Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Vassar Clements, RIP

Larry Maltz sent me this announcement from Russ Hooper, the legendary Dobro player. I edited some of the punctuation.

I received a phone call this morning from a friend in Nashville telling me
Vassal Clements had passed away.

My Vassar Clements highlights:
The Old and in the Way show at the 1973 Berryville Festival. I was fifteen
and my father had to drive to the festival. He despised any music that wasn't
traditional. Reno & Smiley, Mac, Monroe and Wilma Lee Cooper were his favorites.
Jerry Garcia, Peter Rowan, David Grisman was one of the coolest things I'd
ever seen. How surprised I was when dad took me backstage and introduced me to
Vassar. They'd known each other for years, since the time Vassar played with
Jim and Jesse.

Vassar and John Hartford playing twin fiddles on stage with the Orginal
Seldom Scene at a concert somewhere in Maryland, around 1974. I think it was a
Dick Cerri show. Tom Gray will remember when and where.

1982 or 83. Booking Vassar at the Birchmere (and a couple of others gigs)
with Peter Rowan, Marty Stuart and Roy Husky.

1986: Vassar organizing a four day benefit at the Station to help out an old
time fiddle player. Vassar, along with Doug Jernigan on steel and a host of
other great musicians spent most of the four days on stage as the house band.
Guests included Porter Wagoner, Bobby Bare, Bill Monroe, Mac Wiseman, the New
Grass Revival , Hartford, every Bluegrass act living in Nashville, and about
half of the Grand Ole Opry. When the evening's scheduled show was over, Vassar
and the band would still be playing until the venue management dimmed the

The Old and in the Gray show at the State Theatre. Vassar gave me the heads
up on this proposed tour a few months before the band had officially decided
to do it. It took a lot work and frustration to bring it to DC. No other area
promoter would touch it because of the performance fee.
When the show was over and Vassar was getting ready to leave and I said
"Here's your merchandise money". Vassar responded " Send the money to Midge" He
didn't even ask how much it was. Then as he was leaving, he stopped, gave me a
hug and said "I love you man".

Vassar Clements was a musical icon. But you'd never know it by the way he
lived his life.

Vassar Clements was a true hero of the fiddle, and a living legend. It is sad to me that so many of these icons fade away unappreciated, unremembered but for a small clique of enthusiasts.


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