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Bob 'Deckman' Nelson Interview

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Joe Offer 23 Oct 10 - 12:17 AM
katlaughing 23 Oct 10 - 12:35 AM
open mike 23 Oct 10 - 02:35 AM
gnu 23 Oct 10 - 07:51 AM
Rapparee 23 Oct 10 - 07:59 AM
RoyH (Burl) 23 Oct 10 - 08:50 AM
kendall 23 Oct 10 - 09:19 AM
SINSULL 23 Oct 10 - 09:58 AM
Stewart 23 Oct 10 - 12:25 PM
iancarterb 24 Oct 10 - 12:31 PM
Deckman 24 Oct 10 - 01:13 PM
iancarterb 24 Oct 10 - 01:40 PM
Deckman 24 Oct 10 - 02:43 PM
iancarterb 24 Oct 10 - 02:49 PM
Deckman 24 Oct 10 - 03:26 PM
Joe Offer 30 May 14 - 02:04 AM
Janie 30 May 14 - 07:41 PM
ranger1 30 May 14 - 09:14 PM
SINSULL 31 May 14 - 01:19 PM
gnu 31 May 14 - 02:39 PM
gnu 01 Jun 14 - 02:23 PM
Deckman 01 Jun 14 - 03:27 PM
Janie 01 Jun 14 - 04:24 PM
Stilly River Sage 02 Jun 14 - 02:58 PM
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Subject: RE: Bob Nelson Interview
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Oct 10 - 12:17 AM

Here's something new:

Published: Friday, October 22, 2010

Everett musician's mission gets attention in D.C.

By Julie Muhlstein, Herald Columnist
HeraldNet, Everett, Washington

Bob Nelson is up to his ears in a task that's close to his heart.

He is converting about 300 reel-to-reel tape recordings and hundreds of cassette tapes into digital CDs. When I met the Everett musician more than a year ago, he had already spent months working to preserve vintage folk music for future generations.

Nelson is an original member of the Pacific Northwest Folklore Society, a group that dates to 1953. Now 73, he recorded much of his material in the folk scene heyday, when artists jammed at coffee houses and other haunts in Seattle's University District.

I wrote about Nelson in May 2009. He was looking for a repository for the musical archives he is creating. Since then, he has had an encouraging conversation with a folklore expert at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

The national library, he said, is interested in preserving his collection of reel-to-reel tapes, which contain the songs of Walt Robinson, Bill Higley, David Spence and other popular performers from those long-ago hootenannies.

While saving the music he loves, Nelson has been surprised by personal connections he has made. The technical undertaking comes with meaningful rewards.

“I am hearing from survivors. I've had several of those experiences through my archiving,” Nelson said.

The music of one folk artist from Seattle's past, Terry Wadsworth, has Nelson corresponding with a Minnesota man. Patrick Gipson is the brother of Wadsworth, a singer and later an actor who was 42 when he died in 1982.

Nelson made the connection through an online folk discussion site called Mudcat Cafe. He never imagined anyone would respond to his recent post, which said: “I'm looking for the brother of the late Terry Wadsworth, of Seattle. I have a tape recording for you.”

Gipson did respond, and has since traded e-mail with the Everett man.

By phone from Red Lake, Minn., the 61-year-old Gipson said Thursday he was thrilled to discover Nelson had a tape of his brother. “It's a song I hadn't heard since the '50s,” said Gipson, a radiology supervisor with the Indian Health Service.

Both men remember the guitar-playing Wadsworth as wonderfully talented and charismatic.

“He came out of Tacoma. I met him in about 1957,” Nelson said. He remembers Wadsworth as “a skinny kid” who showed up in the University District “singing at coffee houses and just hanging out.”

“Terry was extraordinarily talented,” Nelson said. “The music just exploded out of him.”

Gipson said his brother ended up in California, where he acted in commercials, TV shows and a few films. Using the name Terence Locke, he had a role in the 1976 movie, “Goodbye, Norma Jean.”

“He was the most talented man I've ever met. When Terry walked into any room, he was noticed,” Gipson said. He said his brother married more than once and had a daughter.

Thursday, Gipson sent an e-mail to Nelson in Everett. Because of renewed curiosity about his brother, Gipson did a recent Google search.

“By following a few threads and a couple of dead ends, I found a brief posting from Terry's long-lost daughter. I have been looking for her for 20 years or more,” Gipson's message to Nelson said. “For many years, I thought I was the only one that missed Terry,” Gipson wrote in another e-mail to Nelson.

By phone Thursday, Gipson was pleased to share that he may soon become acquainted with a niece he never knew. “Because of this connection with Bob, I found out Terry's daughter has been looking for me,” he said.

Somehow, it's as though old songs on dusty tapes have come to life.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, muhlstein@heraldnet.com.



Learn more

For information about our region's folk music legacy, visit the website of the Pacific Northwest Folklore Society: www.pnwfolklore.org.

...and an earlier article:

Published in Everett Herald: Friday, May 22, 2009

RETIRED EVERETT CARPENTER

NOW HAMMERS OUT FOLK SONGS

By Julie Muhlstein Herald Columnist

Bob Nelson gets up early. By 4 a.m., he's often at work in his home office, which has so much equipment it looks like a recording studio. At 72, he's making good on a promise.

"It's a promise I made to myself years ago," said Nelson, a folk singer who lives in Everett with his wife, Judy.

I visited Nelson on Wednesday to see in person what keeps him so busy. He had sent e-mail explaining his efforts: "I started learning, collecting and singing folk songs when I was 13," he wrote. Now retired from his work as a carpenter, Nelson has time to devote to preserving the music he loves.

"I'm converting over 300 reel-to-reel tape recordings from analog to digital CDs. I also have over 400 cassette recordings," he said. "It's a long process. I've been at it seriously about five months, and have burned up four tape recorders."

Past meets future at Nelson's house, where shelves are loaded with boxes of old tapes. He also has a treasure trove of vinyl records, and a turntable to help him save the Northwest's vintage folk music for future generations.

He has yet to find a proper repository -- a university, library or music organization -- for the archives he's creating, which also include short biographies Nelson is writing about performers. "My goal is to preserve this material so that 50 or 100 years from now, some future researcher will have these songs available," he said. "Otherwise, they will die with me."

Traditional folk music is alive in his heart, and it's a big part of his history. In the 1950s and '60s, Nelson was caught up in the spirited folk scene in Seattle's University District. He performed around the region at hootenannies -- he calls them "hoots" -- jam sessions, coffeehouses and college concerts.

Back then, Nelson would haul with him a 60-pound Webcor reel-to-reel tape recorder, capturing performances of folk legends and obscure artists. "It was a working tool, that reel-to-reel. I'd take it to a hoot, then listen and practice," he said.

Nelson was an original and active member of the Pacific Northwest Folklore Society, founded in 1953 by the late Walt Robertson, Don Firth and others. In recent years, Nelson, Firth and Stewart Hendrickson have revived the Pacific Northwest Folklore Society (www.pnwfolklore.org). The group has sponsored folk music performances at the Everett Public Library and other venues.

"I'm having a lot of fun," said Nelson, who in 2007 recorded "Songs I Sing After Dark," a CD collection of traditional songs that includes "The Old Settler," the Ivar Haglund ballad that was printed on Ivar's restaurant place mats.

"I had basically hung it up for about 40 years while I was making a living and being a father," Nelson said of singing and performing. He's been happy to reconnect with artists he knew years ago. Today's folk scene "is very active," he said.

Although Nelson was among the founders of the Northwest Folklife Festival, he said he won't be at this weekend's event. Held annually over Memorial Day weekend at the Seattle Center, the festival has grown too big and too far from its roots for Nelson's taste. "I avoid it like the plague," he said.

That's not to say Nelson hasn't rubbed shoulders with folk music giants. The night Joan Baez played at the Seattle World's Fair in 1962, Nelson said Baez and a friend didn't want to stay at a downtown hotel. They ended up in the Seattle home of Nelson and his first wife, he said.

And Pete Seeger? "I talked to Peter about two weeks ago," Nelson said of the 90-year-old folk legend.

At home in Everett, Nelson feels blessed to have played a part in the Northwest's folk legacy. He's proud of himself for learning computer skills needed to save the music -- the songs of David Spence, Bill Higley, Walt Robinson and many more. "I was a carpenter and folk singer, and I had to become a techie," Nelson said.

He figures that compiling CDs, cross-indexing songs performed by several singers, and writing biographies will take at least two years.

"We don't want the music to die with us," Nelson said. "I can't die till it's done."

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, muhlstein@heraldnet.com.


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Subject: RE: Bob "Deckman" Nelson Interview
From: katlaughing
Date: 23 Oct 10 - 12:35 AM

Roope! What a wonderful *new* connection you've made. Thanks, Joe! That's a gem of a Mudcat story!!


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Subject: RE: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson Interview
From: open mike
Date: 23 Oct 10 - 02:35 AM

great news about you hammering out music, deckman!!
keep up the good work..

Laurel


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Subject: RE: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson Interview
From: gnu
Date: 23 Oct 10 - 07:51 AM

I second what what kat and Laurel said!


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Subject: RE: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson Interview
From: Rapparee
Date: 23 Oct 10 - 07:59 AM

Yeah, well...okay. I suppose it's alright to do what you're doing. Probably commie songs though...Joe McCarthy would not be pleased.


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Subject: RE: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson Interview
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 23 Oct 10 - 08:50 AM

Bravo Bob! It's a great thing that you are doing, valuable work. I envy you because back in the early 1960's I went collecting and gathered up a tape full of people who'd be considered 'source' singers and musicians. Later I loaned it to someone who was anxious to learn about the music -he said - but he brought it back with pop music recorded over it by his kids. Three of the people I had recorded were dead by then. I should have chased up the other three but I was too disheartened. You hung on to your stuff and now the Library will harvest the results and the general public will benefit. Well done Deckman. Burl.


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Subject: RE: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson Interview
From: kendall
Date: 23 Oct 10 - 09:19 AM

Good for you, Mate!


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Subject: RE: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson Interview
From: SINSULL
Date: 23 Oct 10 - 09:58 AM

Some Walt Robertson in there I hope. Well done, Bob or should I say doing?
Mary


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Subject: RE: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson Interview
From: Stewart
Date: 23 Oct 10 - 12:25 PM

Some of his Walt Robertson tapes are already on the web here.

Good work - keep it up Bob!

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson Interview
From: iancarterb
Date: 24 Oct 10 - 12:31 PM

I can't wait to see the list. I imagine that Stew is in that pile of tape, and Phil and Vivian Williams and other northwest heros who survive surprise today.
Carter


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Subject: RE: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson Interview
From: Deckman
Date: 24 Oct 10 - 01:13 PM

Actually ... most of my tape recordings were made in the early fifties into the sixties. This means that youngsters, like Stew, and Phil and Vivian were still in diapers! This project is so labor intensive that I estimate it will be a couple of more years before I'll have a complete catalog of my collection.

As the newspaper article menioned, sometimes the unexpected events resulting from this archive work is breathtaking. Yet when things happen, like when long lost family members re-unite, it makes it all worth it.

There's gotta' be song there somewhere ..... CHEERS, bob nelson


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Subject: RE: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson Interview
From: iancarterb
Date: 24 Oct 10 - 01:40 PM

Well, Bob... I remember hearing a few folkies at the Fair in '62, my first trip to the northwest, and 8 or 10 years later I found out by serendipitous meeting with Mike Nelson that it had been Tall Timber, including Mike and Phil and Vivian, no? '62 qualifies as early sixties, you old geezer, you.
Anyway, bless your heart for carrying the 60 pounder during the Early Daze of the Folk Scare. THere is hardly any serendipity like what comes from old tape.
Carter


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Subject: RE: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson Interview
From: Deckman
Date: 24 Oct 10 - 02:43 PM

I'm talking about the 1860's! (just kidding) bob


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Subject: RE: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson Interview
From: iancarterb
Date: 24 Oct 10 - 02:49 PM

That was the period between stone tablet and papyrus recording?


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Subject: RE: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson Interview
From: Deckman
Date: 24 Oct 10 - 03:26 PM

I've actually got three boxes of papyrus quarter inch virgin recording tapes left. Problem is I can't find anyone that wants them! bob


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Subject: RE: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson Interview
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 May 14 - 02:04 AM

2014 Deckman Interview

Here's a recent interview of Deckman, in which he reminisces about Pete Seeger, the FBI, folk music in Seattle, and lots of other things. He sings a few songs, too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CUrX0LFlbOg.

Here's what Bob says about the interview:
    Back on March 11th, Pushkara (Sally) Ashford interviewed me as part of a nationwide celebration of the life of the late Pete Seeger. Over the years, I've had a little contact with Pete. During the interview, I talk about my experiences with him and some of the impact that I think he had on us. Sally's daughter Wendy filmed the interview and I just received a good video copy of that interview. Modesty not withstanding, I think it's pretty good. I'm making some copies and sometime soon I'll be able to share it with a few friends. bob
During the interview, Bob makes mention of the Bob Nelson Collection of Folk Music - the collection is worth a look.


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Subject: RE: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson Interview
From: Janie
Date: 30 May 14 - 07:41 PM

Thanks Joe. And especially thank you, Bob. Wonderful and instructive interview.


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Subject: RE: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson Interview
From: ranger1
Date: 30 May 14 - 09:14 PM

Bob was the first Mudcatter I ever met in person, and he's been a huge help with the blog project that I've been working on. I'll be checking out that video when I'm a little less frazzled from work.


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Subject: RE: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson Interview
From: SINSULL
Date: 31 May 14 - 01:19 PM

I still have my $20 bill tucked away and always know where my next meal may come from. Bob is a treasure of knowledge. Track his threads for some examples.


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Subject: RE: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson Interview
From: gnu
Date: 31 May 14 - 02:39 PM

Ditto to all. A treasure.


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Subject: RE: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson Interview
From: gnu
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 02:23 PM

Freeresh.


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Subject: RE: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson Interview
From: Deckman
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 03:27 PM

It's kinda funny, in a strange sorta' way, but the older I get (and I'm doing that every day) the more I realize what an incredible period of history I witnessed. As I said in this interview that was done two months ago, I was far too young and dumb to appreciate what was going on.

What that drunken senator from Wisconsin did (Joe McCarthy) was so very much damaging, not just to Pete Seeger, but this enitre country that we still haven't recovered in some ways. All you have to remember is that just a few years ago we had another charactor as our Attorney General named "Ashcroft" who advised us to "spy on our neighbors".

The more I re-visit what I said in that interview, the things that I wish that I had said. Live recording are like that ... "If only I had said" ... etc.

I am left with yet another strong thought about Pete's legacy, and that is "GRACE." Look at the grace that he demonstrated to all us though those terrible times.

... makes me humble ... bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson Interview
From: Janie
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 04:24 PM

Ahhhh....as well said as what you said during the interview, Bob.

You are a national treasure in your own right.


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Subject: RE: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson Interview
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 02 Jun 14 - 02:58 PM

Thanks for posting this, Joe!

SRS


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