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Category Archives: Friends

Another Island

Four weeks after leaving Bald Head Island, it was time for us to once again enter a ferry and leave the mainland. Our destination: Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, which of course is about 25 times bigger and a thousand times more famous than Bald Head Island. In fact it’s so big, Tish and I only got to see a small section of it. We stayed at the house of our friends Nat and Pam Benjamin in Vinyard Haven for three days and enjoyed the beautiful beaches and the lovely weather.

The only thing we didn’t like about Martha’s Vineyard was the traffic: There’s fast-going cars everywhere, and riding our bicycles felt much more dangerous than it did in New York City. Made us wish for the whacky golf carts from Bald Head Island.

For our last evening, Nat and Pam invited a few people over and cooked a great dinner. It was a pleasure to finally meet Tish’s old friend Kate Taylor and hear her sing some songs.

P. S.: Apart from being a great singer-songwriter and a wonderful friend, Kate is also the sister of her famous brother James. We also met Carly Simon‘s brother and John Belushi’s widow. It’s that kind of island.

(Written in Redding, CA, July 21, 2012)

A Hamburger In Massachusetts

Right after visiting with Nick and Michaela in Dover, New Hampshire, we drove to Northampton, Massachusetts to meet up with yet another friend from Hamburg. Frank Sleegers was my neighbor for a short while about 15 years ago, and we have been friends ever since. He now splits his time between Massachusetts, where he teaches landscape architecture at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, and Hamburg, where his wife Susanne and their daughter Greta live. Not an easy situation, as you can imagine, but they seem to be dealing pretty well with it.

Apart from teaching at UMass, Frank also works as an artist. Between picking him up in Northampton and driving to Tish’s show in Windsor, Connecticut, we found the time to take a look at his work “Community Spirit” in the town of Springfueld, Massachusetts. The idea behind this mural (Wandgemälde) is probably best explained in the official sign that comes with it:

At Tish’s concert in Windsor, which was hosted by long-time friend and fan Irwin Nussbaum, Frank took some pictures, which give you the opportunity to see, what my exciting work at Tish’s shows looks like:

A Good Man

Walking the streets of Boston with Howell Begle

As I already mentioned, the greatest thing about travelling with Tish is meeting interesting and friendly people. To this I should add that a lot of them are people that I never would have been able to meet if not through Tish. One of them is Tish’s old friend Howell Begle (pronounced “Bee-gel”). Howell is a renounced entertainment and media lawyer, who has become immortal by his successful fight for the rights of  African-American rhythm and blues musicians.

Since the early 80s, Howell has secured correct royalty payments and other financial support for dozens of the pioneers of black music, who in the 50s and 60s had been given very unfavorable contracts by the record companies. Directly or indirectly due to Howell’s work, about 1000 contracts between musicians and record companies have been altered in favor of the musicians. Howell is also one the founders (together with singer legend Bonnie Raitt) of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, an organisation, which over the years has collected millions of dollars from record companies and given them to old African-American musicians in need of financial and medical assistance.

It was quite an honor for me to get to know a man who has done such great work. We had lunch with Howell, his wife Julie and their son Charles and also got to see their beautiful town house near Boston Public Garden, which holds a lot of memorabilia from Howell’s work for the musicians.

Blast From The Past

With Dave Magill at the “White Horse” in Black Mountain, North Carolina

Maybe the best thing about our trip is meeting so many great people. There are interesting and friendly persons almost everywhere we go. Some of them are people we both have met before, some are new acquaintances to Tish and me, and some are people whom Tish has known for years, but whom I never got to meet. One person from her past that Tish has mentioned a lot over the years is Dave Magill. Dave is a great guitar player and singer, and he was  Tish’s closest musical partner during her time in Red River, New Mexico, between 1979 and ca. 1982  “Ca.”, because the two can’t quite agree on exactly when their musical cooperation ended. Nor are they sure, when they had seen each other for the last time. Dave thinks it was in 1996. The important thing is that they met again in 2012, in Black Mountain, North Carolina, where Tish played a show at the “White Horse”.

Dave and his wife Cindi live in Webster, which is not far from Black Mountain, so they came over for the show, and of course Dave sat in for a large section of it. It was wonderful to see how the musical and personal understanding materialized immediately after so many years of not playing together.

Old Friends

Tish and Becky singing together on Bald Head Island. I wish I had a picture of them from the seventies, but for some reason not a single one has showed up yet

As I mentioned before, our home base here on Bald Head Island is the vacation home of Tish’s friend Becky. Tish and Becky went to Providence High School in San Antonio together. Becky (whose maiden name is Garcia, by the way) can actually be credited with discovering Tish’s vocal talent (“You have a vibrato!” and with teaching Tish her first chords on the guitar. In those days, the two of them must have been singing in harmony all the time, to an extent that caused  their classmates to complain about that permanent soundscape (“¡Ay, again!”).

After high school, Tish and Becky got out of touch and didn’t see each other again until 2008, when Becky came to see Tish perform at Merlefest in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. They have stayed close friends ever since, and luckily Becky found the time to join us for a few days on Bald Head Island. When they sang together, they made it sound like it was 1972 all over again!

Here’s a little clip of Becky and Tish singing “Solamente Una Vez” from our last visit to Bald Head Island in 2010: