Maybe it doesn’t really matter whether it’s the years or the mileage. Folk duo Curtis and Loretta Teague are celebrating plenty of both this April with their anniversary tour, commemorating 35 years of playing together and 25 of being married. After meeting in California in 1977, the two have been crisscrossing the country playing their musical blend of folk and Celtic, covers and originals. The two will perform at Cousin Andy’s Coffee House at 7:30 Friday. They will also be appearing on 91.1 WDBX at 5 p.m. before the show. They took some time to talk to the Daily Egyptian about how they met and living the folk musician’s life.
Daily Egyptian: So how did you guys first meet?
Curtis Teague: I had been kind of a beach bum in Hawaii for five years. I ended up in Santa Cruz (Calif.). I was helping a friend of mine I knew in Hawaii make bamboo flutes. I was just kind of hanging, sitting on the couch. It was right on the beach, and I happened to gaze out. There was just this postcard sunset and I saw this lady, long hair blowing in the breeze swaying her way down the beach with her guitar in her hand, and I thought, “Wow. Nice guitar.”
Loretta Simonet: That’s his version. I went to college and got a degree in theater. So I’ll go to the west coast and make my break in music or theater. So I get to Santa Cruz. I hadn’t made my break yet, so I was working as a nurse’s aid. And so I went down to the beach to practice my guitar because I had a gig that night in a variety show. This guy walks up to me and says, “Hey, I play guitar.” Well, I didn’t know what to think. You can’t know if you can trust people or not on a beach. He actually ran back to where he was living and came back with a mandolin. Immediately we sat down on the beach and started jamming. We think the first song we played together was “Suzanne.” Right away we thought, “Wow, our voices really blend together nicely,” so he came to this gig with me that night and played the very first night we met.
DE: Did you guys immediately start gigging together regularly then?
CT: Santa Cruz at the time had this amazing … main street that was more or less closed off. There was just a real amazing street scene going on there, and there were just a lot of cool California hippie restaurants. I’d been playing on the street there since I got there. You could play on the street and make 10 bucks or something, and there was a 20-cent burrito place there, so you could feed yourself. A lot of the cafes would let us come in pretty much anytime we wanted to and sit down and play.
LS: Those were our first gigs together, playing for tips.
CT: I’d hitch-hiked up and down the west coast a few times, so I knew where all the abandoned buildings and church missions were. For a while, we just hitch-hiked up and down the west coast. Then we hit it big in folk music and bought a ’62 GMC from one of my uncles and lived in the back of that for quite a while.
LS: We were really excited about being able to make a living playing music. As the years went by, we progressed to doing regular, real gigs.
CT: You can see the discrepancy between the two anniversaries, 35 years playing music and 25 years married. There was a 10-year gap there. Normally I would say I must have proposed thousands of times, but certainly you’d have to agree that it was hundreds.
CT: She just wouldn’t go for it. I tried everything. I was very creative. I wrote songs. Dinners, I would burn candles all over the house. Finally … it was like zero degrees here (Minnesota) and I remember saying, “Why don’t we just go to Mexico and get married, you don’t have to tell anybody.” And I remember the day she said, “Well, maybe.”
DE: After all those years and proposals, what finally tipped the scales?
CT: It was erosion.
LS: You wore me down. No, I think I just didn’t grow up with that mind set. I felt like I was complete without being married and I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to be married to anybody. But I guess I just finally realized that I wanted to be with him forever, I just wasn’t sure how.
CT: When she finally said yes it just scared me.
LS: But we did go to Mexico. Got married in Santiago, a little tiny town. Of course our certificate’s in Spanish.
CT: We play shows for church groups and retirement centers, so we play for 80, 90 … even 100-year-old people, and you tell them, “Oh, we’re having our 25th anniversary,” they go, “Yeah, it’s nothing.”