Special to the EagleHerald
Ed Peacock plays his violin onstage at the Island Casino and
Special to the EagleHerald
Ed Peacock plays his violin onstage at the Island Casino and

For a man with a lifelong love-affair with music, age isn’t a factor when it comes to stepping on stage.

88-year-old Ed Peacock was recently invited to play the violin onstage with the band Asphalt Cowboys. The musical group was playing at the Island Resort and Casino and the performance was arranged through Ed’s son, Mark.

Mark had gotten to know the Asphalt Cowboys when he repaired one of the musicians’ violins, and a friendship was struck up. Ed said his son plays with them often, and when they were in town Dec. 2 to perform, they invited him up on stage to play. 

“They invited me out that night,” Ed said. “So they set up a deal where we’d play three violins together. It was just a great honor.”

His son Joe said his father’s passion for music has been lifelong, and getting to play with the Asphalt Cowboys was an “absolute highlight” for him. 

“His feet didn’t touch the floor for two weeks,” Joe said. 

Ed said the crowd was large and he was a little nervous, but his kids kept telling him, “for your age you’re doing pretty good.”

Not only is Ed a big fan of the Asphalt Cowboys, he has long been romanced by music. Born in 1929 in the Upper Peninsula to early homesteaders and farmers, Ed said they bounced around a lot. However, one constant was music. His grandfather was his inspiration to begin playing the violin. 

“My granddad used to play violin when I was a kid,” Ed said. “That’s how I ended up wanting to play the violin.”

Growing up, Ed said his grandfather would get down on his knees and tune in the radio for the Grand Ole Opry, saying “now you bow, now you draw.”

“My grandfather used to let me bow the violin when I was about five to six years old,” he said. “My grandpa on my mother’s side taught me how to play the harmonica and the button accordion.”

Ed has been playing the violin since the seventh grade. While Ed yearned to play the violin, he was in a flute class originally. 

“The music instructor said, ‘I’m going to Chicago and picking up some violins, tell your pa to come down and pick out one,’’’ Ed said. “Dad went down and picked out this violin — a Julius Heberlein Amati. I’ve still got it.”

Over the years, Ed played in the school orchestra, and he later taught music and always had an entertaining bug.

“I haven’t played on that kind of stage for a long time,” he said. “I played at the lumberjack’s deal up in Newberry for years up on a stage; (but) that’s the first time I played on a stage out here at the casino.”

Ed said he used to play at square dances or perform at the Retro Station, which was an entertainment venue in Escanaba.

“I used to go there every Tuesday night and I played,” he said. “Oh, they just whooped and hollered when I played the harmonica. I played the Battle Hymn of the Republic and all those patriotic songs and people loved that.”

Music has also been an important part of his children’s life as well, with Ed encouraging all four of his kids to embrace music. He said his children and grandchildren have all gotten involved in music throughout their lives. 

“My son refurbished my grandfather’s violin and he played that one out there that night,” Ed said. “I’ve played violin with my kids for years.”

Besides the violin, Ed can play harmonica, mandolin, tenor guitar, the button accordion and the piano, sometimes.

His favorite part about playing music is the therapeutic aspect. 

“It’s just so relaxing; music is one of the best therapies there is for people,” he said. “My doctor told me one time, ‘keep up your music, that’s the best therapy there is for you.’”

That applies for everyone, Ed said, as everybody’s got a rhythm.

“Some people sing, some people dance, some people play music, some people turn on the radio,” he said, “because everybody’s got a little different rhythm.”

Through years of entertaining with music, Ed said he’s learned a lot about people.

“It’s just nice to see the smiles on their face when I play different tunes and I got different responses from different people,” he said. “Music is one of the best things there is for anyone.”

He’s played with many different bands from here to Sault Ste. Marie. Ed’s favorite music, he said, is bluegrass or country western, though he loves almost all music — except the new “boom, boom, boom” stuff.

“It’s got to have some kind of a flow to it, you know, because the heart beats according to its hearing,” he said. “That modern music, I don’t think that’s good heart music.”

For Ed, music has been a great companion through the years.

“I played music all the way down the line,” he said. “It’s just a good friendship: get-togethers, parties, people like music.”