Godspeed, Kip.

Kip under the cherry tree, Duncan, BC., July 2009

Gone at the young age of 61, we lost a musician and craftsman far above par today. An original mountain man of the first degree, Kip would have been happy to have contact with only those few he loved and the occasional seisún with any group of musicians who happened by.  

Kip restored my Gramma’s fiddle for me two summers ago, just before I started the doctoral program. He promised me a mandolin if I promised to master the basics of the fiddle. Like so many of us, I thought I had more time. I did, and do, practice, but not as diligently as I could. I have done more on my guitar of late than my fiddle, perhaps in anticipation of that promised mandolin.  And now…here we are.

Like any talented artist, Kip could be at turns moody, curmudgeonly, grumpy, and funny as hell. He could wax poetic with the best of them and debate on multiple subjects. He could also play a mean lick on a fiddle and take a wicked turn on a mandolin. And bass, and probably a multitude of instruments that I’ll never know. He would listen to the sound coming from an instrument, tip his head, then shake it and scowl, then unceremoniously take it from you to tweak and poke at it, then hand it back. And it would be better.

The Kip I met was a very different Kip from the one my wife knew as a child. The Kip I met and got to know was closer to the Kip who loved beyond measure his wife of so many years and who raised three great kids.  He was funny and dry, with a caustic and sharp sense of humor and an…interesting perspective on life. And he was my brother-in-law, and I will miss him and his music.

Thomas Carlyle once said, “Music is well said to be the speech of angels.” Kipper, I am sure that somewhere, wherever it is you are, there’s a helluva seisún rolling on and those there with you are celebrating the addition of your arrival to the circle.