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Obit: Tim Wallace 7/26/1949 - 3/29/2015

CupOfTea 04 Apr 15 - 09:33 AM
Phil Cooper 04 Apr 15 - 11:32 AM
Phil Cooper 04 Apr 15 - 11:32 AM
Waddon Pete 09 Apr 15 - 08:04 AM
CupOfTea 09 Apr 15 - 11:32 AM
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Subject: Obit: Tim Wallace 7/26/1949 - 3/29/2015
From: CupOfTea
Date: 04 Apr 15 - 09:33 AM

The passing of Tim Wallace, singer of a huge variety of songs, has hit the Cleveland folk music community a serious blow that was softened by the extraordinary thing that happened in the last 17 days of his life, when friends, musicians and family filled his hospice room to overflowing. The tribute to Tim's humor, brilliance, silly and loving nature was a uniquely wonderful thing to experience. Not a widely known name, though his band, The Smokin Fez Monkeys, had played jug band festivals in France and the US, the Ark in Ann Arbor, and were regulars at Cleveland's live music hotspot, the Barking Spider.

St. Patrick's Day - the date the Plain Dealer/ coverage started - the suite he was in was overflowing. I didn't get there until 7 pm, after work, by which time much carousing had been done. Particularly vivid was this singer of Irish songs who came from long time family association with the Clancy Brothers, belting out the appropriate line in "Finnegan's Wake" where Gusti left a hole for him to well, be Tim.

His sense of the absurd, wildly comic, comically tragic, bawdy, comically bawdy was his fame and yet, his love for the traditional songs of Ireland, Scotland and England was a big part of who he was as well. His Fez Monkeys band mate Jim observed something to the effect "he was the most brilliant person I ever knew with a complete lack of ambition."

(The article by his friend Chuck Yarborough,) was most of the front page of the Sunday The Plain Dealer on March 22 - in color, above the fold - is (edited) below, since links stop working eventually, and this is remarkable story. The link leads to some wonderful pictures, though. There are also some video links on Folknet's Facebook page Extraordinarily poignant was the video of him singing, from his hospice bed "The Parting Glass."
Tim Wallace's friends turn the loved singer-songwriter's final days into a living Irish wake

WESTLAKE, Ohio - Cancer is going to win the battle. Seems the bastard always does. But it's going to be a hollow victory, because in his remaining days, the spirit, the guile, the guts, the humor and the very love that is Tim Wallace has won the war. You know the Tim McGraw song, "Live Like You Were Dying"?' Pshaw. Wallace and his friends in the Irish-Celtic-Scottish-jug-band-Folknet-acoustic-music world are showing us all how to die like you were living.
        This bright Tuesday afternoon, the anniversary of the day St. Patrick reportedly drove the snakes out of Ireland, was the first time since he was 16 that the 65-year-old Elyria native had not had a St. Patrick's Day gig. Renowned for clever songwriting, a deep baritone voice, his love and knowledge of Irish, Celtic and Scottish songs, Wallace is used to being in demand everywhere and everywhen. Here in Room 184 of the pristine but homey place where people go to die, the tears are there. Of course they are. But they are eclipsed by the laughter, the music, the newly devised cocktails (methadone and Jameson's can ease a lot of physical pain) and the hugs in what came to be known as Timstock. Tim Wallace had one more St. Patrick's Day gig on his itinerary. A steady throng of Wallace's friends have filled Room 184 -- they had to move him to the larger suite to accommodate them all -- since the previous Friday, March 13, a day when it seemed his luck had run out.

Jim Schafer, a lifelong friend and fellow musician, had been there that day. Schafer had to leave in the early afternoon for a recording session, and was convinced he'd seen his friend alive for the last time.
Wallace had the sallow green of death on his face, Schafer said. Seven months of hospitalization in a vain attempt to defeat the lymphoma that had invaded Wallace's vertebra were coming to the inevitable conclusion. "And then a miracle happened,'' Schafer said. The "miracle'' is that parade of friends, fans and especially fellow musicians who trooped into the room. The man in the bed who'd been surrounded by tubes and the specter of death was instead reveling in the presence of his "family.'' The party that first night lasted till after midnight. Wallace, who till then had literally been starving himself, perhaps in a bid just to get it over with, had his color back, was eating, laughing, joking, singing and playing. The party the next night began early and lasted just as long. So it went through the weekend, through Monday and into Tuesday, and as of this writing, has continued.

The visitors really are the honor roll of Cleveland singer-songwriters -- Alex Bevan, Robin Stratton, Gusti Krauss, Jim Stone (of Wallace's globe-trotting jug band, the Smokin' Fez Monkeys), Andy Allan (his childhood friend and bandmate in the Hooligans), Avin Loki Baird, Charley and Jackie Brown, Dave Mann Wolf, Paul Kovac (of Hillbilly Idol), Steve Szabo, harpist Sam Rettman, Rettman's wife, Jen Maurer . . . I could go on and on. In three hours, more than 25 people filled the room with their laughs and love. As soon as one would leave, another one -- or two, or three, or five -- would arrive. "I was surprised out of my shoes. These people all love me,'' he said, stroking the cat he'd not seen in seven months, Butthead. "His name is Mr. Lucky!'' said Barb Hood, who was serving as the kitty's guardian. "He's Lucky I don't call him Butthead,'' growled Wallace, and the room -- including Wallace -- burst into laughter. More than one person called it an Irish wake with the guest of honor alive and, if not well, at least giving as well as he got. Aided and abetted, in true Irish fashion, by the bottle of Jameson's on the dresser being kept company by scotch, wine and Fireball. This day, this very special day, with half the crowd in green, the Irish songs were in full force. And -- for the record -- not a "Danny Boy'' among them. As Hillbilly Idol's Kovac said when traveling troubadour Gusti put out a call for suggestions, "that's like yelling 'Freebird' at a rock concert!'' Now Gusti -- a lady of indeterminate age but of very determined will with a voice as strong as Ethel Merman's -- noted that we'd not heard HER version. And nor would we! Here, where people go to die, tears are eclipsed by laughter and music of Tim Wallace's last St. Patrick's Day gig.

The Irish music is special to Wallace because it really embodies who he is as a singer-songwriter. He's known for his nearly 50 years worth of clever, funny and sometimes (OK, often) bawdy musical stories. But there is more than that. "You learn not just the facts, but the feelings,'' he said. "Especially in the Irish songs.'' A song might get its start with a man's profession, Wallace said, but it ends up being not about how he works at the job, but how the job works at him. "It's how he felt, and you drink it in!'' said Wallace, who first picked up a guitar when he was 15 and really, hasn't put one down since. But those lyrics are all rooted in something deeper. "When I was a student in high school, Peter, Paul and Mary awakened me to what was going on in the world with Vietnam and all that,'' he said. "That was a formative period in my life. ''Music became his avenue to "do something about it.'' "Basically, I could stand up and be counted,'' he said. So his stereo was tuned to the music of the folk genre, to Peter, Paul and Mary, to Dylan. "I learned the value of lyric early on,'' he said. "I love the singer simply telling about his or her experience,'' he said. "That's better than a lullaby. Every song is a work of art.''

Of course, he's no stranger to art. A gifted graphic designer, Wallace also is even an inventor of sorts. The "jinglestick,'' for example was used by his Smokin' Fez Monkeys jug band bandmate, Bill Drake. Oh, and the celebrated "fartiphone.'' Yep, "fartiphone.'' It's a couple of plastic tubes, kind of a poor man's trombone, that when played sounds like, well, you can guess from the name. The instruments were a big hit when the Monkeys played France back in 2009. That was the celebrated FIMU -- the International University Music Festival, in Belfort, France. But the tools of the trade weren't the biggest hits. My, no! Nope, that would be when the band followed a pretty good rock 'n' roll band onto a huge stage fit for the 60,000 or so in attendance with a jug-band version of the disco hit "I Will Survive.''

"Tim and Petunia'' -- all the Fez Monkeys have "Monkey names,'' and Princess Petunia Lee Petalbottom is the group's fiddler and a vocalist -- "put together a quick set list of more upbeat things we thought worked for the set,'' said Jim Stone, a guitarist and singer in the Monkeys whose "Monkey name'' is "Uh, Clem.'' "It was OK,'' he said. "A lot of our stuff is funny, but only if you speak English. But toward the end of the set, we did our jug- band version of 'I Will Survive,' and people just went crazy. They were dancing, singing along, boogieing!''

"Music is a way to find these friends and keep them,'' Wallace said with a fragile sweep of his hand to encompass those who'd come to say they love him. And like his friend Schafer, he sees the miracle. "I'm fighting cancer, and I believe this is the only way to do it,'' he said, and the laughter and music began again, before things got maudlin. "Do I SOUND like I'm dying of cancer?'' he bellowed. "No,'' sassed Gusti, equally loud, and with a distinct Irish lilt. "You sound like you're dying of a lack of a drink, lad!'' With that, the jokes were off:
"Murphy, did you not know that your wife fell out of the car a mile back?''
"Thank God! I thought I was going deaf.''
"Two Irishmen walked out of a bar . . . Hey! It could happen!''
More songs followed, more laughter, more Jameson's, more jokes. And then Carol Mehal showed with her bagpipes. Wallace's friend Schafer, who had returned for another day, joked about how his ears couldn't stand such an assault, and stepped outside the room. Maybe that's why he thinks he left, but it wasn't the whole reason. The sadness in his eyes was so real, you could almost touch it. "See?'' he asked. "It really IS a miracle. The doctors are surprised, I'm surprised. Everybody is surprised.'' And then, as the pipes blew "Amazing Grace,'' he said what Wallace's friends, the doctors, the hospice staff, the other patients and their families -- who've not complained an iota about the days of ruckus from Room 184 - are also thinking: "There's too much cancer. It can't last.'' No. It can't. You can say that, and you can say goodbye to Tim Wallace when the time comes, as it inevitably will. But don't say the cancer won.
Don't dare say the bastard won.

Friends and family to remember folk singer Tim Wallace with a tribute concert
By Chuck Yarborough, The Plain Dealer (edited)

Much-loved folk singer Tim Wallace, star of 'Timstock,' dies of cancer

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Tim Wallace spent his life making music, and died surrounded it. So it's fitting that the Elyria native folk singer who died last Sunday after a lengthy battle with lymphoma asked his friends to remember him with music. It's kind of a continuation of what came to be known as "Timstock,'' where local musicians like Alex Bevan, Avin Loki Baird, Gusti, Jen Maurer, Jim Schafer and more gathered around his bedside at the Ames Hospice House in Westlake to speed their friend on his way. Accordingly, there will be nothing as mundane or typical as a funeral or a viewing for Wallace, who was 65 when he died.

"According to Tim's wishes, there will be no separate viewing or memorial service following his death,'' said Schafer, himself a local musician and one of the people handling Wallace's affairs. "He said Timstock was his wake. His family concurs.'' Schafer said that in the next few months, his "close music friends are planning grand tribute concert for Tim.'' Plans are for the tribute to include some sort of memorial itself, but details - the time and location, for example - "are sketchy because we have only just started planning the event,'' Schafer said.


I've never seen anything like the outpouring of love, joy and appreciation for a person that "Timstock" was. The folks at Hospice had never seen anything like us. The fame -and front page coverage !!! - were what Tim deserved. Additionally, it showed the truth of the folk music community (with firm embrace of the singer-songwriters) with a bright light on it's very best. A unique end to a unique man.

Joanne in Cleveland

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Subject: RE: Obit: Tim Wallace 7/26/1949 - 3/29/2015
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 04 Apr 15 - 11:32 AM

I remember the of his that you gave Susan. Sounds like you sent him off in style.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Tim Wallace 7/26/1949 - 3/29/2015
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 04 Apr 15 - 11:32 AM

Should have included the word tape in the last post.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Tim Wallace 7/26/1949 - 3/29/2015
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 09 Apr 15 - 08:04 AM

What a way to go! I have added Tim to the "In Memoriam" thread. My condolences to all who know and love him.



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Subject: RE: Obit: Tim Wallace 7/26/1949 - 3/29/2015
From: CupOfTea
Date: 09 Apr 15 - 11:32 AM

Thanks Peter-

On Mudcat I read so many obits of wonderful people I never knew from the far side of the Atlantic. Too few people knew Tim, though sharing his last bit of a well lived life is all I can do now, his songs are out there, and his band remains as a trio for now.

I remember how it felt when I only discovered Kate Wolf and Stan Rogers after they died. Regret for what I'd missed didn't keep me from loving what they'd been.

Don't want him in heaven singing You Don't Even Care

Joanne in Cleveland

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