Unexpected Pleasures

One of the challenges of living in a small town can sometimes seem to be the lack of culture. There’s actually more to do than you might realize, and sometimes it’s just that you can’t find the time to do it. Life can keep you busy, but getting out to enjoy some culture when it comes around is vital to recharging those batteries. This spring we’ve had a couple of nice surprises in the form of live music.

The first came when Jim Brock invited Aidan to come play a song with his band, The Echoes, at the dance they play every 1st and 3rd Saturday nights. Though it was a busy Easter weekend, we knew we wouldn’t have another opportunity to do it anytime soon — Aidan’s soccer schedule aligned with the next several weekends, so he would be out of town. So we drug ourselves down to the dance a the senior center and had a blast. The music was old-time country. The people were more than friendly. Had we known, we might have even brought some food for the potluck at intermission. It turned out we’d met one of the dancers at a rest stop in Oklahoma a couple years back — the Mississippi plates with Lowndes County got their attention then — and all of us got on the dance floor. I’m not well versed in the two-step, so I was the most reluctant (and line dancing is not up my alley, so I didn’t even try to go their). I don’t think I broke anyone’s toes, but I might need to practice before we decide to go back, which I’m sure we will. Aidan played Faded Love with the band (on Mr. Brock’s fiddle). It was a lot of fun.

An even bigger surprise came when we learned that Tish Hinojosa was coming to town. I’ve known about Tish since my days at UT Austin, and have always enjoyed her music. The chance to see her live in a solo show it Columbus was just too good to pass up — and the ticket price couldn’t be beat — even though the concert was on a Wednesday night in a week when all kinds of grading and final reviews are coming due, not to mention committee meetings, awards days, a Suzuki performance, and coming on the heels of a long soccer weekend for Aidan and Kim. We almost didn’t get it together to get our tickets and drag our behinds out of the house, but we did, and we certainly enjoyed it. Tish is still singing in top form, though it’s been at least fifteen years since I last heard her live. The Arts Council space is so intimate, we were in the last row and still only a few feet from the stage. We bought a CD and had it autographed. It felt like having the artist in your living room. It is the kind of thing that doesn’t happen often in small town Mississippi, so we knew we had to take advantage of it no matter how tired we might be the rest of the week. And it was definitely the right choice.

Tish is traveling on a long driving tour of the US (her home these days in Hamburg, Germany), and will be playing lots of small venues along the way it seems. Check her website for the  tour dates. Make time to go out and see her, if she’s coming anywhere near you. Or if you can’t do that, find another live music venue, even one as unassuming as the local senior center if there’s a dance, and take a break from your daily routine. You’ll be glad you did.

Published by Kendall Dunkelberg

I am a poet, translator, and professor of literature and creative writing at Mississippi University for Women, where I direct the Low-Res MFA in Creative Writing, the undergraduate concentration in creative writing, and the Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium. I have published three books of poetry, Barrier Island Suite, Time Capsules, and Landscapes and Architectures, as well as a collection of translations of the Belgian poet Paul Snoek, Hercules, Richelieu, and Nostradamus. I live in Columbus with my wife, Kim Whitehead; son, Aidan; and dog, Aleida.

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