Music and Art

My guitar strap. This is what got me into leather work. My dad had an old leather bass strap that I really, really wanted to copy (which is to this day the template for all my 3.25″ straps). My stepfather had all the tools and the know how. And my Grandfather inspired the art.

poppy guitar strap

(photo credit: Soula Pefkaros |

I have always painted as an outlet alongside music, although music had always been my main focus. When I was really little I wanted to be on Star Search and later on I would sing nearly every single evening on my karaoke machine from about age 10 when I got my first karaoke straight on through high school (Babs and Whitney all the time. Every day. With an “I. Will. Hit. That. Note!” determination). And my mom would be on the bed behind me listening, saying “You’ve got it, Lin!” when she would see me struggling with Streisand’s belter end note. (I’d be facing the wall, not the bed. Too shy.) Then I went to college for Musical Theater and eventually to NYC and Europe to perform and study Opera. Later to Nashville. And then to San Francisco. I was all about the music. But drawing and painting and above all, my family, stay constant for me while music tends to flow in and out, strong at times and nearly silent at others.

My strap is a painting of me as a baby in my Grandfather’s arms. I painted it from an old picture I had found. My Grandfather taught everyone in his family (and I’m sure many others, too) what it means to truly love yourself. He is my reminder that we’re all together on this ride and not one of us is above the other (but dammit, you’re a good one, he would tell you. You’re special. You better believe it, baby. You’re special.) And that is the power he put in every person he loved. All of us were individually yet equally so immensely special. That is a gift all of us can give to the people we love. I think it’s good to remember this when you put yourself in a vulnerable position where you’re about to open your mouth and make super loud noises. All of those who are reading this who sing know that the second you start doubting what’s going to come out is the second you start sounding like you’re making turkey calls. Especially since the brain always kicks in right before that big note. Right when you really, really need it to take a snooze. So having my Pop on my strap reminding me to “go out there and get ’em” (as he would so often say) helped me through some scary notes.

I think visual art adds a whole other means of expression for the musician. My strap is very comforting to me when I’m on stage and it is something I will have forever. It portrays what I love: Family. Smiles. Affection. Comfort. Flowers. Happiness. Togetherness. Peace.

poppy guitar strap 2(photo credit: Soula Pefkaros |

2 thoughts on “Music and Art”

  1. Yes, he gave us all so much. And he needed really very little for himself. I would not compare myself to him in any way except that I find parallels in my own life similar to his. Hitting a low point in my mid fifties; a different one than his but his left him clearly shaken for some time as mine did to me. This was while we still lived in NY, after Dan was born and before you (obviously). I can remember him not being able to climb the stairs to his apartment in those days, he was so devastated by bankrupcy and having to scramble to reorganize his life at an age when he should have been cruising at the top of his game. He went from owning his own business to working as a shirt sleeves manager of a motel, not to mention various jobs in Florida (including being a busboy). I have gone from the white collar world of education to driving a school bus (which is a truck, really). The story goes on and is long, but my point is that I find myself in “his” shoes from time to time and it helps to know how he handled those bumps in the road. He was the eldest child, as I am, and his brothers were very successful at a time when he hit bottom (similar to me).

    And I can see where it may be going, using his life as a map. I have my old Corvette as he had his old baby blue Lincoln in TX. even though I really don’t have the money for it and he did not either. But he was on his way “back” as I hope I am, too. Maybe things like that kind of helped him/me to feel in a very concrete way, that things are getting better. Over time, I might well be dependent on others to keep a roof over my head as he did in later years. And if so, I must remember to keep my dignity like he did for he accomplished what he set out to do, at least in his own mind. He never showed apathy toward others or *himself*, despite the fact that the failures he had could have made him bitter, cynical and self-effacing.

    Most Kenney men don’t live to 84, but if I live as long as he did, I have 19 years left to also live a life free of apathy towards others (or myself). I have his little black truck on my dresser next to the wintery picture of you, Cait and Bo’sun. I look at both every day.

  2. Awh Pop. There are so many comparisons between you and Poppy…the biggest being that both of you make other lives better and stronger. No matter what struggles there have been along the way, Danny,Cait, and I (obviously only exist because of you and Mommy) but also are better because of you. And so are a whole lot of other people. I’m so lucky I have you and I’m so proud to be your daughter. And Kenney men do live to be old! I remember my great grandfather! How old was he? He was old!! I think you’ll be rocking it here for quite a while yet. 🙂 I know I have procrastinated with my book for forever, but I think it would be cool to somehow write pieces of it together. I haven’t quite figured it out, but we can think about it. I love you, best father in the world. So much.

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