“I Join the Folk Music Scene(Not!)”

Image by Tom Root

Everyone I knew was trying to learn to play the guitar or banjo. Somewhere there are probably lots of guitars and banjos gathering dust in attics from kids who learned playing was harder than it looked. I could tell right away that those strings were beyond me, so I opted for an autoharp. If you have never seen one, it is pictured above, complete with a long haired, blue eyed teenage girl who actually looks close to how I looked by the end of high school. And she has that pensive/angst look so common on every 17 year old, including me.

To play, you simply held the appropriate button down with one hand while you strummed with the other. The buttons produced various chords, similar to a guitar without you having to remember the fingering. Of course, you were supposed to learn which button produced which chord. I never mastered that skill, so my strumming had long breaks while I searched for the correct button. This made for a less than stellar musical performance.

In the end, it turned out I much preferred to listen to folk music than to play it. I had many opportunities, both at the Caffe Espresso and the Folk Singers while still in high school. I also began to collect folk music records, beginning with Joan Baez who deserves a post of her own. Meanwhile, I grew out my hair, bought black tights, and did my best to look the part of a folk singer. That would have to be enough.

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