By Martin Chang
Photos provided by Nancy McCallion
Nancy McCallion and Danny Krieger will be performing at Sheridan House on July 14. Call 661-371-6118 for information. Suggested donation is 10 to 20 dollars. They perform a mix of traditional folk music and McCallion’s originals. Both musicians have toured nationally and internationally. Danny Krieger plays slide guitar and sings harmonies with McCallion. Krieger has played with musicians like Andy Gibb and Eric Burden.
McCallion was first exposed to traditional music through her upbringing. She said, “I grew up with Irish folk music, my father was from Scotland and his parents were Irish. When I was young, he was in the air force and we were stationed in England. So, I got to visit my Irish family members. That was a big reason I got into Irish Folk music.” She first learned music on the piano. At first, she wrote poetry. Then she began playing professionally at 19. She didn’t start touring as a musician until her late 20’s.
When McCallion was asked why she liked traditional folk music, she said that she enjoyed the honesty of the emotions in first person ballad songs. She said, “There’s an old Irish folk song called ‘Blackwater Side.’ It’s a very real, human kind of story. It’s not romanticized. It tells the story without telling you how to feel about the story, which is one of the things I like about the narrative songs.”
One of McCallion’s favorite original songs is “I’m Not as Willing.” It is a waltz. McCallion feels there is an emotional punch added by the rhythm of the style. “There is something mournful about the waltz time signature.”
McCallion enjoys performing “I’m Not as Willing” because of the moment the song captured. “I wrote the song when I was feeling down. I was on the road and homesick. I had a long-term relationship that wasn’t going well. It was very real as far as what I was feeling at the time,” she said.
Below are the first few lines of the song.
I’m Not as Willing
I saw you dancing with your sister in law
A black-eyed cajun in a Texas dance hall
Sure of your feet and sure of your smile
Good for a dance, and a kiss and a while
Oh but I’m not pretending you weren’t looking at me
But I’m not as willing as I used to be
McCallion was asked for a piece of poetry she would like to share. She chose this Sonnet to share with us.
The Kaibab Squirrel
By Nancy McCallion
The Kaibab squirrel, lacking in all shame
poses for pictures, grasps for commissions,
French fries, sugar cones, other concessions.
A squirrel, yes, perhaps, only in name
He would peel your pocket to find spare change.
No blinks at click or flash, his impression
posture perfect, in high definition
foregrounded in a rectangle, and framed.
What brings you here, for surely you are lost?
Sciurus, scurrying salesman confined
to posing for self-same selfies. It pays,
He says, now conversational. The cost
is minimal, the memories divine
da Vinci didn’t work for free. No way