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Wife's legacy of love imbues Larry Chrisner, Drum House

With last weekend’s death of Denise Chrisner, de facto den mother to the legendary “Drum House” in Elgin, her husband Larry Chrisner and their Southwest Oklahoma musical family are revering her life through music. A seeming elixir, music imbues and celebrates a life well-lived and well-loved. That’s what Larry knows to be true.

“The only thing that keeps me sane, is a D – and E … refrain,” he wrote in a song hours after the passing of his partner in life.

The “Drum House” has kept the grieving husband from not falling into an abyss. Larry said it’s easier to kiss your angel if you’re flying.

“If you’re playing you’re dealing with it somehow,” he said on Tuesday. “Today sucks. We’ve been playing music for three days and three nights. We played all night (the night she died).”

Larry sings out to celebrate the life shared with Denise over the past 22 years— 17 years married. Both waited to get married until into their forties, but each found the right fit together at the right time. He’d spent his years following the rock and roll dream. She’d spent her years as a special education teacher who worked primarily with autistic children as well as an actress. He said she was prepared for a life with a musician — she had patience and a strong sense of devotion.

“A musician’s angel is the person who sends you ‘Up on Cripple Creek,’” he said. “It’s past that with her, of course, she just does everything and never says a word.”

Denise is core to the story of how the “Drum House” became what it is today. The couple moved to Elgin in 1998 to take care of her uncle. They called the little house home until her uncle died. When they moved into his house they began to renovate the nearby structure to rent out later on. That didn’t happen. Although Larry hadn’t played music in about five years, it didn’t mean he wasn’t still a musician.

Larry said a neighbor had a drum set for sale. It was quickly purchased (with Denise’s approval) and moved into the “Drum House.” More instruments made their way, as did a host of established as well as up-and-coming talents. A clubhouse, an idea-house, a funhouse was borne. An artistic albeit demure soul, he said that Denise knew what the place was becoming and said “That’s beautiful.” It pulled beauty from her and her husband when she would play piano and sing with his accompaniment.

“As a retired New York actress, Denise felt comfort in the artistic expression of the ‘Drum House ‘people that kept her in the feel of her past profession,” Larry said. “Very closely living through the magic of music without the long nights and the busy streets and the faces of the peers that often haunt an artist. The ‘Drum House’ became a safe haven for us both. A world void of judgment and action of love. Compassion and understanding. An artist sanctuary.”

Larry’s addiction to making music is one his wife always supported. The joy he found from the home studio was carried equally by his wife. They became true co-figureheads for their musical family. As much as they’ve served as musical mentors, the Chrisners have also served souls. Larry said that was her way and it rubbed off in its own way on him.

“She never saw the bad in people, always tried to see the good,” he said. “We have two dogs and a lot of children who come to the ‘Drum House.’ That’s what we do is just pass the torch to the kids. Some of ‘em may be 50, 60, but … “he said before punctuating with laughter.

This family will come together for Denise’s funeral at 2 p.m. at Elgin Funeral Home Chapel. Her memory will be celebrated and remembered at 4:30 p.m. at Denise’s church home of St. Ann’s Church Fellowship Hall. There will be music, Larry said.

“We’re not having a thing of sadness, this is a celebration; she got promoted,” he said. “We’ll probably end up at the ‘Drum House’ after the funeral and memorial, making music throughout the night.”

Friends and supporters have established a GoFundMe campaign to assist with expenses:

With an AWOL guest, ”Today’s Best Soundemonium!” with Steve Carr, a.k.a. Steve-O, and the columnist turned into the No Show Show of fun. We took the time to interview each other and share our stories of falling in love with music and of, eventually, immersing ourselves into making it. It was a treat best left to the airwaves. You can check it out again at 6:30 p.m. Sunday. That said, you can check out our musical contributions.

Steve-O shared a song recorded in S-hole Studios: •Brother Finley — “Shaky Ground” —

Most of the columnist’s recording experience is lost to time so here’s something new-ish: •Burro — “12 Years Down, 2 Minutes Up” —

Jokey was layered with this week’s joke set-up. Here’s the punchline:

“The freakin’ chicken, open the door!”

Turn your radio dial to Magic 95.3 FM Radio around 6:25 p.m. each Thursday (if not much earlier) or stream the half-hour show online: or; or on the Apple or Android apps or on the TuneIn app, or:

And, hey, if you have a song you want us to check out, email us:

#Sundaymonium — Remember that every Sunday night you can listen to a rebroadcast of the prior week’s show followed by this week’s show: 6 p.m., Zack Crow; 6:30 p.m., The No Show Show with Scott & Steve-O.

Tune in after Sunday’s show at 7 p.m. for the Steve-O’s new weekly show, B-Sides Besides.

Visit, “like” (“love”) and follow our Facebook page:

Live music

Apache Hotel & Casino, 2315 E. Gore, 9 p.m, Friday and Saturday: Platinum Cafe; Tuesday through Thursday: Platinum Cafe; Friday, 7:30 p.m.: Gatlin Brothers; Feb. 22: Wynona & The Big Noise; March 22: Blood, Sweat & Tears; April 26: Sawyer Brown; May 17: Marshall Tucker Band; June 21: Chubby Checker; Aug. 9: Herman’s Hermits featuring Peter Noone; Oct. 25: Mickey Gilley & Johnny Lee; Nov. 22: Three Dog Night.

BrookRidge Retirement Community, 7802 Quanah Parker Trailway. 3-4:30 p.m. Wednesday, free. 536-9700: Frank & Friends Musical Entertainers.

Cooperton Senior Citizens 2nd and 4th Saturday Dance, Cooperton School. 6:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday. Kenneth Boyd, 580-530-9067: live band, free refreshments, family-friendly, smoke and alcohol free.

Legion Building, 6739 N. Wildhorse Road (I-44, exit 45, east) dance Fridays, 7 p.m., Wichita Sounds, traditional country, early R&R and ‘50s pop, ballroom; $6 cover and includes refreshments. No alcohol, no smoking. Everyone welcome. 574-1942.

Chianti Wine Bar, 5370 Cache Road, 366-3057, 7-10 p.m., Friday: TBD; 7-10 p.m., Saturday: Matt Moran.

Park Tavern, 198 E. Lake Drive, Medicine Park, live music and karaoke; Friday, 8 p.m.: TBD; Saturday, 8 p.m.: TBD; second Thursday each month, 8-11 p.m.: Open mic night with Bob Avila and Jack Smiley; Feb. 2, 2 p.m.: Polar Bear Plunge with Smilin’ Bob English Band.

Railhead Saloon, 909 S. Sheridan, live music begins at 9 p.m., alternative/metal/hardcore/punk. Live music Friday 10 p.m.: TBD; Saturday, 9 p.m.: Dead At The Helm, Southern Aggression, Light the Fire: 8 p.m., The Walking (Watching) Dead, Karaoke Dude and the Sunday Funday Hangover.

Guitar Bar, 1816 S. 11th, Monday: TBD; Tuesday: karaoke; Wednesday: acoustic open mic with Kris Brown; Thursday: acoustic with TBD; Friday, 9 p.m.: live music Ralph Spears & The Boys; Saturday, 9 p.m.: karaoke; Sunday: 7 p.m.: open mic jam.

Robinson’s Landing Marina & BBQ, north side of Lake Lawtonka, 1 mile west of Ann’s Country Kitchen to Lawtonka Road and down the shore line, free and open to the public, Friday, 6 p.m.: TBD; 8 p.m. Saturday: TBD; second Friday each month: 2nd Friday Open Mic with Dave Laurence.

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