Music is all around us. It’s in our cars, on our phones, in waiting rooms, elevators, on television and radio, in church – well, you get the drift. I have just come home from a gig and I am very happy with the way it went. I didn’t forget my words or my guitar chords, and I didn’t suffer from “nerves” that threaten to demolish weeks of work in one short stutter. I performed a mix of folk and country music, some mine, some written by others. I love the stage and being in the limelight. It seems that I was born to sing. I am at my happiest sharing music with others. When I was small I played with my father. He put me on the picnic table at a family reunion and told me to sing a song for everyone. I didn’t know any better and certainly didn’t want to be a disappointment, so I complied. I loved the applause and attention I got afterward, so it wasn’t hard to say yes every time dad asked. I spent many happy years playing alongside my favorite musician – my dad. His music was plain and simple – guitar chords he had learned “by ear” in his teens and the country and gospel music he loved. It’s no wonder I write and perform country/folk/bluegrass to this day – I cut my teeth on it.
My first love in music are the songs I grew up on. Sometimes called “homegrown” or “old time” music, it is an eclectic mix. You will find strains of Mother Maybelle Carter and the Louvin Brothers along with Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline. One of my favorite things is to make a song my own by singing it stylistically. I have been told that I can make anything sound country and I am very happy about that. Some of my biggest influences growing up were Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and The Beatles. Add that to Kitty Wells and Merle Haggard, throw in some Bruce Springsteen and Lucinda Williams and you pretty much have me pegged. I love different kinds of music and I enjoy jamming with musicians of all types. There is a kindred spirit in us that crosses all boundaries and we play just for the pure joy of the music. I am very lucky to have had a dad who played and sang and a band teacher who believed in me. Music soothes my soul.
In Inzared’s time the music in the Appalachians was from Scotland and Ireland. Songs were brought over from Europe and handed down through generations. Barbara Allen and other ballads were sad, mournful tunes that lent themselves well to the plaintive wail of a fiddle or soft guitar strum. Later Bill Monroe would make his mark and build a new music known as “Bluegrass” – a mix of all these songs with his signature banjo picking.
Inzared grew up playing backup guitar and singing with her father as he played fiddle. When she left for the Gypsy circus she played around the fire with her newfound family, but the music was very different. Sad at times and upbeat and lively at others, it was the voice of a vagrant people and marked the lives they led. Full of eerie chords and tambourine and concertina, the music spoke to the heart. It has been symbolized forever with visions of swirling colorful skirts and couples performing intricate steps as they whirled around a blazing fire. Inzared found the music not that different from what she had learned on the front porch of the cabin in the North Carolina hills. It sucked her in just like the ballads she heard her mother singing in the field had done.
I think I understand. It’s the music. That’s all. Kindred spirits, chords and harmonies, a blazing campfire, good friends – how much better can it get?
Here is a link to a short interview by Mother Maybelle Carter and her daughters singing Wildwood Flower. I hope you’ll enjoy it.