Just like travel, sports, and my family, music has been a giant part of my life. I didn’t play any instruments growing up but music was everywhere. It was always on in our home when we were kids. Family road trips had their own soundtracks. My siblings and I were introduced to different musical styles and artists, from Glenn Miller to Jim Morrison. To say we all developed an appreciation for music is an understatement.
About twenty years ago, I discovered a new (to me) music genre, alt-country, when I fell head-over-heels in love with the band Son Volt. From there, I branched out to Americana, folk, and bluegrass. Inevitably, I began learning more about the places where the music originated, so of course I became determined to travel to those places. Not only did I want to explore the musical roots even more, but I wanted to be surrounded by the music.
So begins the story of how I developed an affinity for roots music. It’s coming into play now in my life as a mother, traveler, and blogger. It’s not uncommon to hear bluegrass or Mumford and Sons emanating from my home or my vehicle. Now my daughter is hooked, as well, so much so that she stated she wanted to learn to play the fiddle. I promptly enrolled her in violin lessons and she’s been studying the Suzuki method for two years now. She may want to continue with classical violin or she may stick with her original plan and switch to fiddle. Either way, she’s developing a musical ear and her own appreciation for the art. I’ve been known to travel for music and festivals, as recently as this past summer when The Working Dad and I attended the weekend Gentlemen of the Road Stopover in Waverly, Iowa. (It’s also where The Working Dad bought me a banjo, much to my surprise, because he knows I’ve wanted to learn to play. I’ve been taking lessons since.) My enthusiasm and passion for music now is bleeding over into my life as a blogger, for I will soon be on the road to Bristol, Tennessee – the birthplace of country music – to cover the annual Rhythm and Roots Reunion. I love it when my worlds collide! (Oh, and I’m bringing my banjo!)
While I’m down in Tennessee, I’m also going to have the chance to visit the WDVX radio studio in Knoxville. Back in 2003, when Americana and bluegrass songs weren’t heard on radio stations in Chicago and internet radio was not quite what it is today, I happened upon WDVX while driving through East Tennessee. I heard songs by some of my favorite alt-country artists and many more that were new to me. I was so sad when we lost WDVX as we traveled farther out of its listening area, but that sadness quickly turned to elation when I learned that I could listen to WDVX online at home! This was before smartphones and apps so I had to stay close to my PC in order to listen, but I didn’t mind. And now I’ve been given the opportunity to visit the WDVX studio and attend a live broadcast. I imagine I’m feeling as my daughter would if we told her we’d be going to Disney World.
In April of this year I attended a “Tennessee Sampler” media event, which showcased the state’s musical heritage. We viewed a short presentation, during which a message flashed across the screen that has stayed with me since: “You can’t download it. You can only experience it.” And in just over a week, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to experience roots music in one of the places where it began and evolved, along with so much more that East Tennessee has to offer. Be sure to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as I share moments from my own musical journey.