Age: “39 and holding.”
Occupation: Musician who sings and plays the fiddle and guitar, teaches fiddle; also teaches Kindermusik classes for different age groups at Artistic Dance Unlimited.
Family: Married to Jeff Barbra.
Musician Sarah Pirkle still has the same attitude about her husband as when she first met him years ago.
“The first place I met him was at a picking party at Steve Kaufman’s house. I thought he was so cute, and he’s still cute,” she says. “I couldn’t imagine being married to anyone else. Music brought us together. We both have music as a huge priority, and we communicate that way and understand the world in the same way.”
Pirkle moved to Blount County from Knoxville. “I started teaching at Merlin’s Music World 19 years ago, and I was making the drive twice a week to teach here and meet Jeff. He is Blount County-born and bred and when things got serious, I moved into Blount County, and I loved it,” she says. “Maryville is beautiful.”
Pirkle and her husband have two albums together and each has a solo album. “I’ve been making my living at music right at 20 years. I’m not a big fan of going into the studio. The thing I don’t like is having to be in a confined space. You have to get it perfect because it is on a record, and you’ll hear it over and over again,” she says. “It is more tedious than folks who are not in music realize. For live performances, you are in the moment. You are in front of an audience who can give you energy back.”
Pirkle says she enjoys her career in part because it is something that helps people with their daily life. “Music is an important way to communicate, relax and learn. I feel what I do is almost like music therapy. Music is something people really do use in their daily life,” she says.
Here is Sarah Pirkle:
What is your favorite quote from television or a movie?
“If I had a dollar for every brain you don’t have...I’d have a dollar.” - Patrick from “SpongeBob.”
What is your favorite material possession?
“My fiddle. It was handmade by a master craftsmen and given to me by my husband instead of an engagement ring. It is priceless.”
What are you reading currently?
“The Bible and Rob Bell’s ‘Drops Like Stars.’”
What was your most embarrassing moment?
“Wow, just one? One of my band mates and I had a fiddle/clogging duet, she danced and I fiddled. It was awesome most of the time, but I train-wrecked it once in front of an audience of 600. It was so bad, we had to stop and give up.”
What is one word others often use to describe you and why?
“Patient, because it is my job to be. I teach fiddle for a living.”
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
“My double chin. I’ve had it all my life, and no matter how skinny I am, it’s still there.”
What is your passion?
With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?
“My great, great grandmother, Sarah Katherine Fisher. I am named after her.”
What is the best present you ever received in a box?
“My vintage old-time banjo my hubby got me for Christmas a few years ago.”
What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?
“The first thing that comes to my mind is ‘One chicken can make three meals for a family if you know what to do with it.’ Hey, cooking tips are important, too.”
Other than your parents, who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?
“My husband, Jeff, who has taught me how to talk to anybody and also helped me develop the art of teasing people good naturedly and that good-natured teasing is actually a sign of affection.”
What is the worst job you have ever had?
“Strolling musician at a catfish restaurant. It was miserable, but the money was good. Basically my job was to roam the restaurant and startle the diners. It was a long drive, it was weird, but it paid really well.
What was your favorite Saturday morning cartoon and why?
“I can’t remember an exact Saturday cartoon, but I do remember anxiously waiting on Sunday nights for the Disney show followed by ‘Hee Haw,’ especially if I was at my Gramps’ house.”
What irritates you?
“People who make fun of other people because they are not just like them. It is a big old world, it takes all kinds. Get over yourself and don’t put limits on other people.”
What’s one place in Blount County everyone should visit?
“Outside of the Smoky Mountains and the river, it is the library. It is a beautiful library. It is well-stocked and architecturally beautiful and right there on the Greenbelt. I love it. I support it by having lots of library fines.”
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself at 18?
“Get ready to do your own tax returns, and make sure you file it on time.”
What is your greatest fear?
“Being old and sick with no help.”
I still can’t quite get the hang of…
“Driving a stick shift.”
If you could do one impulsive thing, what would it be?
“Take off with my husband and travel somewhere.”