There are days when I curse being a musician. I work long hours for a ridiculously small wage and often under crummy conditions. Think about the loudest, dirtiest, smokiest bar you have visited with your pals in the last 12 months. I have probably performed there, or at least some place exactly like it. In fact the word performed probably needs the qualifier of “tried to” before it, because like the fabled tree falling in the forest, if you are playing for an audience where no one is listening, are you really performing? I have performed during bar fights and public break ups straight out of a Hollywood movie. I have been knocked off stage by drunkards who then snatch up my microphone and start singing themselves. I have performed while patrons surf Internet porn with their computer screens facing all of us on stage. I have sung behind chicken wire and in front of turned on TVs bigger than my front door. All of this in the name of being a working musician.
Then, I have a day like today. Today was a day where I relish the fact that my job is music and that I love music. Today I played for old folks. Yup, you read right. I wasn’t the opening act for Indigo Girls at Wolf Trap (my number one folk fantasy!), or even headlining at the Black Cat in Washington D.C. Rounder Records didn’t call me and offer me a record deal that would make me a folk star where I could earn the big bucks like $40k a year. I played for old folks at the Staunton Senior Center.
I have been playing as a member of a folk duo at the Staunton Senior Center for the last 8-9 months. We try to get there every month, but sometimes we go as long as 6 weeks between gigs. The audience at the Senior Center is a varied group of women and a sprinkling of a few men who have lived a lot of years and have some wonderful experiences to share with us. They love live music and are open to original tunes that we write as well as some of the tried and true country & blues songs of their generations. They clap along in time and join us in singing when they know the words. They request Elvis and old-time tunes and everyone loves ‘Stand By Me’, one of the all-time great love songs in my opinion. Best of all, they listen.
I left today’s gig feeling buoyant and happy. Sharing music is why I play music. It brings me closer to my vision of what folk music is supposed to be about – where it came from and where I hope it goes back to. It is a great honor to play this type of show and I hope when I am one of the old folks, some middle-aged whipper-snapper will come along and play music for me.
A transplant from California, Abbey Linfert is a professional musician and songwriter. With a passion for acoustic music & harmonies, Ms. Linfert’s roots are in old-time country, folk and rock-n-roll. KUSP DJ Tom McCarter compares Abbey’s sound to that of singing great Emmylou Harris. Her songwriting style has been described as a melodic storyteller’s voice filled with the emotions of everyday living and honesty.
Abbey has toured both the east coast and west coasts of the United States, as well as performing in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and North Africa. With a thousand-plus shows under her belt and well over 100,000 miles on the “road’, Abbey is now a resident of Staunton, VA. You can catch Abbey performing locally as a Rusticator or with her 5-piece blues band, Mojo Cookie and The Dough Boys featuring Abbey, her husband Chris Amsler, Chris Wray, Jason Clarke and Buddy Thomas. For more information, visit www.isart.com.
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