Take Five with Becca Parks of Wood Willow

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Photo by Nathan Poppe
       

I am 27 years old and living in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I currently work in public schools as a Speech-Language Pathologist in addition to playing music in my folk/Americana group, Wood Willow, and another six-piece bluegrass band, Steelwind. I play the mandolin in both bands, as well as sing. One of my favorite things about music is harmonies. I could soar and dive between harmonies all day long and have the best time. A few of my musical influences include EmmyLou Harris, Tom Waits, John Prine, and the Felice Brothers, to name a few.Tell us a little about your musical background; how old were you when you started playing the mandolin, and what inspired your musical desire?

I grew up watching my grandpa play every instrument he picked up, and ultimately he is the person who inspired me to learn mandolin, guitar, stand-up bass, and the fiddle. I also grew up singing with my mother and younger sisters, and with them, I learned to love and master harmonies and learned how to sing with other people. I started off playing guitar when I was about 20, and eventually moved to mandolin once I started picking in the bluegrass scene, and it has been my primary instrument ever since.

Where do you find the inspiration for your music?

There are so many ways that I draw inspiration from music. I could hear one song and get swept away in the rich harmonies, and in another admire the incredible lyrics. I really try to listen to as many different genres and bands that I can. There is something special to learn and to draw from in each and every song I listen to.

What is your songwriting process?

Joel, my husband, has really pushed me to come out of my shell as a songwriter. Before I met him I was always so critical of myself and never seemed to finish anything. It’s all a muscle though, and I just needed to practice. My writing process now is usually to start with a cool riff or chord progression and start to throw words out and see what sticks. Usually, some fun ideas come out of it. Southern Intentions, our debut album as Wood Willow, is available now at https://woodwillowmusic.bandcamp.com/album/southern-intentions.

What’s your go-to instrument for songwriting?

My main instrument is a custom-made mandolin from Turkey Creek (#111) http://www.tcmandolin.com. I am by no means an excellent guitar player, but I find that it is easier to use as a tool when it comes to songwriting. I can’t quite put my finger on why, it just seems to make more sense to me.

Music to me is…

Music to me is anything I need it to be at a given moment in my life. It can be an outlet when I am feeling low, a friend when I am lonely, or energy I need when I am tired. I tend to “feel” pretty hard and I love that there is a song to enhance whatever emotion I am experiencing. I love to lean into it with music. Most of all it is something that can get me back on track and feel happy again, whenever I need it to.

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