Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Torrey: Small Town Charm and Griffin Family Band!

So, it's Saturday about noon and I'm enjoying my day--feeling a great sense of accomplishment!  I had gotten up early, been through a huge list of "things to do" and was chillin' with Ryan watching NCAA playoffs with my computer on my lap, when low and behold, I get an email from Doug with an attachment.  "Hi Hon, here's my painting for the week!"  What the ???  I still have three days to relax before my blog is due!  Gosh, he's such an over achiever!!  

Well, I anxiously opened the file, and, well, WOW!  

"Torrey Wash"

"Torrey Wash" really shocked my emotions!  Memories of red sand oozing through my toes as I walk barefoot through a wash flooded my mind of this great little area we Southern Utahn's like to call "God's Country."  I was suddenly inspired to write about this charming little town called "Torrey."  

Torrey is in Wayne County near Capital Reef for those of you who don't know the area.  If you haven't been there, you should!  Hopefully by the end of this blog, you'll be booking your flights, or getting out your calendar, googling it on MapQuest to figure out how and when you're going to get down there for some "Torrey time!"  

As you may remember, I grew up in Escalante, a town just 60 miles from Torrey (over the mountain and through the staircase!)  One memory of Torrey is driving through, to quote my dad, "one helluva snow storm" to play for a dance.  Yes, I am the youngest of one of the original members of the Griffin Family Band!  We played for every dance in Southern Utah, be it the 4th of July celebration or someone's weddin', we were booked!  (sorry, when I get into my Southern Utah mindset, I start to take on the dialect as well!)

My folks, Bill and Dawn Griffin, were amazing musicians and between the two of them, could play any one of several different instruments: piano, guitar, accordion, banjo and marimba to name a few.  Then with six little "chillins" to add to it, we added in a trumpet, drums, flute and lots of singers who could sing parts!  Well, okay, let me clarify a few things--we all knew at least 3 chords--that's the bare minimum to play most songs.  My mother, at the piano, would call out a chord.  "A minor!"  What?? A minor??  hmmm  If we didn't know it, we would strum "softly" and fake it.  But if it was C, F or G, we really "let 'er rip!"  I remember telling my kids you officially knew how to play an instrument if you knew C F and G.  They would give me a puzzled look.  Years later, I found out, they never really understood what that meant . . . now they ask with a smile "Mom, what exactly is "see effin' G?"  haha  smart alecks . .  

As we got older and got together, my mother would have a song she'd been working on and would hand out the parts.  "Doug," she'd say, "you'll be singing bass on this one."  Doug, bless his heart, has a great singing voice but wouldn't sing if I asked him, but would answer with a pleasant "Okay, Mom!"  He never refused to sing when she asked and she always asked without hesitation.  In the words of my Grandma Griffin, "Laaaard, sonny, you've got the talent, now use it!  Ya don't need to be coaxed!"  Oh if you could only hear me say that, it would be very, very funny, trust me!  

The last time the Griffin Family Band was officially together for a "gig" was at my Dad's 80th birthday party in October of 2006.  We had a great time singing and sharing all of our favorite songs with friends and family.  The following year, however, we lost my mother very suddenly to an aneurism.  She and Dad were a few months shy of their 60th Wedding Anniversary.  

Needless to say, her shoes have been very hard to fill.  Nicki, my oldest sister, has really stepped up to the challenge though.  She really is amazing on the piano and can play by ear, just like our mother.  We have had a good time, standing around the piano singing and figuring out some of these songs, as we'd stop her on occasion, "Hey, I don't think that's the chord Mom used to play!"  Thanks, Nik, for sharin' your talent! 

This coming July, Boulder Heritage Days, in Boulder, Utah, is paying tribute to Boulder women, of which my mother is one.  They have asked our family to come and entertain and pay tribute to our mother by singing some of our favorite songs and "biggest hits!"  We are very excited about the chance to get together again.  Tickets are going fast so book your flights now!!  Haha, okay, well, it's free and you'll kinda need to bring your own camp chairs - but get there early, the front row "mosh pit" will fill up fast!  Boulder is just over the mountain from Torrey, of which you could enjoy the most beautiful drive of your life.

16 x 20  
The quakies over the mountain are breathtaking - this was taken in the fall as the leaves were changing

Torrey is one of Doug's favorite places to paint as well.  He's represented by Torrey Gallery there on the "main drag" and has recently been asked to teach a workshop there!  So, effective immediately, Torrey has been added to Doug's "Workshop Tour!"  June 23-26 are the dates.  Go to the link to the right of this blog or on our website and fill out a registration form.  The response to the workshops this year has been phenomenal and they are filling up fast.  We are excited to spend some time with you artists!!  

I'm adding a few other paintings of Torrey and Boulder Mountain to get you inspired to either visit or paint.  It may just be from my perspective, but I do believe this country is one of the most well-kept secrets in the world!!  shhhh let's just keep that between you and me  . . .


"Typically Torrey"

"Torrey Cliffs"

Doug painted this onsite in front of Torrey Gallery up Main Street to the Chuckwagon.


  1. These are very nice paintings and I really enjoy your commentary from the spouses perspective.

  2. You know I've always been such a huge fan of Uncle Doug's work! I love the 'red dirt' too! Great mems! It's so fun to see his newest works. Uncle Doug you are so stinkin talented! Thanks for sharing...both of you. love you guys

  3. Jeanette, I look forward to seeing what Doug is doing and your blog. These most recent paintings are awesome. Keep up the good work girl! Cynthia Hillis McBride

  4. Nettie... I loved hearing about the Griffin Family Band and the good ole' times! I have heard that music all my life and I STILL can't get enough! But what I wouldn't give to see you all perform "back in the day"!!! Loved the pic and the trip down memory lane! The paintings of Doug's are awesome. I love seeing his work! Hope you are all doing well! Loves!

  5. What a beautiful painting - and I loved those others of the Torrey town. I, too, am a fan of Southern Utah. Loved seeing the pictures of the Griffin Family Band. What great memories - and Mom would love knowing we still enjoy getting together and singing. We could use her help on a few, huh? You have such a great way of writing, Nettie. Thank you so much for sharing in that way. Loves from your sis in Boston -- Nicki

  6. Very nice you've got some of Dougs Greatest hits on here, and I've heard some of the Griffin Family Bands' hits. Nice job you two!
    Aaron Johnson

  7. Great post, Aunt Nettie. I love that you are doing this blog. It is so fun to see Uncle Doug's work. He is so very talented. I loved reading about the mems of the Griffin Family Band. What a great tribute to Grandma that you would write about the family band and post a few pics. She and Grandpa had an awfully talented family. I'm just proud to be from that same line. I've got a lot to learn from you guys though.


  8. Memories of Dawn Griffin are a real treasure for us,and we are so thankful for the times we had to hear the musical talents you all share.
    Looking forward to getting the schedule of events when you will play at the Boulder Festival.
    your Escalante Fans - Harriet and Philip

  9. I'm your brazilian fan!
    Very good!


    Celso Mathias

  10. We always love seeing Doug's new work and reading your comments. Truly enjoyed learning about your talented family as well. Utah is a very special state and we have certainly left part of our hearts there. Until the summer...your Vermont fans, Ann & John Spencer

  11. Great Post, Nettie! Love those good old days! You write so very well. I enjoy reading your blog. Good luck with all you have going with the workshop, galleries, job-seeking, etc.

    Love you,
    Elder XL

  12. Gorgeous!!! Makes me love Utah.

  13. My name is Cari. Thank you for sharing. I grew up in Richfield. If I ever had a girl I was going to name her Torrie. Thank you for the memories. Nice job on the paintings.

  14. The painting "Preparations" is a stunningly beautiful piece. Those hits of orangie yellow set the greens off so well. Brilliant!

  15. Doug's work is incredible. We may have to have him get a show together for Boulder, maybe when we get our Boulder Arts Council set up. I am a lifetime fan of the Griffin Family band, all or in their individual parts. I am so excited that we are going to get to hear a set of your Mom's favorite at the Boulder Heritage Festival this year. It will truly put this festival as one of our best ever. Thanks for your willingness to share without too much coaxing. (I could actually hear Aunt Nora say that."