Fiddler Notes: Butterflies

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Soooo…it’s been a bloody long time since anyone wrote anything more than “Pardon the dust” or “Here’s where we’re playing” on this thing, but we’re looking into this year, and the next year and we’re changing that.  Partially because there’s a need to talk to others.  Face to face is a welcome change to the last few years, but that doesn’t work when you’ve fans from all over the US and farther.  So we, as a band and as individuals will be chatting a chunk more here.  

Figuring out WHAT to write is a different matter entirely though.  We can all sit together with a round of pints and say ‘yeah! We need to get off our butts and write more on the website!’ Getting the gumption together to DO it is harder.  It makes you vulnerable.  Vulnerable by putting bits of yourself online for all to see forever…but that’s what we’re doing as musicians already, so this is no different, right?  Imma tell you though, notes on a page are easy.  Words?  They’re harder.

So, back to the question at hand: What to write?  Oddly, I ended up at a similar place to Brian, and figured that Julie Andrews had it right in Sound of Music…Let’s start at the beginning.

The beginning for me is a bit different from Brian’s though.  I started playing fiddle around the same time I started ‘proper’ school, about 6 years old. It started out after I started rabidly listening to my mom’s LP of Swan Lake.  I don’t remember what orchestra was on that record, but I loved it, and would dance around mimicking what I thought the ballet looked like, in my baby ballet shoes, since yeah I was in dance too.  Anyway, violin came into my life at around 6.  Mom rented the violins for me and my brother, tiny things at 1/12th and 1/16th size and we started. 

A bit of back story is also needed…and it’s not the comfortable kind.  My dad wasn’t the greatest.  I’m damned certain he wasn’t the worst, but he wouldn’t win any parenting awards, EVER.  I’ll leave it at that.  Mom was (and is) awesome and did her best, keeping us out of the house and busy at hobbies and activities, dance class, violin lessons, art, museums and zoos.  Anything to keep us both busy and off my dad’s radar.  The only time my brother or I pinged in a positive way was when we did something that made him look good.  Violin stuck, and dance slowly phased out through my school years. So in a huge way, music and violin saved me in my young life.

Que High School and all the social awkward that THAT experience is in the US.  I stuck with violin, and sometime in my freshman year I watched a behind the scenes look at the music of Schindler’s list, and found Itzak Perlman.  That man is made of music when he plays.  That moment I realized I wanted to be like that, to show people how music made me feel, and to help them feel it too.  I joined a  before school (I can hear you, YES it was early, but my father was awful on weekday mornings and I’d rather the music) music performance class called Strolling Strings, which taught me the tricks of memorizing music.  Not long after I found the Renaissance Festival, where that memorization skill got me an audition in 1994 for the 1995 season. Let me tell you people, Ren Faire is Home for me.  It’s where I started really figuring myself out outside of my dad’s influence and Mom trying desperately to keep me safe.

College though?  That was where I met another chunk of Family, and to this day if I hadn’t trudged my way down Forest St from my dorm on ASU to the Bandersnatch (Gods bless that hallowed ground) on the rumor that musikers playing at the seisiun got fed I would not be typing this today.

I mean MAJOR butterfly effect stuff. 

At that first seisiun I was NERVOUS.  I’d played out at Faire for about 3 years at that point, but with real Irish players?  But it was AWESOME. Everyone was supportive and chill, handing out music if there was some, or playing through tunes a couple extra times so you could pick it up. That’s where I met Paul, doing things to a bodhran that I didn’t think was possible and sung with such passion, Connor (Brian) who could weave a tale and hold his audience captive in song.  That’s where I started thinking ‘I really want to do THIS for the rest of my life’.

Life doesn’t go that way though.

I listened to people I thought wise, trying to get a degree that could ‘be a fall back’.  I thought I’d fallen in love, and got married, with the promise that we’d never stop with music and the things we loved.

He lied.

One by one the things I enjoyed doing, dreams I held faded.  Gaming,  both tabletop and video.  Reading. Writing.  Sewing.  Fiddle.  Relegated to “wastes of time” or idle dreams, unless they involved him, then it was just a hobby, nothing to get serious about, or get in the way of ‘family’.  I still took the fiddles out and played once in a while for my kids, but seldom in public, and only then to help out at their school.  That help though?  It breathed on an ember I thought long cold, and I started practicing more, ridicule be damned.  A bit later I saw on a group I was in on Facebook that a seisiun was happening near where we lived at the time, and I took a deep breath and insisted we go.  Our kids were older, we should be able to go for an hour or so without a lot of worry, right?  I knew I’d deal with fallout later, but I needed music and I wanted my kids to see what a seisiun was.

And there was Paul and Brian, and half a dozen other people that I missed desperately.  Let me tell you, when I’d been told years earlier that I had a choice between music and my children I thought that everyone would hate me.  I just ghosted.  I couldn’t face the confusion or hurt that I thought I’d caused.  They didn’t, and for that I am forever grateful.  The music was there.  I could still keep up, my hands hadn’t lost the notes.  Playing with Paul and Brian and everyone else just clicked, and it was bloody glorious.

Dear reader, if I had not gone to that seisiun, mostly on a whim and a prayer, I would not be writing this today.  Shortly thereafter Brian, Paul, and I started talking about starting a band, started playing regularly at a coffee shop and mused about rehearsals.  There I found the support to get myself and my kids into a better situation, and here we are, back at present.

 If I’d not asked Mom to learn how to play the pretty music on that record, I wouldn’t have met the Family that later saved my music and my life.  Butterfly effect. I guess this entire tale boils down to one thing.  Remember your dreams, even when life is at the darkest, that spark will find a way.  Let your own ‘music’ whatever that is, guide you.

1 thought on “Fiddler Notes: Butterflies

  1. Danette

    Love you much! So glad you found a way out and a way to your dreams again. I love being able to go to your gigs in the East Valley and watch you light up.


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