Last night's Nick Reynolds Tribute show at Jimmy Dukes' Dark Thirty house concert venue in Lakeside, CA near San Diego was an event that was always delightful, frequently moving, and occasionally bittersweet. Organized largely by Josh Reynolds with some significant help from Triofan John Lee and others, the show featured performances (and as you might expect, virtually every number became a singalong) from members of Nick's extended family, a number of his longtime professional musician friends, and a healthy contingent from Nick's Fantasy Camp years. Also as you might expect from an event celebrating the life of as big-hearted a man as Nick was - the roster of players in those three groups frequently overlapped.
Notables in attendance included George Grove, Greg and Janet Deering of Deering Banjos, Nick's nephew Joey Harris (of a great 90s group The Beat Farmers), singer-songwriter James Lee Stanley, John Stewart's daughter Amy, and Mark Josephs, musician and founder of tenorguitar.com and The Tenor Guitar Hall of Fame. In addition to playing tenor and harmonica (excellently, in both cases), Josephs displayed the plaque that was the official notice of Nick's induction as the premier honoree in The Tenor Guitar HOF.
Josh Reynolds emceed the event, and his quips and tales of his dad and occasional tears of memory were the unifying element of the evening. The show was comprised of two fifteen song sets, with most of the songs naturally being Nick solos or ensemble numbers on which he sang the lead. Many of the songs that any KT fan would expect were part of the program - "MTA," "Hobo's Lullaby," "One More Town," "The Gypsy Rover," "The Mountains of Mourne," "Little Boy," and "Bad Man's Blunder," among many others.
In addition to the hall of fame presentation, another highlight of the evening was relative Mike Marvin's reading of a letter from Nick to his grandmother written in April of 1957. Beyond strictly family matters, Nick informed her that the still-developing trio had fired their agent and were looking for a replacement at a "freelance guy" named Frank Werber, who in Nick's words had "ten times the ability and a hundred times the honesty" of the guy they had dropped. Nick also said that even if the move cost them some bookings, he wasn't afraid and was really happy because "we are getting so good that it's scary."
Musical highlights were too numerous to catalog, and there may well be a CD available soon. My own favorites included James Lee Stanley's "Badman's Blunder" and "Catch The Wind," FC friend Peter Overly's marvelous rendition of "Mountains of Mourne," Nick's great niece Maddie White's "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?" and Josh Reynolds' version of my own all-time favorite Nick solo, "The Wanderer" - as before, among many, many others.
A few pictures now - a bit dim and hazy because they were taken with an inexpensive small camera...
Tom Lamb, John Triofan Lee, George Grove - "Mark Twain"
John Lee, Mikey Burns, George Grove - "Bottle of Wine"
Ensemble Including (L-R) Mike Marvin, Mark Josephs, Mikey Burns, John Lee, Peter Overly, Tom Lamb, George Grove, Joey Harris, Dave Batti
James Lee Stanley and Michael Bettendorf - "Catch The Wind"
Stanley, Grove, and Josh Reynolds - "Badman's Blunder"
Grove, Mike Marvin, Lamb, Maddie White, Stanley, Joey Harris - "Flowers"
Josh Reynolds - "The Wanderer"
Ensemble: Lee, Marvin, Stanley, Grove, Overly, Reynolds, Batti
Many members of the KT/FC extended family were in attendance, including my friends Dan Hartline and George Jensen. When I noted the bittersweet aspect of it all - that Nick was no longer with us - Bakersfield Dan beamed that inimitable smile of his, gestured toward the stage at the performing musicians, and said - "Of course he is."
Amen to that.