My Road to Creativity, 19: Durango

Being only sixty years old when I retired, I wasn’t about to spend the rest of my life on the golf course. I had tried golf and found it boring. My wife and I  both felt that we needed to do something productive with our lives and explore new places. We put the productive aspect of out lives on hold and spent the first year in Durango simply being professional tourists.

There were four possible things I wanted to do: build guitars, work at the really cool music store, work at the local bookstore, or in the natural grocery store. In the meantime, I used my lutherie skills to built three mandolins and around eight five string banjos. I also was hired at the music store which sold only acoustic instruments, as a repair and sales person. 

One of the owners was a luthier. He was great, very knowledgable, and he showed me a lot, building on what I gotten from school, all kinds of tricks and techniques as well as showing me how to work on the violin family. I found that sales was great fun and did my share of selling some fine instruments. 

Aside from loving working there, I also got to meet some of the locals as well as tourists. I was becoming more involved with community. There was a great music scene in Durango and I got to see some great shows. 

In the meantime, along with high country hiking, four wheeling, biking, and downhill skiing I had begun to read voraciously. My meditation practice had fallen by the wayside. I was way too busy . . . until I broke my leg in a skiing accident. Slowed down, I resumed my morning meditation.

With my leg healed and back to work, I became more inspired to work on my music and was able to join a newly formed Celtic band as a rhythm guitar player. Celtic music was much more demanding than the three chord bluegrass, folk, and old timey music I was used to. But it was fun. I worked on minor chord progressions so common in that genre of music. It was lively. The band was getting better. We were playing numerous gigs throughout the area and were well received. There was talk of cutting a CD. 

I was began buying old basket case violins off ebay or what I found in antique stores and restoring them and selling them on consignment through the music store. I was making a good profit on what I sold. So, envious of the fiddle players in our band, I started playing one that I had restored. It was challenging, no frets, learning scales, getting the right intonation to name a few. I started lessons and was quickly learning. I learned how to read music and self taught myself music theory. 

Life was good, until I blew out my right rotator cuff which slowed down my music as I couldn’t hold a fiddle or guitar. I finally had surgery which took the better part of a year to recover from. 

I went back back to my old band, but they had moved on and it wasn’t the same. So I retired again.

In recovery from the surgery, I picked up a mandolin which is the same as a fiddle, only with frets and requiring a pick to play it instead of a bow. The small mandolin was easy on my shoulder and much more forgiving than the violin and I was able to play all the tunes I had learned from the violin.

There was a Celtic jam at a local pub every Sunday which I went to a few times with the mandolin. The music was played fast and lively and I was light years away from keeping up. In talking to a whistle and flute player about trying to get up to speed, we decided to start a jam session, only slow it down for beginning players to be able to join in and learn. We were able to hold the jams in the music store where I was still working. We had a nice turnout and it was a fun time for everyone.

Life was good until the music store closed its doors where we held the jam. I had channeled my creative energy into the slow jam, but, after the store closed, it was difficult to find a steady venue and it slowly fizzled and died. 

My music interest died with the death of the jam. I still was restoring violins, but, with no one to play with anymore, my interest in playing was not the same.

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