Updated: Oct 2, 2022
Linda Sack was not only a close friend of David's, she was hand-selected by him to become one of four members he envisioned as the "Nashville Dulcimer Quartet." But, I get ahead of myself. More on the Nashville Dulcimer Quartet in a future blog post.
I first learned about Linda at the very start of my research for Pluck, before I interviewed anyone. An early search online yielded a National Public Radio article,"Late Dulcimer Player Inspired Tattoos, Cindy Lauper, and a Museum Exhibit" that included this quote from Linda:
He looked like someone who’d come out of the mountains. He had these little round glasses and he wore Amish jeans and boots and little suspenders. This magical little man with his little straw hat on and his dulcimers on the wall. "It wasn’t just a lesson,” says Sack. “He would tell these wonderful stories with his raspy voice, and as a teacher he esteemed you in a way that I’ve never experienced with a teacher before. He did not have any pretense about him and I think that’s what everybody loved about him.
When the time came to start interviewing people who knew David, I first reached out to a handful of people whom I had heard had known David. They were reluctant to talk. So, I thought I would try to find Linda Sack of that wonderful quote. Back in those initial days I was a little nervous; I was an unknown to most interviewees, and didn't know if they would be willing to talk to me. So, to assure potential interviewees that I wasn't a crank and had writing bona fides, I hauled out my CV as an intro. I was able to track her down by phone (she no longer lives in Nashville.) When I finally found her, Linda helped me get over my nerves as soon as we connected. As we corresponded and talked, I began to understand why David chose her as his friend and protege; like him, she exuded a good heart and had no pretense about herself or her tremendous talent. When you talk to Linda she, too, makes you feel esteemed. Like her friend and mentor, she told wonderful stories, and became my first teacher on this new subject. Almost the very first thing she recommended is that I read the book, High Sensitive People. "If you read that book, you will understand who David was." (It was great advice; it gave me a lot of preparation and validation for what future interviewees would tell me.) I will never forget what Linda told me when I confessed that I was nervous about cold-calling people; despite her not really knowing me or my background, she urged me: "Go tell David's story ...it's important." I didn't know at the time how important it would be, but her insistence that I Go Tell David's Story sustained me through many a challenge. It was the arrow pointing to the importance of the story, not just the musician. Her input became so important to me that I included her quote on the cover of Pluck.
Linda shared her favorite photo of her with David for the book (above right), and because of her I treasure it. It's clearly a quick snapshot, not with the best lighting or resolution, but I love the look on their faces; they both suggest so much about their feelings in that time and that place. Vince Farsetta, another long time friend of David's and also invaluable to this project took the photo. Pluck.
Quite by accident this past winter, I stumbled on Linda playing her dulcimer in the backyard, just for herself, on YouTube. If you get a moment, list to her play Southwind and Morning Has Broken. Her playing might help you understand why--whenever I think of the Angel of Rykenby who appears in Pluck's first vignette--that angel's face is Linda's.