Harry Musselwhite, Author

A musician, actor, writer and podcaster, Harry Musselwhite goes beyond the typical entertainment triple threat.

A Valencia County resident of a few years by way of Rome, Ga., Musselwhite released two books in December, which will appeal to adults and children alike.

The first is “A Month of Sundays: The New Mexico columns,” a collection of his columns from his work with The Rome News-Tribune, in Rome, Ga., for more than two decades.

He wrote three “spec” columns and sent them to the News-Tribune for possible publication.

“They said, ‘You need to get on board here,’” Musselwhite said with a laugh.

After his first published column, he received a handwritten letter. It wasn’t exactly what he expected.

“I have to tell you, he blamed me for every ill that society had. I wrote about Broad Street in Rome, Georgia. The most innocuous thing on the planet,” he recalled.

He drove down to talk to his editor immediately. A small town newspaper editor of some experience, Musslewhite said he recognized the handwriting and welcomed the new columnist to the business.

“So that was an inauspicious beginning to a career,” he said with a chuckle

Since then, feedback was positive, and when he came west with his wife, Dr. Laura Musselwhite, the dean of instruction at The University of New Mexico-Valencia campus, the Rome editor asked him to continue writing his column, now with a Southwest flair.

Living on what he describes as “the tiniest road in Valencia County,” Musselwhite regales his readers in Georgia with his observations about ditches and acequias, water rights, auto dealerships in the morning, cats, dogs and goat heads.

“Some things we have here that they don’t back in Georgia, but some we do,” he said. “I got this thing going and they like it.”

His involvement in the movie and music industry in New Mexico has led Musslewhite into the studio for another creative endeavor — a podcast. It’s called “The Dungball Express.” When asked about the name, he pauses.

“Can you print dungball in the News-Bulletin?” Yes, yes we can. However, the explanation of the title doesn’t lend itself to print easily.

“Well, in the entertainment business, we always push a lot of s*** up hill,” he says, laughing and shrugging.

The podcast focuses on New Mexico arts, music and film. Never one to pass up promote his work, Musslewhite notes a newer episode about his new books.

In his book of columns, each essay is flanked by a Musselwhite’s own black and white photography from his camera, many of which is from Valencia County.

“A Month” is available locally at Europa, located north of Los Lunas on N.M. 314; at Organic Books in Albuquerque, and through Amazon and at  amonthofsundaysbook.com.

Named the 2022 recipient of the New Mexico Music Awards best jazz recording, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that his second book — an illustrated children’s tome — is about music.

“Roshi and the Coyote Choir” is the story of a Valencia County ranch dog and his unlikely friendship with Margarita the Coyote, who, with her family, gathers on a mesa every night and sings.

Inspiration came from Musslewhite’s own dog, Roshi, who he heard barking one night.

“The coyotes were howling back and they have kind of a soprano. I said, ‘They sound like a choir.’ It was Roshi and the coyote choir,” he said. “I thought, ‘Well wouldn’t it be nice if the children had an opportunity to read about creatures that weren’t supposed to get along. That were supposed to be sworn enemies and suddenly, through music — cue the sound track — they became friends.”

“Roshi” is illustrated by distinguished illustrator Rick Geary, of Carrizozo, N.M., who Musselwhite calls “brilliant beyond belief,” and his illustrations “just magical.”

Both books are published by Wheredepony Press.

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Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.