Tag Archives: Music

Monday Memories:) Tommy’s Back In Town

27 Nov

“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”

― Lucy Maud Montgomery

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Normally I have a montage Monday post, but today, when I was looking at my Facebook page, my friend Sherri posted a picture of a street musician sitting on a bench on the Square. I was so excited! It was my old friend Tommy.

I met Tommy a few years back while I was strolling the Square. He was playing his guitar on a bench outside of Snug, so I sat next to him and chatted when he took a break. I hadn’t seen him in a couple of years, and I started to worry that Tommy might have gone to the big music hall in the sky. He was a wandering minstrel that never put down roots or had a permanent job, just wandered around the country. I was so pleased to see that he was alive and well and back in McKinney. (Photo: Sherri Murphy)

Yay! Tommy’s back in town.

Here’s the story and poem I wrote a few years back when I first met Tommy.

Thought I’d share this story with all of you. )

TOMMY AND MABLE

Tommy sat on the cold metal bench outside a little coffee shop in downtown McKinney. His raspy muffled voice crooned a soft country song, while aged yet agile fingers strummed across the well worn strings of a blue acoustic guitar. Salt and pepper hair brushed across a ruddy bearded face as a crisp north wind kicked up. Tommy reached over to secure the two wrinkled dollar bills flapping inside the open guitar case. He carefully tucked the ends of the bills under the small stack of prized CDs bearing his image and that of Mable, his faithful companion of thirty-seven years.

Johnny Cash’s, “Ring of Fire,” soulfully echoed across the Square, and Tommy’s foot tapped along with each rhythmic beat. I dragged a wooden chair across the brick sidewalk, and then parked myself a couple feet away from the real-life Texas troubadour. I enjoyed each rendition of old familiar tunes, as well as the original compositions inspired by nearly forty years of life on the road.

“Tommy, would you mind telling me a little bit about yourself, ” I asked when he took his first cigarette break. “Where are you from?”

“I was born in McKinney, Texas. Haven’t been back here in over thirty years.” His tone and demeanor became a bit more serious when he described his early childhood.

“Yep, I was born right here in McKinney. My folks got killed when I was thirteen. They wanted to put me in foster care, so I took off and rode the rails. Never looked back. Been traveling ’round the country ever since.”

His eyes brightened and a little crooked smile appeared when he started talking about Mable. “We’ve been together for thirty-seven years now. I was rummaging around in a dumpster looking for cans one day, when I ran across this old black guitar with a broken neck. She was in bad shape, but I fixed her up with some glue and tightened up her strings.”

The adventures were mixed with making new friends and happy times, sprinkled with the hard hungry days.

“We’ve walked across all these forty-eight states, just playing music for folks and living off what they put in my guitar case.”

Tommy went on to describe the nomadic life of a traveling troubadour. “I’ve never run into anyone else who does this. It’s an honest livin’. I don’t beg. I just play my music and if folks like what they hear, they drop a dollar or two in my case. Sometimes I’d ride the rails from one town to the next or just walk ’till I couldn’t walk no more.”

I listened as he carefully crushed the tiny cigarette butt beneath his worn out walking shoe and tossed it in the trash can beside the bench. “I don’t stay in one town for more than a few days. Never had a wife or kids. Wouldn’t be right, with me movin’ round so much. Wouldn’t change a thing if I could.”

When I asked about Mable, he said she was named after his beloved grandmother. The old black acoustic guitar with hundreds of scrawled signatures from front to back, now sat in the window of Snug on the Square, just a few feet away. I asked if I could take a picture of him and Mable, so he walked over and took her out of the window. I could see the jagged repair on her neck and her strings were missing.

“Mable’s retired. When you retire a guitar, you take off the strings. Need ’em for the next one.” Then he pointed out the spot where Elvis had scribbled his name one rainy night in ’69 in Mobile, Alabama. But, he was just as proud of the signatures from a group of women that signed her after a Susan B. Koman walk a few years back.

“ I decided that it all began here, so it should end here. I’m leaving Mable with Sandra and these nice folks. I know they’ll take good care of her.”

Tommy mentioned that when he came back to McKinney after being gone for so long, he strolled along the unfamiliar streets and asked around at a few shops and restaurants downtown to see if he could set up somewhere and play his guitar. Sandra Nichols, owner of Snug on the Square, was the only one who welcomed him and treated him with respect. “That’s when I knew my Mable would have a good home and a good family right here. They’re going to keep her right there in the window.”

I was intrigued by the story of Tommy and old Mable, especially the long and loving relationship the two shared. So, of course, I was curious about the new acoustic.

“Tommy, what’s the name of your new guitar? I was sure it would be another interesting story.

He turned his whiskered face and answered, “Haven’t named her yet. She’s gotta earn it.”

After taking a few pictures and recording a couple segments of Tommy serenading and smiling at passers-by, I said farewell to the wandering minstrel from McKinney. I shook his talented weathered hand and dropped all the cash I had in the old black guitar case. Who knows when Tommy will be passing this way again?

Tommy and Mable

With silver hair and a crooked smile

Strumming tunes that make you want to sit awhile

As you tap your toes and start to sing along

He shares each word, and has lived each song

His guitar is closer than any family

And the road, the only home he’ll ever see

But he and Mable have a need to play

Her frame is worn and her strings won’t stay

They’ve seen the whole country from east to west

And the town they’re in, is the one that’s best

Mable’s been signed by many a star

Even Elvis scrawled his name on that old guitar

But the real country singer never settles down

‘Cause there’s another ballad and another town.

Toni Andrukaitis

Friday:) Friends, Fun Music, and (Yep) More Firemen)

10 Nov

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

~Plato

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Wow! Woke up to chilly weather, and had to bundle up to take Bella for a walk. Ok, I know youse guys (Chicago talk) up North got snow, but this is Texas, for goodness sakes. But, that doesn’t slow me down. I enjoyed the challenge. The vibrant fall colored leaves were scattered on the sidewalks as I walked.

I was looking forward to dinner and a concert with my Single Mingle friends tonight. But first, a stop at the fire station. I had a few brownies left and Miss Pat said I could take the leftover cookies from karaoke over to “my firemen.”

Our group met at Mellow Mushroom for dinner.

Then, over to MPAC for the concert Red, White and Big Band, featuring the McKinney Dance Band and the Swazzy Singers. They were honoring veterans with patriotic music and big band music of the different eras gone by.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GjiEO-Gowk

It was a fun day, and a great evening. Music always brightens my soul.

Sunday Sermon and Other Stuff

29 Oct

“Music is the great uniter. An incredible force. Something that people who differ on everything and anything else can have in common.”

― Sarah Dessen

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Such a gorgeous Sunday. The Ark building has been put on hold a while, the sun was out, and it was in the 80’s. A quick walk with the dog before church, and out the door about 8:20. A lot of happy smiling faces and hugs while greeting this morning.

Today’s Gospel was the story of Jesus leaving Jericho with His disciples and a crowd following Him. A blind beggar on the side of the road heard that Jesus was passing and cried and begged Jesus to have pity on him…

Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?”

The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.”

Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”

Immediately he received his sight

and followed him on the way.

Father had an interesting homily, saying that the beggar didn’t ask for wealth or food, but he just wanted to see and knew that if had the chance to ask Jesus, that he would be granted sight. Then, once his sight was given, the man did not go rejoicing and leave, he Followed Jesus on the way.

My take on it… if you have faith and are persistent, your prayers will be answered. But, once you have been granted your request, you must show your appreciation and continue “following” Him on the way.

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Now, for the other stuff. Last night, Miss Loretta invited me to join her at the Allen ISD Performing Arts Center to hear the U.S. Air Force Band and Singing Sergeants from Washington D.C. Oh my, they were amazing!

It was the last performance of the 2018 Fall tour of New Mexico and Texas. The highlight was that this was also the last performance of the conductor, Colonel Larry H. Lang, who will be retiring at the end of the year after a 29-year career of distinguished service. Colonel Lang’s former high school music teacher and mentor was in the audience, along with friends and family, to honor him.

The band played a series of “Fiesta” songs including Huapang, Malagueña, along with rousing Texas ballads.

https://youtu.be/NqGSo09r-VU

The Singing Sergeants performed a medley of Nifty Fifties songs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxLZofxO69E

At the end, the band saluted all the branches of the armed forces with song, asking all the veterans in the audience to stand as they honored them.

It was a wonderful concert and a wonderful tribute to all those who have served our country in the past and currently serve and protect.

Tuesday:) Talented McKinney Student Musicians

1 Aug

“Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, more talented than you know, and capable of more than you imagine.”

Roy T. Bennett

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Sunday afternoon, I attended the wonderful Summer Music Intensives Finale Concert at the Church Street Auditorium on the square. I like to think that I know what’s happening in McKinney, but I wasn’t aware of all the talented young musicians here in McKinney. My friend, Jerry Rizzi, is a local musician, and popular music teacher. He told me about the free concert while we were greeting before 9 o’clock Mass. He is so very proud of his young students and their talent.

The Summer Intensives concert is sponsored by The Arts and Music Guild, Odysseus North Texas Hammer Orchestra, McKinney Arts Commission, with special thanks to Annie Royer.

My good friends Annie Royer and Jerry Rizzi.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0IXWgmvjhA

Jason Lim, left, Artistic Director and Conductor, Odysseus North Texas Chamber Orchestra, and Director The Greater North Texas Youth Orchestra, and Summer Music Intensives.

Students warming up before the concert. There were several student conductors and a variety of musical renditions.

It was a wonderful concert and the auditorium was packed full, standing room only. I know, I was standing way in the back. We are very fortunate here in McKinney to have so many opportunities for young people to learn and express their talents.

Here’s a little bit more about the Summer Music Intensives.

https://www.odysseusorchestra.com/summer-music-intensives.html

Saturday:) Some Rockin’ Sounds at the Guitar Sanctuary

15 Jul

“Rock and Roll has no beginning and no end for it is the very pulse of life itself.”

~Larry Williams

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Yesterday, my friends Linda and Loretta joined me at the Guitar Sanctuary for an awesome concert. The opening group was, none other than, the Maylee Thomas Band with George Fuller at lead guitar. Seeing as they own the establishment, I guess they can open for whoever they want. They both have a huge following. Maylee for being an amazing singer and philanthropist, and George being an amazing guitarist, developer and just so happens to be mayor of McKinney. Who would ever think we’d have a rock and roll mayor? Pretty cool!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DG-71nvr-ik

Maylee, George, and the band performed for over an hour, and as usual, rocked the house.

The featured band was the South Austin Moonlighters.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q65U8uxA1Hw

The Band consist of Lonnie Trevino Jr – Bass & Vocals, Phil Hurley – Guitar & Vocals, Phil Bass – Drums & Vocals, and Chris Beall – Guitar & Vocals.

The Band mainly does Originals songs in their set and for the love of music, they throw in choice Covers that fans and newbie fans absolutely love.

The Bands origin manifested when Lonnie Trevino Jr had the idea of putting together a side group (where they could all “moonlight” on their steady gigs-thus the band’s name), just for the pure joy of playing music. Since then SAM have self-released three CD’s that have garnered “Highest Recommendations” from venue owners and national publications alike for SAM’s “Live At The Saxon Pub” released Nov. 2012, studio album debut “ Burn & Shine” released Feb. 2014, and the newest release, July 2016’s Ghost Of A Small Town.

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A fun evening with good friends and fine rock and roll.

Tuesday:) Tap Dancing Tunes With Your Toes

21 Mar

“MUsic gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

~ Plato

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A friend posted a video of the giant piano on Facebook recently, and people were tap dancing and making music with their feet. I thought it was so cute and clever. I’d like to try it someday. Heaven knows, I can’t play piano with my fingers. Maybe I’d do better with my feet. Looks like fun.

Saturday:) Some Special Happennings on the Square

8 Oct

“If I was any luckier, I’d be a little green leprechaun.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis

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Yesterday was a fun day. We had our birthday party for Miss Bonnie at Towne Creek, then afterwards, I met some friends at MPAC, McKinney Performing Arts Center. We attended the free concert with Maylee and the Mayor. When we arrived, there were free t-shirts at each seat promoting the voteyourmainstreet.org. We each received a raffle ticket for prizes provided by local merchants, restaurants, and services.


Well, to make a long story short, when they called 137, for the best prize of all, it was ME! Yay! It was called the Romance Package. A night at the romantic Grand Hotel, complete four course dinner for two at Rick’s Chop House, (the finest and my favorite restaurant in town) a bottle of champagne and a half dozen chocolate covered strawberries. Cool! My lucky day. My neighbors won the salsa/barbecue sauce basket and offered to trade. Nah!


It was a great concert. Maylee is an awesome singer and George Fuller, our own guitar slinging Mayor, was accompanied by John Christopher Davis. They all rocked the house. My ears are still ringing.

Mayor George Fuller and his wife, Maylee Thomas.


Maylee and John Christopher Davis.

The City of McKinney offers  so many fun events throughout the year. We live in a great town with some great people.