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Chapter 4~ "Music, it's a passport."

Lessons with Kevin Burke

Kevin Burke

I was frequently truant in high school.  The punk rock movement was a big thing in Portland in the early 1980's and my friends and I used to want to run off from classes and head downtown to the Galleria where we could sit and drink espresso and smoke clove cigarettes until our heads exploded, all the while, trying to find people with Mohawks and purple hair.  It wasn't a common thing back then.  In March 1983, simply by happenstance, I ended up attending school one day to find of all things, a guest fiddle player putting on a little concert in our auditorium.  His name was Kevin Burke.  I hadn't played my fiddle in about 2 years after my exodus from the contest scene and I had very little direction at the time.  I hadn't actually ever really heard Irish music but I wondered, would this man teach?  So I asked him.  

At my first lesson I had only begun telling him my sob story about how nasty contests had put me off playing and to my relief he expressed no interest in requiring his students to compete.  He had such a refreshing attitude that the goal was to play music simply for the sheer joy of it, or because it was what people needed so they could dance!  The feeling I had from then on was like gettin' religion.  I was a total convert and wanted to play Irish music, and proudly never enter contests, and play for dancers, and perform as part of a life.  I never looked back. The sense of freedom away from comparing musicians and from judgment was like the first day of sun in spring time. I felt justified at that point.  Validated.  Kevin Burke let me know that it was a good idea to go to Ireland if I wanted to play Irish music.  That was my next plan....

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