With so many of our local and regional artists devoted to performing and ‘saving’ the upper Midwest’s old-time traditional music leaving for better pastures, I have been asking myself, what do I wear to a funeral? Some funerals are very closed these days to family only, others are come one come all. I was thinking of wearing a necktie, and than I thought, is that a little too dress up? Well, for some I’m sure that would be the case. For me, it is a sign of ‘respect’ for the person now gone who will never share time with me again. He/She will never sing or play that good old timey rural country music again for me to listen to. Conversations and arguments sharing about how terrible politics is these days. A virus that doesn’t seem to want to go away no matter what we do. And the cold temperatures we are experiencing (-22 degrees below zero not many days ago). Gas going up by nearly twenty cents in such a short time? We’re still doing okay with food and such, and the ‘length’ of this strange virus thing is somewhat bothersome. All of this incredible knowledge we have today coming out of laboratories both in the medical field and the computer world, you’d think this ‘stuff’ would be taken care of by now. It’s bothersome isn’t it? And there doesn’t seem to be any ‘end’ to this tragic situation.
I’m still really proud of some of our early old-time players of the music that originally came into the upper Midwest, and pioneered here. There music is very special, and very different that the ‘folk’ music of other locations in America. The music that I and my wife Sheila have researched for so many years for the Smithsonian Institution. now rapidly disappearing....BUT....there’s that word ‘respect’ popping up again. Some of our players today, still keep some of those old songs on their ‘play list’ regardless if anyone asks to hear them. What is that? To me that is definitely a sign of ‘respect.’
I just recently had the pleasant experience of being on the ‘Tom & Bernie Zoom Show’ broadcast out of Miami, Fla. They wanted to know if the guy I wrote the song “Jack Darby” about, was still alive and could they get him on the show, if he was. I dug around until I found where he is, and indeed they did just that. It was a most pleasant and ‘respectful’ experience getting to see and visit with an old friend that I wrote a song about in 1981. Seeing him again, and his lovely daughter Spencer, was a real treat. It’s my observation that ‘respect’ is a big part of any long friendship, and that sure held true during the time we spent together on this Zoom show.
It also happens with our National Traditional Country Music Association membership. We’re a 501©3 non-profit since 1983. We work for it as volunteers. It does not provide us with any kind of job earnings. Still, even though we are kind of slow on the uptake now, we are still a functioning organization. One of the problems we have is notifying our membership that their dues are due. We’ve had to slash our postal services simply because of no income (none at all, our theater has been shut down since October of 2019...BUT...a ton of our strong supporters are sending in their 2021 dues, along with a little extra to help us out in the pinch. I have a name for this. It’s called ‘respect’ and I surely do wish some of the media today, some of the ‘loudest’ politicians, some of the bullies, would just back off and show a little ‘respect’ for those they continue to scream at. Wouldn’t that be nice. Just a little ‘respect’ would go a long long way.