From homegrown tomatoes to homegrown tunes

By Brandy Cochran

Special to The Press

Anyone who has lived Weakley County area knows that Richard Gallagher has played a major role in making what the Martin Farmers’ Market is today. What may come as a surprise, though, is that you can now hear him at AB Cheatham’s Downtown Tavern playing his own homemade guitar during Open Mic Night on Friday evenings.

Back in 2003, the Gallaghers, Rich and Nicolle, were looking to buy a home after getting married, but at the time, they were living in North Philadelphia, and, as Richard put it, “A couple of hundred grand could get you a nice cracker box on the bad side of town.”

They looked into this new program smalls towns were implementing at the time that were seeking people to relocate to add to their communities.

This sparked the idea in them that they might not be stuck in Philadelphia after all; in fact, they realized they could literally move anywhere. After tons of research and the cross-referencing of various small towns’ crime rates, cost-of-living, and cultures, the Gallaghers packed up their home and headed for Dresden, Tennessee.

Of course, transitioning is never simple, and life always throws curveballs, but just before they thought they were going broke in 2005, Richard started working under local farmers to learn how to turn a patch of their land into okra that he could sell at the Martin Farmers’ Market.

A year later, they both easily settled in and became active members of the Weakley County Community. After only a year of being involved in the Market, Gallagher was chosen to replace the director, Janet Nelson upon her retirement, and he took on the job with the same drive and vigor that he is now known for.

By 2008, only three years after moving to Weakley County from Philadelphia, Gallagher had formed the Martin Farmers’ Market’s first official Customer Appreciation Day. After that, the popularity of the Market kept going, and, eventually, it grew into the mass structure and local weekend favorite community members all know today.

Gallagher’s love for music has always shown through at the Farmer’s Market, as he books local musical acts as often as he can. For the past year or so, he has been working on his own personal musical hobby — luthiering, or the art of guitar building.

During an interview with The Press, he said since 1993, he has always been interested in learning to play guitar and write music, but he became a mechanic instead, leaving his love affair with guitar behind.

Fast-forward to when he turned 35, and he stumbled across a self-help book that urged its readers to always work on a hobby to keep life fulfilling and fun. His first attempt at building a guitar was a simple cigar box guitar. Now he not only hand makes acoustics, but is also attempting to repair and build violin bows.

Fans can now find him strumming away on his personally-crafted acoustic, playing folk-punk covers of his favorite jams, such as Prince’s “When Doves Cry” and “Talking Seattle Grunge Band” by Todd Snider on Friday nights, along with many other local talents in the area.

Once again, Richard Gallagher has taken on another popularized project in his community — one on its way to growing and thriving just like his garden.

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