Friday Free-For-All! #2

Hi, everyone. I hope you’ve had a good week and looking forward to the weekend. It’s time for another Free-For-All!

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I’ve been thinking about things that have influenced me throughout life, and the list is long. Of course, my parents influenced me, as did school. But the one single biggest influence that goes as far back as I can remember is Music!

Growing up in a holy-roller, free-holiness church, music was a big part of every worship service. The piano, guitars, tambourines, accordions, and even a trumpet would stir my soul ten times more than whatever message the preacher brought. Because I could FEEL it.

The strict religion forbade listening to “worldly” music, but I was allowed to attend gospel music concerts. The Stamps Quartet, Blackwood Brothers, and The Happy Goodman Family are some of the most memorable. And, oh my, they could sing. Their harmonies blended like finely tuned instruments. Again, it stirred something deep and primal in me.

Then, as a teenager, I got a transistor radio one year for Christmas. It came with earbuds. Mine looked exactly like this.

Courtesy Canva Photos

The entire world opened up to me! I could get KOMA out of Oklahoma City and Wolfman Jack on XERF out of Del Rio, Texas. And I fell in love!

I fell in love with Aretha Franklin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Odis Redding, and all the greats who were creating fabulous music in the sixties. I would imagine myself standing on the hood of a car, singing “Venus” or Helen Reddy’s “Angie Baby.” Then the kids at school would accept me, and I’d finally be a part of something. Yes, I know. It was the crazy imagination and dreaming of a lonely teenager. But some part of me saw music as my window to the world.

I begged Mom and Dad for a piano. We were poor, and I know it was selfish of me, as it would be near to impossible for them, but they managed to find one somewhere and brought it home. I loved to pound away on it. They couldn’t afford lessons, so I’d pick out songs by ear. Then, several summers in a row, The Stamps School of Music came to Hobbs and offered free classes. So, my sister and I were allowed to go. I learned to read the notes but never got it down to the point I could look at a piece of music and know instantly what the notes were. I’d have to count the lines and spaces. πŸ™‚

So, time went on, and I turned eighteen. I could legally leave home. I was chomping at the bit to get out and experience the world, to try all of the things that had been forbidden by the church and my parents. And experiencing live music was at the top of that list.

I was too young to get into the nightclubs, but one club in Abilene (where I had moved) had lost their liquor license for serving alcohol to minors, and they had live music on the weekends. That became my second home. And it was where I met Rick Sikes.

I often question myself as to whether or not I would have been as attracted to him if he hadn’t been a regional singing star. Who knows, and it doesn’t matter. He was, and I was. I loved traveling up and down the roads of Texas with him and his band. I finally found a place where I fit, where I was a part of something that I loved.

Rick Sikes And The Rhythm Rebels 1965

As life will often do, it threw me a curve ball, and instead of catching it, I let it knock me down. Rick’s music career and our love affair came to an abrupt end when he was arrested and convicted on two counts of bank robbery.

Now what? I’d still go out and listen to bands every chance I got, but it was never the same. And yet, I never lost my love for music. I fell in love with Jethro Tull and would sit with headphones on and listen to his Aqualung album over and over. I’d do the same with Janis Joplin’s Pearl album.

Fast forward twenty-five years, and I am now married to Rick Sikes. After a long hiatus, he’s started back writing and singing. Only this time, I am along for the full ride as his music partner. I learned to play guitar and loved sitting with him and co-writing songs or playing a new one for him that I’d written. His first public appearance was at Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas for Roxy Gordon’s wake in 2000. From that point, he never stopped until he got too sick to hold a guitar.

Rick and Jan Sikes Kerrville, Tx. 2003
Kerrville, Tx 2003

After Rick passed away and I moved to the Dallas area, I searched for a way to stay plugged into the music world I loved so much. I started volunteering at music festivals in 2010. At first, I was the outsider again. These people had a long history together. But I kept suiting up and showing up and working hard, and now the folks who still do this with me are like an extended family.

Then, when I had the opportunity to go to work for Buddy Magazine, I loved interviewing music artists and helping promote their new records. COVID took the magazine down, but a man has taken it over and trying to revive it.

In the meantime, I attend every live music event I possibly can. Music feeds and satisfies some primal need in me. It has indeed been my biggest influencer in life, and I have a feeling it will be until I am no longer on this earth. This sign hangs on my office door.

A gift from Marlena Smith Burris

Sorry for the long blog post. I normally avoid that, but this one seemed to require it. I’d love to hear from you. What has been the biggest singular influence in your life?

For the final birthday month giveaway, my short story, Brazos Wind is FREE for the next four days! I’d be honored if you’d download it!

39 thoughts on “Friday Free-For-All! #2

  1. So MANY things have influenced me. Talking to the pastoral SF writer Clifford Simak. The Vietnam experience–making a difference in the world (no; no thumbs up or down here). But the main thing is being introduced to Nichiren Buddhism. Forty-five years using the tool that guides my life.

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  2. I loved this post, Jan, learning about your musical roots and how music has been a huge part of your life since you were a kid. It all makes so much sense. Great photos too. A beautiful this and that post. ❀ ❀

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  3. I knew you were a music lover, but didn’t realize how much of an impact it had on your life, Jan – how wonderful! Seeing the picture of that radio reminded me of my grandfather listening to the Cincinnati Reds baseball games when I was growing up. He sure was a fan. Have a great weekend!

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    1. I love how an image can conjure up such a poignant memory. I’m sure your grandfather was thrilled to listen to the baseball games on the latest and greatest technology of the times. Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment, Teri. I’d love to know what was the biggest life influence for you.

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  4. Sister, we both grew up wanting something more, something that fulfilled the longings inside each of us. You always embraced life with such abandon and I envied that. I loved music too, especially Elvis!, but I didn’t find it as mesmerizing as you did. My greatest influencer was books. I learned everything through books and saw the world even from my bedroom. I guess we both got what we needed. Love you.

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    1. That is so true, sister. I loved books, and they were my window to the world. But my soul craved music. And yes, we both got what we needed. It’s amazing how life can work. Thank you for stopping by and sharing. I love you!

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  5. Thanks for sharing today, Jan. The biggest influence in my life was growing up without a dad. At ten years old I had to come to the realization that I would be my own safety net. (Or in other words, get used to flying without one.) I lived three different lives and the idea of not looking down served me well in each. As I conclude the fourth the idea remains.

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    1. Thank you for that inspiring comment, John. I cannot imagine growing up without a father and having such big responsibility at such a young age. Thank goodness, you didn’t look down and hopefully always landed on your feet. I appreciate you joining in the discussion today!

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  6. Beautiful, Jan. Music has a way of capturing our emotions and giving us a voice when nothing else can. So powerful — and your life proves that to be true. ❀️

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    1. So true, Gwen. I know you’ve had a lot of different influences in your life, but I’d love to know which one you consider to be the biggest. Thank you for stopping by, and Happy Birthday to you!!

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  7. Thanks for sharing your love for music Jan… I know how powerful it can be, as I’ve derived solace from it all my life. Even as a child, I loved music and my early memories are waking up with songs whenever my dad was around. He was an ardent lover of music. I also had a transistor and a gramophone with L.Ps. 😊
    Those are lovely pictures and you are looking gorgeous!

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  8. What a wonderful post, Jan! Thank you for sharing. Your story touched my heart. Music has been my muse and a part of my life since the first time I picked up the flute at 10 years. From there, I learned to play the piano, and now I’m studying the lap harp. Enjoy your weekend!

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    1. Oh how exciting, Mary. A lap harp! That’s a beautiful and unusual instrument. Thank you for stopping by. I’m thrilled you enjoyed the post and happy you shared your love for music! Have a great weekend!

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  9. What a great post, Jan!

    I still have the transistor radio my grandfather bought me when I was young. It’s a treasured keepsake at this point. And I’d forgotten all about Wolfman Jack!

    Loved hearing about your love of music and your time with Rick.

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    1. I wish I had kept my transistor radio. It was such a huge connection to the outside world for me at that time. I loved listening to Wolman Jack’s gravelly voice, and he played the best music! Thanks for stopping by!

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    1. I love that your father has been your biggest influence in life. I’m sure he’s super grateful for the opportunity to be your dad. Thank you for stopping by, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Hugs!

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  10. It’s so lovely to see what a positive impact music has had on you, Jan! Thanks for sharing your story.

    For me, I would have to say that writing and meditation/Buddhism have had the most influence on my life. Without those, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

    Have a wonderful weekend πŸ’•πŸ™‚

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    1. Thank you for sharing, Harmony. Buddhism is such a gentle and beautiful way of life, and I can see its influence just in the amazing way you write. Meditation goes hand-in-hand. How amazing that you discovered your talent for and penchant for writing, and lucky us as we get to reap the benefits of that. I appreciate your comment today! Hugs!

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    1. Music is Magical. I am visualizing that on a tee-shirt, Mark. πŸ™‚ It does have the ability to transport us to a time or place. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I’d love to know what has been the biggest influence in your life.

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