I need to preface this post by saying that my grandparents raised me from the time I was 6 months old.
My grandparents did not look like the musical types at all. My grandmother, a short, stocky Mexican woman, looked like she could punch out your lights. My grandfather, a broad-shouldered Mexican man, was very quiet and spoke in broken English. Without knowing them, I’m sure they looked like your typical elderly Mexican couple but they were enormous country music lovers.
The radio in our small kitchen was set to KFDI for as many years as I can remember and played throughout the day, every day. At night my grandmother would turn on her bedside transistor radio and fall asleep to country music. Hearing music, day in and day out, definitely planted a musical seed inside of me. But that was just the seed.
My grandparents also took me and my siblings to music festivals every year. From the age of, say, 6 until I was 15 I had already experienced the live shows of George Jones, Mel Tillis, Charlie Pride, Charlie Rich, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, The Oak Ridge Boys, Kris Kristofferson, and many others. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t standing in front of the stage listening to and watching these artists like a typical music fan would normally be doing at a concert. I was more than likely off in the grass kicking a ball or sitting far away from the stage with my grandparents, eating fresh slices of juicy watermelon—we always packed a cooler loaded with the best drinks and foods any kid could ever want.
I’m not sure if my grandparents took me and my siblings to the music festivals because they wanted to see the artists or they thought it was a good family activity to take a group of wild kids to, for wearing them out. I ponder this at times because I certainly never begged to go see Johnny Cash as a child. Today, looking back on those experiences … they’re priceless.
So from hearing music piped through the radio to experiencing music live, the seed inside of me grew, and I’m certain that that is why music is such an important element in my life today. I was exposed to live music on a continuous basis, and it seeped into my soul. Today I do not limit my music listening experiences to just country but it will always have a special place in my heart. I weave back and forth from country to every other genre of music that I love.
One band that I recently discovered that always stirs those precious childhood memories inside of me is The Avett Brothers. I’m not 100% sure why The Avett Brothers take me back to my childhood, considering their first full album Country Was was released in 2002, but I think it’s their song lyrics combined with the sounds of bluegrass, country, folk, honky tonk, rock and roll, and punk. They’re a mish mosh of some of my favorite genres, and if you ever get the chance to see them live I recommend that you buy your ticket and go! You will not be disappointed. Some of their songs—sincere and story-like—touch on faith, family, and goodness. Some of their songs remind me how thankful I am that I was raised by two selfless, adoring people. Two people who were able to pass on their love of music to me, in innocent, non intrusive ways.
This Avett Brothers song, Tear Down the House, definitely takes me back home.