Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's All in the Family--My Parent's Band

This is a piece I wrote for fun about my parents' band.  I hope you enjoy it!

The Piece:
Bluegrass music fills the air on this Wednesday afternoon in Rockland.  A private lobster bake is hosted by Sharp’s Point South, and music keeps the conversation lively.  The band is local and plays bluegrass music along with folk, country, and light rock and roll.  The band is Playin’ Possum.

The three members of Playin’ Possum are family and have been singing and picking together since last year.  However, David and Gigi Hynd, the founding members, started using the name Playin’ Possum in 2002 when the band played its first gig.  The band has gained and lost members since its inception, but David and Gigi have remained the group’s base. 

The band members are David, Gigi, and Peter Hynd.  Gigi and David are both 50 years old, and Peter, their son, is 14.  Gigi plays the upright bass, which stands taller than she, and David and Peter play the acoustic guitar.  Peter sometimes brings his electric guitar and alternates it with his acoustic guitar.  However, today he has decided to play his acoustic.

Peter’s young age has provided him with countless hours for practicing.  On average, Peter says he practices two hours a day.  He began playing the guitar when he was ten.  Inspiration to play the guitar came to Peter because his home was filled with music. 

“I wanted to learn music because my brother was playing the guitar,” said Peter, who was attracted to the guitar because of “the sound of it.”  Peter enjoys bluegrass music along with country, light rock that is “a little bluesy,” and singer-songwriters like Marc Cohn, John Meyer, and Eric Clapton.

Peter’s musical talent is a reflection of his parent’s musical pursuits.  David began playing the guitar when he was 16 on an S&H Greenstamps guitar, and Gigi began playing the bass in 1999.  David and Gigi both came from musical families. 

Explaining her musical background, Gigi says, “both my parents were music teachers at public schools.  Dad taught band the whole time I was growing up, and Mom started teaching when I was five.  She was also a piano teacher, and an organist at church.  I often woke up to Mom practicing.  It was very comforting.”

David’s father played the piano and was “always working at it,” and a few times his mother sang as a church soloist.  “Through just hearing music a lot you accept it as an important piece of life,” says David.

David and Gigi each discovered bluegrass music before becoming a couple.  Gigi said, “I’ve always been kind of intrigued by it.  I remember hearing bluegrass music when I was at summer camp in the Midwest, and it tickling my ear.” 

David’s attraction to bluegrass was the banjo.  “I heard Earl Scruggs as a kid and I was blown away by the banjo.  I just love the sound of the banjo.  The first songs I heard were ‘Streamline Cannonball,’ ‘Last Thing on My Mind,’ and ‘You Ain’t Going Nowhere,’ and I just loved them,” says David.

However, like most hobbies, daytime jobs are a necessity.  While David, Gigi, and Peter would love to play music full time, at this point “it is not realistic,” says David.  Raising children and paying college bills take up most of their time, and as Gigi admits, “we enjoy the level that we’re at.”

In the summer David and Gigi clam, and during the school year David works as a carpenter, and Gigi teaches language arts to 4th, 5th, and 6th graders at the Friendship Village School. 

The band does not perform to gain fame and fortune.  Through word of mouth Playin’ Possum spreads its name and is requested to play at local venues.  Gigi says, “We like doing community events and being a part of the community.  We enjoy the hometown stuff.  We’re not looking for glory.”

While glory may not be in David and Gigi’s minds, Peter’s career as a musician has just begun.  Peter hopes to become a professional guitarist.  He has already written the music and lyrics for at least 20 songs.  However, the practice can sometimes get tiring.  Peter says, “I know I can’t stop practicing because if I want to make a living at [playing the guitar], then I’ve got to be unusually good.”

Even with the challenges that present themselves to the band, the joy of playing out makes them all worthwhile.  “I like singing, and I love harmonizing,” says Gigi, “It’s fun to have the opportunity to return [my love for music] to someone and hope that they will enjoy [my music] too.”  David’s sentiments are in line with Gigi’s, and he adds, “We don’t have any great aspirations, but we hope that we’ve brought some joy.”

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