Local Hero: Craig Tinney

craigFor new musicians hoping to hone their skills enough to play for dances, approaching a circle of well-established musicians can feel intimidating. I've had that experience while toting an accordion, an instrument not always fondly regarded among traditional musicians of a certain stripe. Accordionists are not unique in being greeted with well-worn jokes about our instruments, and if aspiring musicians feel intimidated already, those jokes, though perhaps well-meaning, can add to the feeling of nervous self-consciousness.

That's one reason why in those early days of learning dance music, I was always happy to see and deeply grateful to Craig Tinney, veteran of Tucson's premier Old-Time band, The Privy Tippers, and a past president of Tucson Friends of Traditional Music. On such occasions, Craig's voice would boom out, drowning out all others, "Hey Russ! Bring that squeezebox over here! Sit right down! Let's play some tunes!" My nervousness would dissipate, and I would begin to feel part of a beautiful community of musicians.

Time has passed. Craig died a few years back, and I have achieved some success as a dance musician. Now, I often think of Craig at sessions, and I have vowed to do my best to emulate his warm, welcoming spirit, the spirit of a community.

- Submitted by Russ Healy