Do you know the definition of a musician? Here’s my favorite version of a quote I’ve seen over the years and tweaked to suit my own feelings on the subject.
“A musician is someone who will load $5,000 worth of equipment into a $500 car and drive five hours to do a $50 gig.” To all my musician friends out there, this sounds about right, doesn’t it?
There is a tremendous history of music in this area, particularly what people think of as traditional Appalachian and bluegrass music. Numerous talented people who make their home locally could have performed professionally. Some do and others have dipped their toes into that pool a bit from time to time only to find they really didn’t care for the lifestyle.
One incredibly talented friend said once that playing music made for a great hobby, but he’d recommend ‘just keeping the day job’—a common joke among all types of entertainers.
My own extended family includes music on every side. No family reunion or gathering has ever been complete without a good ‘jam’ session. Some play instruments, everybody sings—some better than others, obviously. My mother claimed that I had heard “Angel Band” sung so many times that I could hum its tune before I could talk.
There are relatives who dance their music, who glide so lightly across the floor that their feet tap out a rhythm as sweet as any melodious instrument. My personal dancing style comes nowhere close to competing with other family members but I surely do enjoy trying.
So I guess it was inevitable that I would marry a musician. My husband is one of those people described in the earlier quote. He would rather play music than eat. Or sleep. Or even breathe, sometimes it seems. His passion has spanned decades of planning life around whatever music event is taking place with summer vacations spent at festivals and conventions.
Thus it should be no surprise that our boys grew up loving music, as well. That our oldest had a beautiful singing voice and our youngest even majored in music and drama in college.
The tradition has continued across generations. For my parents’ grandchildren, music has simply been part of life. If you asked any of them what they miss most regarding Christmas gatherings since the passing of their grandmother, they’d likely say the sing-alongs. And now several of the great-grandchildren are showing an interest and real talent as singers and musicians, too.
There are a limited number of fortunate and hard working people who have made their living as entertainers. However, for most people music is simply the source of great enjoyment and associated with fond memories.
Stored away with other keepsakes is my dad’s old reel-to-reel recorder. With it is a tape of my mother, her brother and his wife all singing along with my father as he played the guitar. The cousins and I recently joked in remembrance about how we would ‘tear the house down’ while our parents were otherwise occupied.
So this circles back to my earlier quote. Most musicians aren’t in it for the money. Obviously. The majority do it for the joy it brings to them. And, to others.