Larry Hull sings about the exploits of Kenai Stan while strumming his Alvarez guitar during the Kenai Community Library's Silly Songs and Lyrics audition. The Silly Songs and Lyrics contest takes place at 6 p.m. today.
Photo by Jessica Cejnar
Don't ask Larry Hull to play the blues when he brings out his harmonica. With his Alvarez acoustic guitar on his knee, Hull says his musical tastes are less moody and more Woody Woodpecker.
"I don't play the blues," he says. "I play happy music."
Hull picked up the harmonica in 1969, a few years after he started playing the guitar, he said, and has been playing ever since. But even though his harmonica burst into a rendition of "Turkey in the Straw" and "Baby Elephant Walk" at the Kenai Community Library Sunday, Hull and his guitar told of the exploits of Kenai Stan.
"I picked (Stan) because it rhymed," he said. "Stan is the man with the plan and they rhyme."
When Hull saw the library's flier for its Silly Songs and Lyrics Contest, he'd been playing with the concept of Kenai Stan. But he didn't actually put his song together until the morning of the auditions and plans to polish it further before the contest today.
Silly song contestants Hull, Robert Romig and Geoann Reichert and Glenda Graham gave contest judges library director Mary Jo Joiner and assistant director Julie Niederhauser a taste of what they can expect at tomorrow's contest. Only four people showed up to audition, but Joiner said she expects more will drop by when the contest begins at 6 p.m, adding that next year she might ask contestants to submit their lyrics before the event.
Sunday's silly song selection included Hull's ballad of Kenai Stan, Romig's story of a cat's hankering for tuna fish above all others and Reichert and Graham's Alaska parody of "That's the Hawaiian in Me."
"We were riding to hula class and one of the gals says 'I don't like bears on my deck,'" Graham and Reichert said. "Geoann broke out in song and it just grew from there."
Graham said she and Geoann had been taking hula lessons for about five years when their hula instructor had them dance to "That's the Hawaiian in Me," a song by Margarita Lane. Both Graham and Reichert came up with different ideas, wrote them down and liked what they saw.
"Each one of us would write a verse separately from each other," Graham said. "We would get together, go through it and change some of the words that didn't fit with the music and add words that would fit with the song we were singing."
Graham said she and Reichert write a new birthday song for the Sterling Senior Center for every month of the year, each month with a different theme. Their hula class also performs for the Sterling Senior Center and at one performance after the class performed "That's the Hawaiian in Me" their instructor asked Graham and Reichert to perform their parody. They also performed their song at talent night at the Soldotna Senior Citizens Center.
"They thought we should record it and be stars in Nashville," Graham said. "We haven't had any negative responses to our song yet. That was kind of fun."
Romig's main character in his song about tuna fish came from a play he wrote about his niece's cat. In addition to singing about tuna fish, he sings about a colorful flower garden the cat must journey through, with its harlequin fire ants that hug instead of bite, and tie-dyed skies.
A veteran of the library's poetry readings, Romig said he begins a poem by sitting down with an idea and writing lines.
"I just kept writing lines (and) every now and then I wrote a good line," he said, adding that the most difficult part is struggling to find the right way to word a phrase. "Those are the ones I kept."
Hull, who said he's practiced guitar every day for two years, has also written pages and pages of material he would like to use in future songs or poems. He said he tried to use his harmonica to come up with a tune to accompany his song about Kenai Stan, but kept veering into "Shoo Fly".
Graham, who sang "That's the Alaskan in Me" a capella with Reichert, said they were able to sing their song to the original tune of "That's the Hawaiian In Me." The first verse of their song, "I don't like bears upon my deck, moose in my garden, oh what the heck," was impromptu, she said.
"We don't have any advice for anybody," she said. "Just go with what you're feeling and put it into words and let it out of your mouth."
Jessica Cejnar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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