Next of Kin: In-law duo to celebrate 100th performance at Oregon Garden

August 2019 Posted in Music & Band

Next of Kin: Lou Mickelson and her father-in-law Alan Mickelson. Submitted Photo

By Nancy Jennings

It is unusual to see the words “in-laws” and “harmony” used in the same sentence. But for Alan Mickelson and Lou Mickelson (20 years his junior), those exact words define who they are and what they do.

Aptly named “Next of Kin,” this father-in-law/daughter-in-law singing duo have been entertaining local audiences for five years. Alan plays the electric upright bass, while Lou plays the acoustic guitar and mandolin. They share strong melodies and tight harmonies. Their family friendly playlist runs the gamut with acoustic classic songs from artists such as Merle Haggard, Patsy Cline, Waylon Jennings, Anne Murray, Don Gibson, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt.

Married for 55 years, Alan and his wife, Pat, have lived in Silverton for 29 years, have three children – and three grandchildren. Before settling in Silverton, he dabbled in politics – having been voted-in first as a city councilman for eight years, and then as mayor of Tigard for two years. Later, he served as president of Silverton’s Senior Center board for six years.

His son, Marc, has been married to Lou for 30 years. Of those, 21 have been spent in Silverton. They have three children. She is employed at Rite Aid in Wilsonville as an operations analyst.

It was just a matter of time before the in-laws’ common love of music would seal the deal of a partnership.

“I’ve been involved with music most of my adult life,” Alan said. “Although, there was a little respite in there when my original partner and I decided to not perform any longer and split up. We started playing in 1961, and at that time the popular folk bands were the Kingston Trio, The Limeliters and Peter, Paul and Mary.”

Alan credits his mother for introducing him to music. “My mother encouraged me to be in the school band, and she asked me what I would like to play,” he said.

Lou’s affinity for music began in third grade.

“I remember listening to my parent’s record albums over and over while wearing headphones – and singing along…”

With that musical flame lit, she recalled she and her best friend going from classroom to classroom entertaining schoolmates singing songs from Diana Ross and the Supremes, Earth, Wind and Fire, and The Beatles to dance routines they’d put together.

As a high-school graduation gift her parents offered her a trip to Hawaii – or a guitar. She picked the guitar.

“It was an investment and I still have it. It’s a blond wood Suzuki – it looks like the Gibson J200 Elvis used to play,” she said. “It fueled that flame to keep me moving forward in a positive way.”

She even named the guitar “Blondie.” It became her faithful companion performing in bands she formed in her college years.

However, as life has its way of zipping along quickly, and with marriage and raising children in the mix, “Blondie” sat in storage for 20 years. Flash forward to the early 2010s in Silverton when Alan needed to fill a spot in a quartet.

“My son, Marc, kept saying I should have Lou play because she’s really good. We asked her to join us – and the rest is history,” Alan said. The quartet eventually became a duo and is now Next of Kin.

Two-and-a-half years ago, The Oregon Garden invited them to entertain for guests in the Fireside Lounge.

“It was kind of on a whim. I was up there having dinner with my husband that night. We heard that the band had canceled and I said, ‘Um, I can help you with that.’ I told them my father-in-law lives right over the hill and we can be set up in a half an hour,” Lou laughed.

“I’m blessed to be able to share it with folks we meet at shows – and even more so that I get to do this with my father-in-law,” she continued.

“After the hundreds of shows we’ve put on together, Lou’s energy and excitement has certainly helped keep me motivated. She keeps me going,” Alan added.

On Oct. 25, Next of Kin will celebrate their 100th performance at the Fireside Lounge.  For event dates and information, check their website: www.follownextofkin.com or Facebook: @FollowNextofKin.

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