Parks reveals music tips

Rosa Parks
Contributing Writer

Dean Parks -1
Weldon Dean Parks plays steel guitar. Parks has played with  artists like Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and Barbara Streisand.   Photo by Brad Sarno

Weldon Dean Parks was just five years old when he wanted to start guitar lessons. After being told his hands were too small, he started playing the steel guitar.

The little boy who played at the Fort Worth Country and Western show when he was six, has now blossomed into a distinguished guitar player.

Parks first got interested in music when he was three years old. He was in a music store and started playing “Mary had a Little Lamb” on a piano. He got good at playing music by working to get better and practicing every day.

Parks said, “Steel guitar seemed easy to me, so I started with some natural talent, but I worked to get better also.”

After college, Parks moved to Los Angeles to start his career. He chose to move to Los Angeles instead of a different booming music industry like New York, Nashville or Toronto  because he thought L.A. had lots of variety and was very lively in the 1970s.  Parks slowly started to get discovered by other musicians and producers, and hired for jobs.

Parks has worked with some different artists and played different varieties of music over his career. He has worked with Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Barbara Streisand and others.

His favorite artists to go on tour with are David Crosby and Graham Nash. They were his musical heroes when he was younger in college. He also liked to go on tour with them because they liked the types of new embellishments he added to their music. Parks loved the creativity he felt when touring with Lyle Lovett, James Taylor and Vince Gill.

When Parks became a parent to his two children, he wouldn’t go on tour and instead stayed home with his children as they grew up.

Parks likes much about the music industry, but he doesn’t like how unprofitable it is. Recordings can often be posted on YouTube, for free listening, and then illegally downloaded.

Nearly 1.2 billion songs were illegally downloaded in 2000, which hurts the artists profits.

Parks wants to see a system in which the content creators are making money each time someone streams the song. Parks also would like a more diverse and free radio. He wishes the DJs would choose their own songs and weren’t afraid of straying from the normal music picks.

When writing a song, Parks sketches his ideas out on music paper and then develops it with an instrument. Parks tries to keep trying to finish the song until the whole idea slides into place and become complete. Usually, he tries to get the song done because coming back later to work on it usually doesn’t come out the same for him.

Sophomore Olivia Bickford, who’s played guitar for two years said, “Parks’ technique of picking instead of strumming the guitar is much more interesting and unique.”

Parks has words of advice for musicians. He said that learning to play music that one hears in daily life will improve one’s ear and connection to the instrument.  

About how to get involved in the music industry Parks said, “Get a band together, or join one, or two. One thing leads to another so be in a lot of things. There is no wasted time, if you’re paying attention.”

Parks’ last words of advice were, “Good things lead to other good things, so do good things.”

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