Saturday, February 19, 2011

In Memoriam, Bo Wennstam - 1939-2011

Bo Wennstam was a friend of mine from the folk music world. We were drawn together by a mutual love of the music of the Kingston Trio, whose sole surviving member Bob Shane broke the news of Bo's death here in the U.S. (Bo was a Swede who lived in Mallorca.) This is a copy of the post I made to the KT message board; there will be more to say about Bo very soon.

Bob Shane's message about the passing of Bo Wennstam, though not unexpected, is still a major blow to all of us who knew him in three dimensions - though his loss is incalculable to those of us who love the Kingston Trio and were acquainted with him only in cyberspace. I believe he would have been happy and proud to know that it was Bob himself who broke the news to us, and the boy inside of Bo even in his latter years - the boy who in Sweden so loved the KT and folk music - would have been deeply gratified that this was so.

Tributes to Bo from his friends are coming in already, and I'd like to share some of them here, as well as direct people to some of Bo's remarkable legacy. But first, taking my cue from Rick Daly's FolkUSA Rogue's Gallery - here is the man himself.

Bo Wennstam

Bo With Good Friends Josh Reynolds (L) and Bert Williams(R)

Bo At FC10 With Fellow Rogue Mick Coates

Completing The FC International Trio Of HellRaisers, Scotland's Tom Craig

Bo loved Fantasy Camp and attended in 2007, 2008, and 2009. He shot and uploaded 324 videos of the event, everything from stage performances (including the very last appearance of the NBJ KT together performing in public) to jam sessions to the wonderful instructional videos of Tom Sanders and Bert Williams. 324 videos. Should this event last 100 years, it will never be covered more comprehensively. The videos are available here:

Bo Wennstam's Fantasy Camp Channel On YouTube

Bo's channel should remain on YouTube as long as the site lasts - there are no maintenance requirements or fees. I believe that some of us with decent computer skills and a bit of time could begin to organize these on a third party site. I've left a comment on the channel and invite any other YouTube registered clients to do so as well.

As a tribute to Bo (who is mentioned here), master musician and FC regular Fred Grittner posted his FC re-write of the classic Kingston Trio song "I'm Going Home" to Bo's FaceBook page. Here it is:

A wonderful tribute indeed as Bo goes home.

It has also become customary in the short life of FaceBook for friends and acquaintances to post a remembrance on a user page when someone passes on. If you are a registered FaceBook member, you can "write on the Wall" of Bo even if you're not a FB friend. His page is here:

Bo Wennstam's FaceBook Page

Bo's good friend Tom O'Donnell recorded one of Bo's favorite songs by former KT player John Stewart called "Some Kind Of Love," and friend Max Schwartz created a video montage of pictures of Bo and Fantasy Camp to go with the music. They sent it to Bo in early December, so Bo had the chance to see and appreciate Tom's work on behalf of their friendship.

As I believe many of us already know from decades of living and the losses that that entails, we will feel Bo's absence most intensely when we, God willing, all assemble again where we knew him best, next August in Scottsdale. To say that Bo's spirit will hover over and with us might seem to be a sentimental cliche - except that those of us who knew him and his complete love of all things Kingston realize how thoroughly true it is. "I am a part of all that I have met," wrote Tennyson in Ulysses, and all of us who knew Bo will carry that part of him that touched us til the end of our own days.