“Now I have lived a lot. Now I have something to say!”: Marilyn Dirrig, 56, musician & songwriter, Open Mic host, Akron, Ohio
Marilyn Dirrig invited us to her house for the interview, to an Open Mic Night in the Northside Pub in Akron and to one of her band rehearsals.
“My dad wanted to be a big band singer, I have recordings of him, I also have recordings of me, when I was five years old”. She always was a musician, wrote songs, played guitar but in her thirties and forties she had no time between raising a child and working as a medical photographer in a hospital. But “I always wanted to do music and I am almost 60 and I am doing it finally!” Marilyn plays twelve string and six string guitars, some keyboard, the harmonica, the bass and she even wants to learn drums. “I now try to learn slide guitar, I am getting old I have arthritis in my hands and that’s one way to play without stressing your fingers out” Marilyn was influences by a group of older women musicians; The all women’s blues band Saffire – the Uppity Blues Women. “They all had had a career and quit their jobs, one was a nurse, one was a computer programmer and one was a teacher. That was twenty years ago, it was great to see them, they were great”.
Akron’s Chrissie Hynde is of course a big influence for Marilyn, “they said, she played like a guy everybody says: I play like a guy”, Marilyn laughs. Marilyn also mentions Kathy Johnson, a singer and songwriter in Akron: “I admire her a lot”.
The photographer Imogen Cunningham also influenced her, when she was 80 she photographed other 80-100 year old people.
About her age she says: “People generally do not like to talk about it, but maybe musicians are another breed, they think about stuff like that more than other people. My parents didn’t even reach 70. I enjoyed my fiftieth birthday party, it is less to worry about now… I have come back into the same hood I grew up in… to pick up where I left off”.
When Marilyn was in high school there was not much encouragement to pick up a guitar and leave home like Chrissie Hynde but she does not regret it – at least she makes music now.
“Now I have lived a lot. Now I have something to say! My songs are pretty personal (…) I am now doing things that I wanted to do then – it is never too late”.
Marilyn organized the open Mic at the Northside in Akron and we had the chance to see the bands: Amethyst, with Marilyn herself, Marti Jeffers and Amy Walker. For the filming we asked the Jazz singer Peggy Coyle to come by, we listened to the singer songwriter Kathy Johnson and many other great performances.
Interviewed on the 27. 9. 2011