Isn’t Fun the Greatest Thing You Can Have?

Rhythm & Brews, Greer, S.C. (Monte Dutton photo)
Rhythm & Brews, Greer, S.C. (Monte Dutton photo)

My greatest ally is my guitar. Or, my guitars. I keep one leaning against the couch to my left while I type away here. I just got finished playing a few songs to get me ready to write this blog. I played a couple of mine, “Stuck in a Rut” and “Uh, Huh.” Then I played an old country song, “Shutters and Boards,” and a medley of Buddy Holly, mainly because American Graffiti was coming on TV: “I Guess It Doesn’t Matter Anymore,” “Oh, Boy,” and “Raining in My Heart.”

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

I try to play my guitar at least a little every day. I wrote a song, “Nasty Habits,” last week, or was it the week before? I haven’t memorized the words yet. They’re hard. Lots of long lines where the syllables have to fit just right, such as:

As a boy I followed the Golden Rule / Never went along when my friends cut school / Did my homework, tried to make straight A’s / Limited my violence to video games / And such

Actually, as it turns out, I wrote this on September 30. Time flies when you’re having fun.

On Wednesday night, I drove to Greer, thanks to a Columbia acquaintance inviting me to sign up, to play a couple songs at a gathering of songwriters. I’m vaguely aware that the night is supposed to be broadcast at, or maybe it’s already been broadcast, or maybe it’s available. It was a good evening, and Rhythm & Brews, a cool bar in the middle of town, is supposedly going to host them every other Wednesday, and, when I can work it, I’ll be back.

I met a really talented young songwriter from Enoree named Zelena Hull and her family. Zelena is fourteen. Her father was kind enough to shoot some video of me playing, and I spent a good bit of time editing it. My whole section, a little over ten minutes long, is here:

If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing — and who does? — I also broke it into two videos, one with my song “Scuppernongs & Muscadines” and the other “Wake & Bake,” which was originally written for the hero of my first novel, The Audacity of Dope (2011).

Keith Bates drove up from Columbia to play. (Monte Dutton photo)
Keith Bates drove up from Columbia to play. (Monte Dutton photo)

I will also post video of Zelena playing her song as soon as I can find the time to edit it, or, at least, at some point, I’ll let you know where you can find it at YouTube.

As for mine, if you don’t watch the whole set, you’ll miss some witty repartee. Or repartee that is intended to be witty. Witty is always variable depending on the tastes of the audience, but this one seemed to like my wit.

When I was writing about NASCAR, I sometimes played gigs. A few fans would attend because they knew me from my writing and were unusually curious. Friends would come, too. I don’t play much in public anymore but not because I don’t enjoy it. I love it. It’s just that I write fiction mainly instead of songs, but that could change if, uh, my business model does. I love writing songs and novels.

(This graphic was designed by Meredith Pritchard)
(This graphic was designed by Meredith Pritchard)
(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

              Here’s a link to my first novel, The Audacity of Dope, which includes in the text lots of lyrics that were written for the hero, Riley Mansfield. If you like my songs, you’ll probably like my novel:

              And here’s where you can acquire most of my books, many of which predate my fiction leap. My music started while I was working on True to the Roots: Americana Music Revealed.


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