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Obit: Kendall Morse (21 April 2021)

Related threads:
Kendall's CD - Beginner's Luck (177)
Review: Kendall's return performance (30)
Kendall's an Author, too (19)
BS: Father fell down the well (27)
Kendall In Concert (65)
Kendall's 2008 CD: I Remember Loving You (86)
Review: New web site: http://kendallmorse.com/ (21) (closed)
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wysiwyg 22 Nov 21 - 04:07 AM
GUEST,Charlie Ipcar 02 Aug 21 - 09:35 AM
Rapparee 01 Aug 21 - 09:27 PM
Jeri 01 Aug 21 - 08:49 PM
maeve 01 Aug 21 - 08:40 PM
Stilly River Sage 01 Aug 21 - 05:53 PM
GUEST 28 Apr 21 - 10:48 PM
saulgoldie 26 Apr 21 - 07:24 PM
Charlie Baum 26 Apr 21 - 07:07 PM
Rex 26 Apr 21 - 12:29 PM
Richard Atkins 25 Apr 21 - 09:35 PM
GUEST,Olddude 25 Apr 21 - 04:18 PM
Benjamin 25 Apr 21 - 07:38 AM
GUEST,Seamus kennedy 25 Apr 21 - 02:46 AM
Sandra in Sydney 24 Apr 21 - 10:23 PM
bbc 24 Apr 21 - 09:06 PM
Joe Offer 24 Apr 21 - 04:37 PM
Stilly River Sage 24 Apr 21 - 12:31 PM
Megan L 24 Apr 21 - 04:28 AM
GUEST 24 Apr 21 - 04:02 AM
voyager 23 Apr 21 - 08:40 PM
GUEST,keberoxu 23 Apr 21 - 07:35 PM
Eric the Viking 23 Apr 21 - 06:56 PM
Bat Goddess 23 Apr 21 - 04:47 PM
Charley Noble 23 Apr 21 - 01:50 PM
Charley Noble 23 Apr 21 - 01:38 PM
Sandra in Sydney 23 Apr 21 - 11:03 AM
Jeri 22 Apr 21 - 11:08 PM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Apr 21 - 09:19 PM
Jeri 22 Apr 21 - 08:40 PM
GUEST,Dani 22 Apr 21 - 06:26 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 22 Apr 21 - 04:46 PM
robomatic 22 Apr 21 - 02:26 PM
Sarah the flute 22 Apr 21 - 02:25 PM
The Sandman 22 Apr 21 - 02:24 PM
voyager 22 Apr 21 - 01:43 PM
maeve 22 Apr 21 - 12:34 PM
DonMeixner 22 Apr 21 - 12:24 PM
Megan L 22 Apr 21 - 05:07 AM
GUEST,Bradfordian 22 Apr 21 - 04:09 AM
Hrothgar 22 Apr 21 - 04:04 AM
BrooklynJay 22 Apr 21 - 12:14 AM
Richard Atkins 21 Apr 21 - 10:23 PM
frogprince 21 Apr 21 - 10:18 PM
GUEST 21 Apr 21 - 09:50 PM
JennieG 21 Apr 21 - 07:17 PM
EBarnacle 21 Apr 21 - 06:34 PM
Brian Peters 21 Apr 21 - 06:30 PM
ClaireBear 21 Apr 21 - 05:28 PM
Stilly River Sage 21 Apr 21 - 04:48 PM
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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall Morse (21 April 2021)
From: wysiwyg
Date: 22 Nov 21 - 04:07 AM

(((Becca and all of Kendall's Lovies)))

-S-


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall Morse (21 April 2021)
From: GUEST,Charlie Ipcar
Date: 02 Aug 21 - 09:35 AM

Saturday, July 31, 2021, was the Kendall Morse Remembrance Day at the Sail, Steam & Power Museum in Rockland, Maine. The weather was perfect and there were many stories and songs. Here's a link to a Facebook album of some photos that Judy Barrows and I took at this event: Click here!


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall Morse (21 April 2021)
From: Rapparee
Date: 01 Aug 21 - 09:27 PM

It brought back memories.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall Morse (21 April 2021)
From: Jeri
Date: 01 Aug 21 - 08:49 PM

It's nice his friends had this chance.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall Morse (21 April 2021)
From: maeve
Date: 01 Aug 21 - 08:40 PM

That was a very private, invitation only, gathering. It was not intended for public consumption.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall Morse (21 April 2021)
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 01 Aug 21 - 05:53 PM

Today Charlie Ipcar posted a set of photos to the Kendall Morse Remembrance, July 31, 2021 on his Facebook page. It was at the Sail, Power & Steam Museum, Rockland, ME, photographed by Charlie Ipcar and Judy Barrows.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall Morse (21 April 2021)
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Apr 21 - 10:48 PM

Kind of you, Linn, to share that link to the Portland Press Herald obit.

Manuel


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall Morse (21 April 2021)
From: saulgoldie
Date: 26 Apr 21 - 07:24 PM

Hehehe..."All my life!" Hehehe!

Saul


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall Morse (21 April 2021)
From: Charlie Baum
Date: 26 Apr 21 - 07:07 PM

At least now when asked, "Have you lived in Maine all your life?" the answer can be "ayup" instead of "not yet."

May memories of him bless us forever.

--Charlie Baum


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall Morse (21 April 2021)
From: Rex
Date: 26 Apr 21 - 12:29 PM

So sorry to learn that another of our early 'Catters is gone. Kendall did much for music in his time.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall Morse (21 April 2021)
From: Richard Atkins
Date: 25 Apr 21 - 09:35 PM

A special service with so many tributes on Mudcat cafe as well. His songs relived with his wonderful voice. So lucky to meet him at home on his UK birthday trip for a true character meet with my regard for Kendall . He enjoyed my old cars but stated on my smoking " wise up and forget the butt" I hope many happy memories remain in future for so many. Thank you Kendall


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: GUEST,Olddude
Date: 25 Apr 21 - 04:18 PM

My dear friend, you will be sadly missed. Thank you for all the years of friendship
Dan


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: Benjamin
Date: 25 Apr 21 - 07:38 AM

I remember so many of Kendall's arguments. In his own words to me, "I have more buttons than the space shuttle." In the end, it was easy to see that he was coming from a good place. Much of it came from his passion for music. He had much to contribute in his music and contributed much to the conversation here. Captain Morse, thank you for sharing your passion through your music, stories, and your arguments. Your contributions will stay with us always!


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: GUEST,Seamus kennedy
Date: 25 Apr 21 - 02:46 AM

Farewell Captain; it was a privilege and a pleasure getting to know you, share songs and stories, and enjoying your company. Oh, and your guitar-picking too.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 24 Apr 21 - 10:23 PM

Joe's link to the song leads to Kendall's Youtube channel which has all tracks from 'Seagulls & Summer People' & 'Lights upon the Shore'


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: bbc
Date: 24 Apr 21 - 09:06 PM

Thanks, Joe!

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Apr 21 - 04:37 PM

Kendall was very proud to be a friend of U. Utah Phillips. Utah had a collection of his songs titled Starlight on the Rails. It was published as a songbook in 1973, and expanded and reissued by his son Duncan in 2011. In 2014, a collections of Utah's recordings came out as a four-CD set titled Starlight on the Rails: A Songbook. Most of the tracks on the collection were sung by Utah, but Utah gave a spoken introduction for "Ashes on the Sea," and it was the voice of Kendall Morse singing the song.

Kendall lost his voice due to throat cancer, and for a long time he couldn't sing or tell stories. Eventually, he was able to whisper his stories into a microphone, and occasionally sometimes whisper out a song. But he didn't perform publicly. Utah Phillips changed that - he invited Kendall to swap stories with him on stage in Grass Valley, California, and Kendall and Jacqui came here for the concert on April 8, 2006. Amos Jessup drove up from San Diego for the concert, and it was a delightful evening. I think it was one of the happiest days of Kendall's life. And it was so nice to welcome Kendall and Jacqui to my home and to take them on a Sierra tour.


Thread #23622   Message #264123
Posted By: Joe Offer
25-Jul-00 - 03:55 AM
Thread Name: Lyr ADD Ashes on the Sea (Utah Phillips)
Subject: ADD: Ashes on The Sea ^^

ASHES ON THE SEA
(Bruce Phillips)

What is this tune I hear repeating
Sprung from the careless seed you've sown?
Our songs will come and go like seasons,
And bloom or fade all on their own.*

CHORUS:
Now I know I will not find you
You're gone from all but memory.
For I am told that one who loves you
Has strewn your ashes on the sea.

I stepped outside for just a moment
To turn around and look on my own face
Who was** that shadow just behind me
That old man I reach out to embrace.

It's one thing to look upon a picture
Another still to read the pages through
Perhaps to search along the wayside
Hoping I might find a trace of you.

Your dust cloud still drifts across the footprints
Your best friend's still standing there alone
Your boxcars still keep the lovers parted
Your little boys still run away from home.

What is this tune you hear repeating
Sprung from the careless seeds I've sown?
Our songs will come and go like seasons
And bloom or fade all on their own.

LAST CHORUS (sing twice):
Now I know I will not find you
You're gone from all but memory.
For I am told that one who loves you
Has strewn your ashes on the sea.

Tune: similar to Lorena

JRO & CB ^^

*alternate: And bloom off and die on their own.
**alternate: You are

Source: Starlight on the Rails and Other Songs, a songbook by U.Utah Phillips 1973 and 2011 - altered to reflect the way Kendall sang it.

Kendall Morse singing, with intro by Utah Phillips:



Oh, and here's Kendall singing "Hobo's Lullaby" in 1983: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMld7JFnITU


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 24 Apr 21 - 12:31 PM

Here's the full text from the Press Herald obit that Bat Goddess linked.

Kendall Morse, renowned Maine humorist and folk singer, dies at 86



Kendall Morse, a renowned Maine humorist, folk singer and Grammy-nominated musician, died Wednesday. He was 86.

Morse, who most recently lived in Scarborough, spent more than 40 years performing around the country and recording his songs and stories. In 1995, he was inducted into the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2009, he received a Grammy nomination for his role as co-producer of the folk album “Singing Through the Hard Times: A Tribute to Utah Phillips.”

“He was a legend to the world, but he was always my dad,” said Elaine Hodnette, the oldest of his three daughters.

Morse grew up in Machias, one of nine children. He was a 1952 graduate of Machias High School. From 1953 to 1957, he served in the Coast Guard on a vessel based in Portland.

Following his discharge, Morse joined the then-Maine Department of Sea and Shore, now the Department of Marine Resources. He rose through the ranks to captain a patrol boat that protected Penobscot Bay. He held the post until the early to mid-1960s.

Morse then worked for the U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife’s National Marine Fisheries Service. According to his obituary, he was responsible for enforcement of international fishing regulations and the Marine Mammals Protection Act. He retired in 1974 because of a back injury, his daughter said.

Hodnette said her father knew at age 6 that he wanted to be a conservation officer. “He was a conservationist. He was a sailor. He had a great love for the sea,” she said.

In the mid-1960s, Morse had chance meeting on the waterfront with folk singer and songwriter Gordon Bok, who encouraged him to pursue a career in music. When Morse retired, he took up storytelling and specialized in Maine humor.

His passion for music began at age 16, when he received a secondhand guitar for Christmas. He taught himself how to play and slowly built a collection of stories and songs. He occasionally played gigs around town.

In his early years, he played bluegrass with his brothers, who sang and played the guitar, Hodnette said.

“When I was a kid, this was such an amazing way to grow up,” she said. “We would get together at my Nana’s camp every Saturday night and the boys would hoot and holler. They would play into the dark hours of the night. … Oh, my God, it was a glorious way to grow up. Music was the essence of our family.”

Morse began telling stories in the early 1970s and hosted a show on Maine Public Television called “In the Kitchen.” He wrote a book by the same name.

He also released a few albums, including “Seagulls and Summer People” and “Lights Along the Shore.” He performed in venues across the country and shared the stage with veteran storytellers such as Tim Sample and Marshall Dodge, and musicians including Bok and the late Utah Phillips.

Morse was a three-time recipient of the Folk Singer of the Year award by the Maine Country Music Association.

Hodnette said he was a great speaker, who fed on the energy from the crowd.

“He loved telling stories,” she said. “Dad was so incredibly well-known. He’s going to leave a massive hole in the universe.”

Morse fought a yearslong battle with throat cancer that included at least nine operations to remove vocal cord tumors since 2004. The cancer took away his ability to sing, though it didn’t stop him from getting on stage. His voice was reduced to a hoarse whisper.

“It was extraordinary,” Hodnette said. “On occasion, he still found himself on stage. He couldn’t sing, but he could speak. And people forgave him for that and were still entranced by him.”

Morse authored three books. The second, “Father Fell Down the Well,” is a collection of traditional Down East stories from his years performing. He recently finished writing the third, “True Enough,” which will be published posthumously.

His daughter Rebecca Morse said her father accomplished a lot in his life.

“In his later years, he kind of became this curmudgeon old grump, but given the opportunity to perform or make someone laugh, it was like flipping a light switch,” she said. “He became this persona, and he went out of his way to make somebody laugh every day. It was really satisfying to him to be able to do that.”

Morse was remembered his daughters Thursday as a strict but loving father who was always there for them. Another daughter, Deb Roberts, said he was a wonderful father and they talked about everything.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: Megan L
Date: 24 Apr 21 - 04:28 AM

This morning i was looking for Kendall on youtube this is not one of his tales but it seemed appropriate for he has passed to us the tending of the folk lights Let the lower lights be burning


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Apr 21 - 04:02 AM

Sail on in Peace, Kendall.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: voyager
Date: 23 Apr 21 - 08:40 PM

when we have the obits of Mudcat stalwarts, such as Captain Kendall Morse, the response is mostly somber with respects and condolences to family and friends.

I celebrate the Captain's prowess with song and story and cheer the path he has laid before us.

sing out

voyager
Stories and Song | http://www.stories-and-songs.us


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 23 Apr 21 - 07:35 PM

Thanks everybody for those obit links --
they answered a great many questions.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: Eric the Viking
Date: 23 Apr 21 - 06:56 PM

Sad news.Condolences.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 23 Apr 21 - 04:47 PM

I think the Bangor Daily News obit (which was in print later the same day Kendall died) may have been one of their pre-written obits for Maine characters, I mean, prominent Mainers.

Here's the one from yesterday's Portland Press Herald —
Kendall's Obit

Linn


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Apr 21 - 01:50 PM

Here's a link to a set of photos of Kendall that I posted on the Mudcat Facebook forum: Click here!

Charlie Ipcar


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Apr 21 - 01:38 PM

I'll think of Kendall the next time I play the "Outside Track." It's the one song he always requested that I sing.

I remember well when Judy and I were working with the Portland Folk Club and had invited Utah Phillips, with Kendall as the opening set. That was the first time they had ever met, and it got better!
Good-bye and fare ye well, old friend.

Charlie Ipcar


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 23 Apr 21 - 11:03 AM

I went looking for my 2 CDs & found I had 5 - what a treasure his family & friends & the folk world have lost.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: Jeri
Date: 22 Apr 21 - 11:08 PM

I see where he had a car accident, but "after some uncomfortable years due to the car accident " is reading a lot into things that wasn't there. As far as I know, he got banged up, healed, and didn't have any lasting effects or "uncomfortable years". Up to the last few years, I'm pretty sure he was doing things that were physically rough on a 30 year old.
He didn't do technology (if you know what I mean, you know. If you don't, I'm not yet over the trauma of trying to explain how to "highlight" text, or what "File Manager" in ancient Windows was) over the phone), but restored quite a few old cars. I got a ride in the model ? (I don't want to type the wrong letter in), with his mother's beautiful and very heavy lap blanket. I enjoyed sleeping in his motor home when I stayed overnight at SINSULL's after a house concert.
He always wanted me to play Ashoken Farewell when I was there with my fiddle. I met him when Sandy Paton suggested I might be a good traveling companion when we went to NOMAD one year. He drove me crazy, but that's not a hard thing. We stopped into a diner (was it the "Collins" diner?) on the way down, and a woman came up to the table where Sandy, Caroline, Kendall, and - was Kathy Westra there? - and I were sitting, and totally fan-girled at him. "Are you Kendall Morse? I LOVED your TV show!"
And I gave him a cheap banjo I had. He eventually got a nice one, but I wouldn't let him give mine back, so I won.

And then, there was the Getaway, and the interaction between him and Max.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Apr 21 - 09:19 PM

Goodbye and God Bless. A great man.

All my sympathy to Jacqui, remembering sessions with you in Hertford, before you had the happy meeting with the Captain.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: Jeri
Date: 22 Apr 21 - 08:40 PM

"Car accident!?" WTF!?

Dani, that's obituary Stilly River Sage posted the text to up above.

Trying to remember the last time I saw him, and where. His house? A house concert? I don't know that it matters, but I wish I could remember.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: GUEST,Dani
Date: 22 Apr 21 - 06:26 PM

Just came across this actual obituary: https://obituaries.bangordailynews.com/obituary/captain-kendall-morse-1082116867


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 22 Apr 21 - 04:46 PM


HEAVEN IS A HAPPIER PLACE


Sincerely,
Gargoyle

mudcat has been blessed for decades


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: robomatic
Date: 22 Apr 21 - 02:26 PM

I did not know Kendall, but as a former resident of Massachusetts and a big fan of Maine performers such as Gordon Bok, I will obtain some familiarity with Kendall by his works.

I still remember the Simas Kudirka incident.

May those close to him by friendship, fellowship and kinship obtain comfort in his memory.

Thanks you for this notice and these tokens of experience.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: Sarah the flute
Date: 22 Apr 21 - 02:25 PM

Oh this is sad news - he was a mudcat legend. RIP Kendall


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Apr 21 - 02:24 PM

I never met him, but my condolences to all his friends and family.RIP.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: voyager
Date: 22 Apr 21 - 01:43 PM

Rick Fielding, Art Thieme, Barry Finn, Micca, Katspaw, LaMarca Kendall Morse ....

a few of the stones I have followed on the path of my Mudcat journey.

Fair winds Captain.
Thank you for your life in music

voyager


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: maeve
Date: 22 Apr 21 - 12:34 PM

Elaine, Becca, Jacqui, Sinsull, and the rest of the family- Thank you for helping my friend of more than 30 years to live his life. Thank you for sharing Kendall with the rest of us.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: DonMeixner
Date: 22 Apr 21 - 12:24 PM

It was my great pleasure to know Kendall, share some songs and scotch with him, and I will miss his expert barbs and gentle jibes.

Don Meixner


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: Megan L
Date: 22 Apr 21 - 05:07 AM

May the winds be kind and the seas be gentle wherever his spirit sails. condolances to his family


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: GUEST,Bradfordian
Date: 22 Apr 21 - 04:09 AM

RIP Kendal. You enriched our lives with your music and humour; and we will still enjoy it through your CDs. Condolences to family.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: Hrothgar
Date: 22 Apr 21 - 04:04 AM

Lovely man, great singer. It was a privilege to have met him.

Condolences to the family.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: BrooklynJay
Date: 22 Apr 21 - 12:14 AM

Farewell Kendall.

You embodied everything positive about Mudcat.

You are truly and absolutely irreplaceable.

Bon voyage, Captain.


Jay


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: Richard Atkins
Date: 21 Apr 21 - 10:23 PM

Rip Kendall with fond memories of a special man indeed. His surprise Victory visit on his birthday in 2011 was special bonus visiting us after. He did enjoy playing with my old cars nearly restored now. A special man gone, but I think Dan Shultz on his post has covered all that I think now. Thank you Kendall for the fond memories and advice


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: frogprince
Date: 21 Apr 21 - 10:18 PM

I've dropped away from the Mudcat for a long time. Something made me sign in tonight. I was at least fortunate enough to visit with the Captain a couple of times. Another good one gone...

          Dean


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Apr 21 - 09:50 PM

He was a treasure … I always enjoyed him. bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: JennieG
Date: 21 Apr 21 - 07:17 PM

Sad news to wake up to this morning......condolences to Kendall's family and friends. Wish I could have had the opportunity to meet him.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: EBarnacle
Date: 21 Apr 21 - 06:34 PM

Hoisting a Dark and Stormy to you, Kendall.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 21 Apr 21 - 06:30 PM

"I’ve woken up every day of my life with a song in my head. And the other day, that song was ’76 Trombones.’ Now that’s gotta mean something.”

Brilliant.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: ClaireBear
Date: 21 Apr 21 - 05:28 PM

Fair winds and following seas, Cap'n. I will miss you forever. Your health will be drunk with much single malt this night, I promise you that.

Heartfelt sympathies to Becca, to Jacqui and to everyone who I know who has know and loved Kendall. Let's hope we're wrong about that whole "no afterlife" thing, because up there is beginning to seem like a hell of a lot better party than the one we're trying to keep going on THIS plane.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Kendall (21 April 2021)
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 21 Apr 21 - 04:48 PM

Renowned Maine humorist Capt. Kendall Morse dies at 86

There is an ad blocker on the site so you might have to disable them or use the "Just Read" extension to get past it. In the Bangor Daily News.

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine humorist, Coast Guard veteran, author and Grammy-nominated musician Capt. Kendall Morse has died. He was 86.

Morse died early Wednesday morning, according to his daughter Elaine Hodnett, of Arundel, who called her father “an extraordinary man.”

Morse gained fame in the 1970s and ‘80s when homegrown Maine storytellers and musicians began to reflect Maine back at itself on records and TV. He helped define Maine’s laconic Yankee view of itself, telling stories in the classic Maine form without fanfare or cutesy smiles. He would take his time getting to droll punchlines and leave it to the listener to figure out if it was funny or not.

“He brought the lore of Maine to the forefront and made it mean something,” said Dave Rowe, a folk singer who shared the stage with Morse many times. “He knew our stories — hell, he made up most of them.”

Morse once told the story of a hunter who stumbled out of the woods one fall day, upset and dragging his hunting buddy’s dead body. Coming upon an old farmer, he said he didn’t know how it happened but he’d just shot the man.

“I could have sworn he was a deer,” the hunter told the old man. “I can’t believe he’s dead.”

The old farmer took a look at the deceased man and said, “Well, he might have lived if you hadn’t gutted him out.”

Born into a family of storytellers in Machias, Morse came by his Down East wit naturally. His uncle Curt, especially, was known far and wide for his “inability to tell the truth,” Morse often said.

Before ending up on stage, Morse first spent time in the U.S. Coast Guard. He had a brush with Cold War history in 1970 while serving aboard the cutter Vigilant off Martha’s Vineyard. In the event known as the “Kudirka Incident,” a Lithuanian sailor from a Soviet fishing vessel tried to defect by jumping aboard. The Coast Guard commander in Boston allowed KGB agents on the Vigilant to retrieve the wayward sailor and was roundly criticized.

“Our captain was furious, as was our whole crew,” Morse said decades after the incident. “Some time later, the Russians allowed him to come to America. Apparently, his mother was an American citizen, so all’s well that ends well, except for that gutless admiral.”

After his Coast Guard service, Morse worked as a coastal warden for what is now the Maine Department of Marine Resources, enforcing fishing regulations on Penobscot Bay. The job had him living aboard a boat in the bay with two other men, year round. The winters were brutal and it kept him away from his wife and children for long stretches of time.

“When I’d come home they were shy about coming near me and two days later, when I left, they were upset,” Morse told the Bangor Daily News In 2015. “So, I finally decided that it was not a job for a married man.”

He eventually became a fisheries enforcement agent for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. When Morse retired from that job he became a full-time musician, storyteller and author.

It was a long and fruitful second act.

Morse performed regularly with other Maine humorists and musicians such as Marshall Dodge, Tim Sample and Gordon Bok. Unlike many performers in the genre who played the part of the “Old Salt,” Morse was the genuine article.

In the 1970’s, he hosted a Maine Public television show featuring Maine storytellers called “In the Kitchen” where he swapped tall tales with the likes of Joe Perham and Bill Gagnon.

In addition to an endless trove of dry stories, Morse also had a fine, clear folk-singing voice and could play both guitar and banjo. He made records for the Folk-Legacy label out of Connecticut. His disc “Seagulls and Summer People,” was recorded live, capturing one of his best known tunes, “Moose Turd Pie.”

His 1981 humor book “Stories Told in the Kitchen” is a benchmark of the genre and features illustrations by Tim Sample. Morse performed a series of shows all over Scotland in 1990 and was invited to perform at the Cecil Sharp Folk Club in London.

Along with his then-wife Jacqui, he was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2009 for the track they contributed to a Utah Phillips tribute album. Phillips once called Morse his favorite folk singer in all of North America.

In recent years, Morse’s singing and storytelling voice was reduced to just a whisper after a battle with cancer wrecked his voice box. But he didn’t let it stop him.

Morse continued to perform and published another book of funny tales and anecdotes in 2015. Most of “Father Fell Down the Well” was dictated straight from his memory.

“To be able to make people laugh is worth quite a lot,” Morse told the BDN. “I try to make somebody laugh every day. And I’ve never failed.”


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Mudcat time: 1 July 1:51 PM EDT

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