By Dave Munsick
This past month I’ve had the chance to play what I play best — country. When I say country, I do mean country — as in the music that emanates from different people and places in our country. The beginning of the month saw me playing for Dan Scott’s memorial service.
A crowd of 600 folks gathered under the old cottonwoods at the Padlock headquarters to celebrate the life of a Sheridan County legend that day. As the first real feel of spring was pushing up green life, family and friends spoke words that reflected Dan’s life of flying, innovating, raising cattle and just plain having fun. My son, Ian, and I played that day for men of the land — fishermen, farmers, pilots and cowboys. We crooned, well into the evening, songs of the trail, the wind, the sage, and times coming and times gone while watching that old Bighorn sun fade out into the new spring night.
Several days later, we were asked to play at a birthday party. This was a crawdad boil/barn dance for one of our newly settled Louisiana friends. The crowd really seemed to jump in to our music and we had a little magic happening between the gumbo and the rice.
Once again, this was country music, played for people of this, and another, country.
A week later, I got to reconnect with a guy who I had the pleasure of playing with about 20 years back. Gary McMahan was a new name to me then, although I had heard several of his songs ( Dena Rose and The Double Diamond had gone on to sprout legs and be heard around the planet). Well, in short it was a great reunion. We reminisced about other gigs and times, and had a grand time yodeling and fiddling in to the night. He’s a piece of work and you owe it to yourself to check out this master storyteller and wordsmith.
Then, lastly, came the best gig. I was getting my bow and arrows to do some shooting at the end of a great Memorial Day weekend. Graduates had graduated, gardens had been gardened, mountains had been visited, animals had been appreciated, and rest (!) had been taken for about 15 minutes under a 58 degree sun that shifted against a 5 o’clock spruce tree sky. Note — music, as in playing and/or listening — had been ignored. Against this background, I overheard Ian hammering out a captivating lyrical melody on the back porch with our old gut string “songwriter” guitar.
The rise and fall of his voice immediately caught my ear and put me in mind of the mid 60s Beetles songs that made such an impact on the music industry. I stopped what I was doing and sat with him, suggesting chords, letting him know what was connecting with me and encouraging him to stay with it.
Something about the early evening sun lighting up my glass of pinot noir, the fresh north breeze giving me his new creation and the way I could see myself in this emerging song of my son made this the best sort of a gig that a picker can have.
May we all have one like this one at one time or another.