Saturday, February 16, 2019

The First Music With Tom Perkins

My journal from November and December 1989 reveals how quickly and instantly I jumped into traditional music. Ten days passed from that first session to the party at Joanne's house, but activities after that happened almost daily for a couple weeks.
I attended my second Quail Hollow jam on Thursday, Nov. 16, and Annette asked me to play with the Tightly Wound String Band in Tallmadge that Sunday. The idea of performing in public with their band was exciting, and then she told me I would be paid too. I would have played for free at that stage.
The band comprised Annette, Joanne, Dennis, and Becky, but Becky was busy with a school function, thus my invitation. We played for a Longaberger Basket sales event in the Tallmadge town hall, a 19th-century Western Reserve building in the middle of the circle. The holiday season was approaching, and I enjoyed hot mulled cider during a break from performing.

Because I am equal parts musician and historian, I loved the setting. Northeast Ohio's wealth of traffic circles and New England architecture gives evidence of the Connecticut pioneers who settled the area after the Revolutionary War on land that was reserved for them in what was the West in the early 1800s.
Annette had met Dennis at a Cleveland-area contra dance a year or so earlier and discovered they lived fairly close to each other, he in Alliance and she near North Canton. She met Joanne at a music festival, and they discovered that they lived less than two miles from each other.
Music activities followed in quick succession. I played music at Annette's the evening of Nov. 20, and the next day she called me at work in Akron and asked me to join the group. I practiced for the first time as an official member of the band the next day.
Tom Perkins, the man with the mandolin, came to my house to play music that Friday. I lived in a room in my parents' basement, and we played Welsh and O'Carolan tunes while Annette operated my cassette recorder. I played violin and Tom's mandolin, a raw beginner in Celtic music and on mandolin, and my violin playing sounds awful, but I like the sound we created, with Tom playing a steel-string Taylor guitar in a classical style.
It was my first experience with a good mandolin, and it left me wanting one of my own. And little did I know that, although I had just joined the TWSB, another group lay in my future.

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