I’m famous. This may be as shocking for you to learn as it was for me. But recently I was assured that this is indeed the case. I was talking to one of my music students when she informed me that she is famous. “Wow! Cool!” I said, “How did you get famous?” “Well,” she replied; “You are famous and I am your student so that makes me famous.” “Awesome!” I thought. “I have enough fame to bring others along to the amazing world of stardom.” “So, how do you know I am famous?” I asked. “You have a CD.” was her simple and certain answer. I thought of all those CD’s sitting in my garage and then the CD’s who had found homes with family and friends and then onto those most magical of CD’s, the ones that had found homes with people who had no clear reason to buy our CD other than that they want to hear our music again. Could this be? Could I truly be famous? Hey! It’s all about the hype really. You get one person to believe it and maybe someone else will too and before you know it you are being played on public radio stations across the nation. So, I thought I might as well roll with it. If someone thinks it, it just might be true.
OK, that’s some scary reasoning. Last December I was at the Intermountain Acoustic Music Association’s First Annual Award Evening. I sat relaxed as the MC read the list of nominations for “Favorite Dulcimer Player”. I anticipated who might be nominated, including my husband, Peter. No surprises until suddenly the MC reads, “Mary Danzig”. Suddenly my heart is racing. Who knew? My bowed drone on a single set of notes must have really grabbed someone. How embarrassing. Someone thinks I can play. No such luck. My skill set on the dulcimer is limited to a drone. Oh, and I can tune it. This is not good. I feel panic overtake me. What if I accidently win? “That’s impossible” I tell myself. “There are actually people who play really well on this list. Yeah, but what if there was a freak computer malfunction and the tally came up with me and I have to go up in front of these people knowing I am a fraud? What if they need to kill time and they ask the ‘favorite dulcimer’ player to play something and all I can do is play a very long drawn out note? ” It feels like one of my crazy bad dreams where I suddenly remember I am performing with a symphony and I totally forgot to practice. The only advantage is that my clothes are staying on. It is amazing how many thoughts can race through my mind in about 10 seconds when I am horrified. The MC finally announces the winner “Sharon Mitchell.” “Thank goodness, Sharon deserves it. Maybe I better learn to play the dulcimer just in case that happens again.”
We are playing at the Celtic Festival in Evanston, WY in March. We are working on some new Celtic songs for the occasion. A couple weeks ago Peter thought of a great arrangement for mandolin and dulcimer so he asked me which instrument I want to learn. Recalling my recent nomination, I think “There is something special about that drone I play. It must really get to people. Maybe I should learn the dulcimer. I’ll probably be a prodigy.” Then again I did spend a little time playing the mandolin before my first daughter was born (she’s 12) and the tuning is the same as the fiddle. So maybe I better think of the poor audience who will listen in a couple months and go with what I know a little. As I work on the tune my oldest daughter, Eliza, wanders into the room, looks at me in surprise and says; “Mom, I didn’t know you play the mandolin!” I thought; “I don’t think this is exactly called playing at this point.” But, being happy to have impressed her, (which is not always the case these days) I roll with it. “Yeah, well I learned a little mandolin before you were born. I thought I would practice up.” “Cool.” she says with a look of respect in her eyes.
The next week I am at her school introducing myself to the choir class I am going to be teaching this trimester. I am telling them a little about my musical background when Eliza chimes in; “She plays the mandolin too.” Well, I do have one song that is recognizable now. This isn’t quite as bad as the dulcimer nomination.
So, back to being famous, I think I’ll accept my student’s assessment of my stature. Sure, there may be those who doubt, but hey, I do have a CD (lots and lots of them in fact). At least I have actually met the qualification set by my student for being famous. Now as I go through my day, volunteering at the school, washing dishes, folding laundry, there is a new spring in my step. I am famous. I am getting a look at famous person’s life up close. Sweet! Yesterday I went to the post office to mail off a bunch of our CD’s to Folk DJ’s. (Realizing I am famous did get me thinking that I should use the source of my fame to get some airplay.) The postal worker asked me; “Whatcha selling?” “Nothing,” I replied. “My husband and I are musicians. I’m sending our CD to radio stations.” “What’s the name of your group?” he asks. “Otter Creek” I say. “Never heard of ya.” Well, at least one person knows I’m famous.