Glenwood’s musical blast from the past
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Over the years, music has certainly meant more than one thing to banjo and guitar player Alan Orcutt. Back in the 1960s and 70s, it was about carrying on in the tradition of his favorite folk singer, John Stewart. For the last two or three years, it’s been about playing alongside The Last Minute String Band, a homespun group of old-fashioned musicians. But this all means something else to him, too. A Parkinson’s sufferer for the last decade, Orcutt sees playing as an “antidote” to the disease.
Recently, he talked about his musical past, his “war with the bod,” and just how good it feels to be in such a true community of musicians. Every week, he’s practicing with a group of feisty players who “put their enthusiasm on the line” he said. He sounded so happy to be one of them.
What first drew you to music? “I had a very musical family. My father was into music, and he played in a Dixie Land band all his years and was a drummer in the military band. His sister, my aunt, married a guy by the name of Andre Kostelanetz, who became my instant uncle. I learned a lot from him.”
Kostelanetz was a Russian composer at the New York Philharmonic and a pioneer of easy listening music. Orcutt made a point to visit him whenever he could.
“I learned to love it ” all kinds of music.”
What keeps you in the Last Minute String Band? “I come to the String Band not only because of the kind of music they play, but because of the people.”
“They’re really exceptional. Don and April (Paine, the organizers) are a great combo. They provide a real spark. Our rehearsals start at 7:30. You’ll be lucky if we get out by 10:30. You walk out tired but having learned a great deal. This group, while not being professional, has a great possibility of being a great resource of old time music in the area.”
What does “old time” music mean to you? “At first, I was caught up in the uniqueness of it. At first glance, it’s pretty simple stuff, but the more you get into it, the simplicity plays a larger role. It’s very special music.”
“It’s like the best inventions come from the simplest ideas. The best music comes from the simplest melodies. Straight forward and repetitive, with a hard, driving beat. It catches on with a lot of people.”
Has playing in the band helped with Parkinson’s? “Yeah, absolutely. I have my days. It’s been really helpful for my hands and arms, getting my hands to do what I want them to do. I don’t like to draw attention to it, but I’m still not afraid of it. But everyone gives me a hand when I need it.”
Do you have any future vision for yourself as a musician? “Yeah, I think my goal is to be able to play well enough to entertain myself, let alone anybody else that might be standing nearby.”
“Learn something new every week ” I really do.”
What’s the most important thing in your life? “Wow (laughing), wow. The most important thing? I couldn’t say it was just one thing. The String Band is very important to me, because it gives me inspiration and gives me a handful of music to listen to and learn from. There’s a whole other story. I took an early retirement, and I’m writing a book about the Vietnam war. Poetry and prose.”
“I guess you could call me a part-time musician and writer. They teach me enough lessons to keep me busy for a while.”
Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111
Post Independent Glenwood Springs CO Colorado
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