The road ends, but the journey continues...

Keeping you in my heart for awhile…

Note: Something triggered this nostalgic moment and while more on the rough draft side, I thought I’d use it for day three of my “6 years on WP.org” posts.

Denver Mandolin Orchestra Laura Bruno Lilly, Paul Drury, others

Detail of Denver Mandolin Orchestra group photo (circa 1999?) Laura Bruno Lilly (me) – kneeling in front, Paul Drury – tall one in the back


One of the joys of being a performing member of the Denver Mandolin Orchestra was the sense of generational genesis. The turn of the 20th to the 21st century marked my introduction and induction into this motley crew of musicians. A group ranging from violin virtuoso Thereza Stephan doubling on mando; mando greats Eli Karasek, Charlie Provenza, Drew Horton; to mother-daughter and father-son mandolinists sharing music stands during rehearsals and consequent performances. And then there were us guitarists headed by Ron Grosswiler whose collection of historical American classical guitar scores along with Mandolin Orchestra Repertoire from then till now was legendary and not fully revealed until after his death in 2010.
Peppered throughout the DMO’s 23+ musicians, amateurs and professionals alike, we all contributed to the awareness of this largely unknown type of accessible American music. Plus, those like myself who just wanted to play in an ‘orchestra’ with instruments not normally associated with conventional orchestras.
But what I remember most vividly is the memorial service Swallow Hill hosted for one of its own volunteers, and for one of our very own DMO members, Paul Drury, sometime in 2004 (?).
Living within modest means, and one who knew hardship as well as gritty challenges, Paul cared for others. He made sure everyday people got to enjoy simple pleasures – like music. Often, he’d pass on Swallow Hill concert tickets he purchased himself to people he knew marginally (often a little lost in life) – just so they could bask in the healing that is music.
One evening, he died suddenly due to an unperceived advancement in symptoms of diabetic shock…
I hadn’t been a part of the DMO for several years, but was contacted about the jam-session memorial to be held in his honor…an invite to bring my instrument and pluck some of the corny rep we played as a group. And yes, he had a proper musical tribute played by a smaller version of the DMO.
However, it wasn’t until the first strums of Warren Zevon’s Keep Me In Your Heart drifted through the auditorium sound system that the crowd got silent…Paul’s wish for all, sung for the one we had all come to honor that night.

16 Comments

  1. Andy

    Music is healing. On reading this my mind was cast back to that vigil in St.Anne’s Square, after the bomb, when the silence was broken, perfectly broken, by the woman who began singing Oasis’ Don’t Look Back In Anger. Like a wave that passed over the crown, individually, from humming along people joined in. It was an anthem, a lament, a balm.

    • laura bruno lilly

      I got tingles just reading this and remembering also (albeit via youtube).

  2. Jennie Fitzkee

    “Just so they could bask in the healing that is music.” That says it all, Laura. Just wonderful!, and a beautiful tribute to Paul.

  3. Jane Chesebrough

    Enjoyed reading your article and enjoyed the song. What a fitting memorial for Paul Drury and a beautiful gift from him back to the group.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Like you said, it was an unexpected gift from him back to us…

  4. Janis

    Lovely song and a fitting tribute to an obviously compassionate, lovely man.

  5. Marty

    That’s the second post in a week to feature Warren Zevon’s beautiful, last ballad. “Enjoy every sandwich,” as he famously advised. What a beautiful memory of your time in that orchestra, Laura. I especially enjoyed reading about the gift of Mr. Grosswiler’s guitar scores to UNC. I can only imagine the excitement that brought to their music library (and the work it created for their catalogers!).

  6. Roseanne

    Aww, Laura. What a fabulous sentiment and tribute for Paul. Gosh, this brought tears to my eyes. I think that how we all would like to be remembered – in the heart of our loved ones. ~smile~ Roseanne

  7. L. Marie

    So sorry to hear about Paul’s sudden passing! What a lovely tribute to him. And what a beautiful song! I’d never heard it before.

    • laura bruno lilly

      It was the first time I related diabetes with death.
      …and now with something as routine as prescription insulin being priced way out of reach for everyday Americans with this easily managed disease…it’s unconscionable.

  8. Ally Bean

    I’ve never heard this song before. It’s lovely. Thanks for sharing it here.

    • laura bruno lilly

      You’re welcome, Ally – glad to pass on ‘new’ tunes.

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