The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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January 5, 2013

WHITTEN: Making music this year

CLINTON — As I look back on the last year, one of the things that I love is the way music has touched my life.

I have always enjoyed music, but last year seemed to bring me to a new level.

In my new job, I have met dozens of local bands, and believe me when I tell you we have some very talented musicians in our area.

In September of last year, I went to the Tegeler benefit concert on Riverview Drive, and I met several musicians from Clinton and the surrounding area. This one day changed something inside me. I had no idea we had so many great bands right here. I came away from that day wanting to help, but I didn’t know how I would begin.

Then my friend Bill gave me a task — find six local bands for a fall festival he was heading up. Bill has been instrumental in helping me get to a new level in music. I made some phone calls, sent out a few messages, and soon we had a great line-up. The festival drew thousands of people, and I personally had a great time. More than that, I was fortunate to make many new friends. Here’s what I found out.

Musicians come from all walks of life, but the same things drive each one. Music inspires all of them, and playing music is the way they get their emotions out. Music is their therapy. Music is what they think about from the moment they wake each morning. Music heals them, and that is my common bond with them.

My new friends have raised me up with music, reaching down and helping me to a new level. One of the musicians I met was a guy named Charlie. He came to my home one day, and we played music for hours. When Charlie left, I looked around my house, and there were instruments leaning on every wall, scratch paper was on the table, with lyrics and music scribbled on each paper. The coffee cups were empty, and my heart was full of music. Charlie has raised me to another level, and I thank him for that.

I was fortunate enough to meet three musicians very early in the year, and although we have moved on, their knowledge and love for music touched my heart. So, to Jim, Richie and Steve, I say thank you.

Family bonds through music now and then, and I was fortunate to be brought into the fold of the Mussmann family, playing old time folk music with them as “The Wise Apple Riders.” My friend Chris is who I must thank for that. He has a great family, and is one of my very best friends. To Chris, Tim and Mark, I say thank you.

My friend Don Tegeler bailed me out of a real jam in September, and brought me to a new level of thinking, blending music with technology, and I thank him and his wife Marcia for that.

I met Danimal, Eric, Bones, Dennis, Rob and Jon in a garage along the river one day in the summer. They played ’70s rock and roll, and they showed me what a full band could do when they combined their skills. Thank you boys for letting me in.

My friend Jim Clark and his band came alive at the fall festival and won me over with the first score of music they ever played. I look forward to working with their band Coupe DeVille in the new year.

Don Jovi, Chris, Jimmy and Bob brought so much excitement with them as their band Creamery Road played. I never knew a band could affect a crowd like they do.

John and Jen Doyle came into my life in September, and along with Jesse, Derek and Jimmy, this band showed me what their band Johnny Outlaw could do with commitment, inspiration and drive. These guys have a passion for music that I never knew existed. They, like so many other local bands, work regular day jobs to make ends meet, but their lives are driven by their passion for music. John and Jen have become my dear friends, and I will always be drawn to them.

So, as I work with these musicians, I pinch myself, wondering if it’s all just a dream. I am living a life filled with music. God put these people in my life knowing I needed them to carry on. With all that has happened this year, I needed them. I needed music, and I needed friends, and still do.

Thank you all, and thank you, God.

Have a great new year, folks, and follow your passion — it will fill the voids and make you happy.

Bob Whitten is an award-winning columnist.

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