Your Favorite Live Shows
Noah Levy, the editor of The Riff, posted a writing challenge about your favorite live show. My favorite live shows have always been local indie musicians. I love attending local talent contests and concerts in the park.
My first memory of a live music show was the Hootenanny in Heber Springs, Arkansas. Attending the Hootenanny, aka concerts in the park, on Saturday nights was one of the few times I felt like a normal kid instead of being sad and shy.
I was so curious about everything, from the talent on stage to what was happening backstage. I made up an excuse of needing to use the restroom so I could sneak backstage to watch rehearsals and set changes.
I would light up when the musicians started to sing and play their instruments. The Hootenanny is where I fell in love with music and started dreaming of being a singer. I think I was 12 at the time. That would have been 1975.
My parents were friends with one of the bluegrass bands and told them I liked to sing Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, and Patsy Cline songs. The band leader asked me to sing a song for them. I think I sang, Walkin’ After Midnight, which is still one of my favorite songs.
He said I had a good voice and asked if I wanted to join their band. I would have to come to his house once or twice a week to practice, plus go to the park early on Saturdays. I was so excited. I thought I could be the next Tanya Tucker, who got her start young.
Of course, my very controlling and abusive stepfather said no. I was heartbroken and wished I could run away with the band. Instead, I kept dreaming. I sang to myself, to my classmates at recess, and to my brothers.
I still loved going to the Hootenanny and listen to the local bands play all night. It was the highlight of my childhood.
When I grew up and had children of my own, I sang to them. My daughter sang those same songs to her children. The dream lives on!
I also went through a karaoke phase and entered a few local music talent shows, but it never led anywhere. I just had fun singing and making memories with my family.
I eventually turned my dream of singing into writing, which is a better fit for my quiet personality. I prefer being behind the scenes instead of the center of attention.
I haven’t lived in Arkansas since I was a kid, but I live within walking distance to a place with concerts in the park!
Along with the rest of the world, local music venues shut down last year. We are all going through live music withdrawals and hoping to get back on track this summer. Masks on and fingers crossed.