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Chapter 1~ "There was abuse in my family...mostly of a music nature..." from the film, A Mighty Wind

National Old-Time Fiddle Contest, Weiser Idaho circa 1979

...not really, my dad was actually a saint (my opinion), but I loved the Cohen Brothers film, A Mighty Wind, and thought that line from it was a hilarious way to start any story about kids whose parents decide they're going to have them play music.  If you haven't seen the movie, check it out.


At a very oung age my father seemed to believe that I asked him for a fiddle.  I vehemently deny this and always maintained that I wanted a guitar and to learn how to sing.  I have no memory of ever asking for a fiddle.  Alas, my dad had a different perception and insisted on taking me to downtown Portland at the age of 7 and buying me a violin.  I went through a series of teachers and found the entire experience quite unpleasant.  It was hard work, it seemed like I never sounded good, and because most of my teachers played gigs they didn't want to give up their weekends so my lessons were often on weeknights leaving me tired for school the next day  I also resented the fact that I had to cut my fingernails short.  Around this time, my dad hosted two programs on KBOO radio in Portland.  One he called "The Joy of Fiddling," the other, "The Cajun Hour."  Every pay day he budgeted to go to a store in downtown Portland called, "The Crystal Ship," and buy vinyl records, so our house was full of wonderful music all the time.  There was never really silence from what I recall.  Eventually I became more intereted in music just from listening.  Any Old-Time String Band, The Red Clay Ramblers, Odetta, Buffy Saint Marie, The Weavers, Woody Guthrie and Vassar Clements were just a few names that converted me from always wanting to listen to pop music on the radio.  These sounds made me wish I could play fiddle better.  But who was going to show me how...

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