New friends, musicians finding groove
A love of music has brought two young local men together, and this Christmas season the duo will share their talents with others in the area.
Micah Scott and Lucas Antonson will be the featured entertainers at the Prairie Village Museum’s Old-Fashioned Holiday Dinner on Dec. 5. They also are violinists in the Heartland Civic Orchestra, whose Christmas Concert is Dec. 14.
Although Scott and Antonson are skilled on several instruments, they arrived at that point by very different routes.
Other than a few piano lessons when he was about 10, Scott is entirely self-taught and plays almost exclusively by ear. His father, who played in a well-known regional bands like Summerville Creek, showed him some guitar chords a few years after he quit piano, and Scott was off and running.
“I’ve tried out quite a few instruments but I’m not fluent,” said Scott, 39. “I’ve spent the most time on the drums because every band seems to need a drummer, but I can get by on guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, bass, piano.”
Learning to play written music is challenging he said. “In the past I’ve played fiddle style. Now I’m forcing myself to sit down and read music. I’ve felt very overwhelmed in the orchestra, but it’s good medicine.”
Scott was born and raised in Minot, but in 1996 moved to Chicago where he spent most of the next decade. After moving back to Minot he joined a band and went on tour, which he loved.
“The whole time I thought, ‘Let’s just keep traveling and playing’,” he said. So when the tour ended, he struck out on his own. For the next few years he lived out of his car, picking up music gigs and odd jobs as he went. His travels took him as far as Georgia, though much of the time was spent seeing North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
“I was passing through Rugby and (former editor) Chris Bieri offered me a job cleaning the upstairs of the Tribune. While I was cleaning it I thought, ‘This is not a bad spot’,” he said, and decided to stay put for a while. “I really like Rugby a lot.”
Scott and Bieri shared stages throughout the state for a couple years, playing with between two and four others in a bluegrass group called The Roughriders. Scott, well-respected throughout the state for his versatility, is a current board member of the Bluegrass Association of North Dakota (BAND).
While helping a classmate move into a home in Rugby, Scott met Lucas Antonson and the two discovered their shared interest in music.
“I showed Luke some fiddle tunes, and I’d play along on the mandolin,” he said.
Although only 15, Antonson is an accomplished musician, playing the violin, trumpet and piano, “and anything else I can get my hands on,” he said.
Unlike Micah, he started taking lessons at an early age.
“When I was about 5, I had a small electric piano. I was lying in bed one night and my brother came to the doorway and tossed a piano book at me and said ‘Here you go’,” Antonson said. He started lessons soon after.
Antonson was in second grade when he heard someone play the violin in church. “I thought, ‘I want to do that’,” he said. He began the trumpet when he joined elementary band in fifth grade.
Antonson especially likes fiddle tunes and gypsy violin music, but his favorite is jazz. After playing in several groups, from punk to rock to bluegrass, Scott is open to almost any genre of music.
Both Scott and Antonson are looking forward to the upcoming appearances. The younger half of the pair confesses to being somewhat nervous thinking about playing with only one other musician. He finds it much easier to be part of an orchestra where he can blend in with the larger group.
“I really feel excited about the choice of music the orchestra is playing,” Scott said. “We’re doing a medley and it’s fun to see how the transitions are made from one piece to another. One song has an Irish-Scottish flavor to it, and some are in a minor key.”
Playing in an orchestra and reading notes has opened up a whole new world for him, he says, and someday he would like to try his hand at arranging orchestral music.
The duo is still working on their repertoire for the museum dinner, but it will be mostly traditional Christmas songs on guitar and violin according to Antonson. “But,” Scott adds, “we’re going to try to throw in a Bill Monroe Christmas song.”
The Old-Fashioned Holiday Dinner, Gift Bidding and Bake Sale is Dec. 5 at the Rugby Eagles starting at 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children 6 through 12 and free for anyone younger. The Heartland Civic Orchestra and Choir Concert is at 2 p.m., Dec. 14 in Tilman Hovland Auditorium at Rugby High School.
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