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Rowe: The sights and sounds of summer, Part 2
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In my previous column I started a series on something that both myself, and you as readers, I’m sure, are very passionate about — music. Music is something that touches people in different and sometimes very profound ways. My earliest memories are connected to music, and throughout the years it has become as much a part of me as the very air I breathe.

I've always had a deep appreciation for all kinds of music and I was blessed with the natural ability to play piano, which I inherited from my mother. Growing up it seemed like most every home had a guitar or piano. Our neighbors were part of a gospel quartet and when they practiced, the sweet sound of their music flowed throughout our neighborhood, especially during the summer when people kept their doors and windows open.

As soon as I started school my parents enrolled me in piano lessons, and it was something I continued through junior high school. By that time, my piano teacher had almost given up on me because I was bored with playing the chosen selections. My problem was I tend to play by ear, meaning if I heard it I could play it. However, at that age, all I listened to was rock and roll and that's what I wanted to play. By high school I signed up for chorus, and there, under the direction of Mr. Tony Rucker, we learned to sing Diana Ross and Barry Manilow along with some old classics and standards. I also learned to appreciate classical music and once attended a performance by Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and that was a unique experience. This experience made a deep and lasting impression on me and helped me develop a deep appreciation for all genres of music, musicians and musical instruments.

Country remained what I love the most and if it ain't country it ain't music! Along with albums by AC/DC, Journey, Reo Speedwagon, Air Supply, Foreigner and James Taylor, I had an even bigger collection of country music by Freddie Fender, Charlie Daniels, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams Jr, Crystal Gayle, Donna Fargo, Anne Murray and many more.

Country music was the only thing I listened to as I got older. In the early 1990s, I heard Rhubarb Jones play a song by a new country artist. I couldn't help thinking how talented he was and that he was following the traditional country sounds of Merle Haggard, George Jones and Conway Twitty. From the first time I heard Tracy Lawrence singing ‘Sticks and Stones' with his country twang and deep baritone voice I became a big fan.

In the first part of this series, I mentioned that we'd been to Nashville's Fan Fair several times and met many country artists. There's too many to name, but, one who really impressed me was Charlie Daniels. There is much more to Charlie than talented multi- talented musician. Through his music and website, he shares his wisdom and insight and isn’t afraid to tell it like it is.

Although Nashville is known as the capitol of country music, Georgia is also home to many talented artists of all genres. Some have the passion and determination to chase their dream and others just enjoy playing. You don't have to go far to hear good music — just a few of our local musicians are the Dimsdales, the Biggers, the McCarts, Blue Max band, and a little further up the road, my cousin Leah Register. The Newborn Opry hosts occasional concerts featuring local bands and musicians at the old historic schoolhouse. Ma and Pa's Ole Opry House in Porterdale is another great place to catch some fine local entertainment, too. And if you want to be entertained while filling your belly, head on down to Buckners in Jackson.

Don't let the summer heat get to you, get out and explore and have some fun.