venues: even better!

I often walk to the Lake Harriet bandshell, which has live music most nights all summer.  I still drive to Wisconsin most weekends to hear the musicians I knew in college.  I follow the Belfast Cowboys wherever they play, much as I used to follow the Cadillac Cowboys during college.  I love standing in the “pit” at First Avenue, swaying to the music of Semisonic or Soul Asylum.  At the Dakota, I’ve swooned over Rodney Crowell, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, and Pure Prairie League while enjoying great martinis.  (Another love. heh heh.)  The Minnesota State Fair offers 12 days of vast amounts of live music at the end of the summer.  And now I’m a regular on Tuesday nights at a neighborhood bar, the Driftwood, where St. Dominic’s Trio (a subset of the Belfast Cowboys) plays weekly.  No one has yet filed a restraining order against me.  All good.


For me, summer lovin’ is the magic of live music.  Had me a blast!

18 comments:

  1. A fun post about you and the MN live music scene. Thanks for sharing and congrats on the awesome Bennet series!

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  2. I love your enthusiasm for living life to the fullest! Thanks for sharing your love of music, summer and the glimpse of your college years. :)

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    1. Thanks, Rose! Brat Kabin and Shenanigan's sometimes WERE my college years!

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  3. Great post Mary!
    Music is always fantastic. What's playing in your head today - since I now have the HELP! earworm!

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    1. Thanks, Nan! I've been focused on revisions all day, so NOTHING is currently playing in my head ... but I have a relatively new blues guitar book, and I'm about to practice, so I guess the *thought* of a tough song in that book is currently playing in my head!

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  4. Great post, Mary! I recently moved to a different neighborhood where there is a bar nearby that features live music--maybe I'll try to go more often....

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    1. Thanks, Lynn! I love this neighborhood bar, the Driftwood. Very cozy, great onion rings, and TV screens featuring sports so my husband has something to watch when he tags along!

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  5. Terrific post, Mary, and welcome! I love how music has sustained you through all parts of life, good and bad.

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    1. Thanks, Janet! I guess that's exactly it: music makes both good times and bad times better!

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  6. I'm so jealous! I've wanted to play guitar forever. I tried, but arthritic fingers make it too painful now. I adore live music and am looking forward to August, when a number of festivals are held in my area.

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  7. Thanks to sports, especially basketball, I've had two broken fingers, but luckily (for guitar) on my right hand. A finger on my left hand was badly jammed years ago and doesn't want to bend right to form the difficult chords. Guitar isn't easy for issues like ours! (And yours far more than mine.) Hugs on the arthritis pain!

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  8. This is awesome! I'm with you on being a music nut. I taught piano and guitar lessons while drafting my first few manuscripts. ;)

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    1. Oh, cool! I wish I were good enough to teach! I have a really fab guitar teacher and am even thinking of resuming piano again, but it's hard to fit everything in.

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  9. I too grew up singing the Beatles all day, and I still love music as a big part of my life. Writing and driving are the times music really inspires me. I can't wait to read your Bennet Sisters books.

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    1. Thanks, Maryanne! I had long drives today, back and forth to Wisconsin to catch my college friends' band, and I kept thinking how much I loved listening to CDs as I drove. Really blissful. By the way, the first Bennet Sisters book, Pride, Prejudice, and Push-Up Bras has been on sale for 99 cents for a couple of weeks, and still is right now, but it goes back up to $4.99 sometime tomorrow. Just mentioning the deal because I love deals!

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  10. Welcome to YAOTL, Mary! This is such a great post. Live music has been a huge part of my life. Much to my chagrin, I can't play an instrument. But I so admire people who do. Good for you! I wish you had posted a live clip of your band. Would love to hear you play!

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    1. Thanks, Jen! I have just one very short video of my band playing, but the friend who took it turned the camera 90 degrees partway through, so it looks like it was shot by a complete drunk. Or maybe she was. :-)

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