Allen Mills doesn’t have to dream up the heartfelt song topics he writes for his Virginia-based bluegrass band, Lost and Found.
He just has to look around.
Real life is rife with heroism and heartbreak, said Mills, who wrote Wild Mountain Flowers about a couple of Sunday school teachers he remembers from the 1950s. “They were sweethearts, but never married,” recalled Mills.
He believes it had something to do with the lady, Mary, feeling obliged to care for her aging mother.
As it turned out, Mary was never freed of this responsibility and allowed to follow her heart, as she died of a brain tumour at the age of 40.
And Wild Mountain Flowers conjures the image of her bereft companion laying flowers on her grave throughout his life.
Love of the Mountains is another well-loved song by Lost and Found — who perform on Sunday, May 1, at The Elks Lodge in Red Deer.
It was inspired by Mills’s great-grandfather, who lived with Mills and his parents while the musician was still a child.
The simple man, who owned a few acres on either side of a mountain, used to talk to Mills about farming and hunting, but left him with a much deeper legacy. For his great-grandfather raised Mills’s mother, who was only 18 months old when her own mom died of tuberculosis in 1921.
“The song was written out of respect for what he’d done for my mother. It really inspired me,” said Mills, who confessed “I can’t write fiction” — so he’s lucky he’s never had to.
If Today was the Last Day, from the group’s latest album, Love, Lost and Found, was composed after a short visit with a local character who could never shake his alcohol dependency.
“If you asked him what he would do on his last day, he’d probably say, ‘have one more drink,’” said Mills. “But the song is about walking among these hills, and smelling the daffodils . . . ”
The 73-year-old songwriter doesn’t think he’s any more nostalgic or sentimental than the next person — although those qualities are certainly felt in his music.
“I like to write about things that people can relate to . . . something that, if you listen carefully, you can find yourself in there.”
Mills thinks that’s why his band still has an audience after nearly 40 years — because the music is still relevant to listeners.
Lost and Found was formed in 1973, and Mills, the bass player, is the only musician left from the original lineup since mandolin player Dempsey Young died in 2006.
The band is now also comprised of banjo player Gene Parker, guitarist Roger Handy and Scott Napier on mandolin.
Tickets to this 7 p.m. concert at 6315 Horn St., hosted by the Waskasoo Bluegrass Music Society, are $25 from the Red Deer Book Exchange, Parkland Mall service desk, 53rd Street Music, and The Key Hole. For out-of-town outlets, please call Gale at 403-347-1363.