Wallen plays the accordion and the bamboo flute. I'm guessing not at the same time. He also gets paid to climb trees. Actually, he trims trees and has been doing that for the past 25 years. That impresses me because at my age, just climbing up a ten foot ladder gets my legs shaking.
Wallen with his accordion
Wallen has been a fulltime caregiver for his mom for the past three years with the help of his brother. So Wallen has had to put a stop to his gigging as a musician because watching over his family takes up most of his time. He has also cut back his tree-trimming work to two days a week... just enough to pay the bills to support the family.
As a musician, he played mostly at private functions and joined others at Oktoberfest celebrations. The accordion is made for German, Polka, Italian, Tangos, etc. music and shines when used in those types of venues. I would have a difficult time figuring the fingering on the chords, the notes and then have to worry about squeezing it back and forth to keep the sound going. So I have a lot of admiration for those who can play this instrument. I've also been a fan of Lawrence Welk and the chromatic runs he uses. Guess that ages me a bit.
A few months back, Wallen's mother took a turn for the worse and was hospitalized and then was placed in Palolo Chinese Home. So he and his brother began spending much of their time there every day, visiting, doing crossword puzzles and keeping her mentally active.
Wallen began taking his accordion and flute to the Home and found that the residents came alive when he played for them. For people in their 80s, the accordion was a very popular instrument to learn when they were young, just as the ukulele or guitar is popular with today's generation. So when Wallen plays for them, their faces light up. That positive feedback, in turn, made Wallen more committed to play for the patients. He's looking for other musicians to join him so he can play both the accordion and the bamboo flute. The accordion itself is a stand-alone instrument but he needs someone to lay the chords and rhythm while he plays the flute.
In spite of the hardships of caring for a family member, Wallen still looks to making life better for patients and residents at the home. And he's convinced that he can reach more through music as evidenced by the appreciation and feedback he's received thus far.
You can contact Wallen at ELLINGSONG@HAWAII.RR.COM.
There still are amazing and giving folks in this world. I am grateful to you readers for referring such giving people to me so I may be able to feature what they do in this blog. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.