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Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (1931-2007)

02 Feb 07 - 02:07 PM (#1955853)
Subject: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (February 2007)
From: Mary Katherine

With great sadness I must pass along the news that Eric von Schmidt died quietly in his sleep last night. Another great loss to the world of folk music.


02 Feb 07 - 02:10 PM (#1955857)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (February 2007)
From: Midchuck

Joshua gone....

P.


02 Feb 07 - 02:26 PM (#1955870)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (February 2007)
From: bobad

Sad news indeed, so long Eric, it's been good to know ya.


02 Feb 07 - 02:35 PM (#1955875)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (February 2007)
From: Peace

Ouch.


02 Feb 07 - 02:36 PM (#1955877)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (February 2007)
From: Wesley S

Damn. He'll be missed. There were too few singers of his caliber in the first place.


02 Feb 07 - 02:37 PM (#1955880)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (February 2007)
From: fat B****rd

I was reading about him only the other day. RIP Eric.


02 Feb 07 - 04:25 PM (#1955968)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (February 2007)
From: Armen Tanzerian

It's hard to overstate how important Eric von Schmidt was to the folk revival of the 1960s. When he arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the mid-50s, he *was* the folk revival. He had been in the army, he played blues guitar, and he brought a raft of blues and folk songs to college-age musicians who had never heard anything like this music before. Before the Harry Smith collection, there was Eric von Schmidt.

He had a gruff charisma and immediately attracted a circle of younger musicians eager to get in touch with the roots sounds that Eric brought to Cambridge. When the folk boom was in full swing, Bob Dylan came to town, and it was no surprise that he credited the founding father on a cut from one of his first albums.

When Eric and Jim Rooney were looking for a title for their wonderful oral history of the folk boom in New England, they revived the name Dylan had given to the song he'd learned from Ric: "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down".

Eric von Schmidt came from a family of important artists and he was a terrific painter. In his large-canvasses of Women of the Blues, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Memphis Minnie escape the dusty world of old photographs and truly come alive.

There was a time when Eric was known for giving large get-togethers at his Westport, Connecticut home, one of which he dubbed Combined East Prussian Pride and Shame Day. He had a great keilbasa recipe.

Ric's last years were not easy ones, which brought sadness to all of those he had mentored and inspired. But the legacy of his art, his music, and most of all his pioneering example of how you put your whole self into a song will live a very long time.


02 Feb 07 - 04:33 PM (#1955975)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (February 2007)
From: Charley Noble

Armen-

Thanks for your overview.

Charley Noble


02 Feb 07 - 05:14 PM (#1955997)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (February 2007)
From: Little Hawk

Good to hear that summary, Armen. For many people, their last years are not easy ones.


02 Feb 07 - 05:59 PM (#1956037)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (February 2007)
From: Big Al Whittle

I must have bought three of four editions of the Joan Baez songbook with Ric's ethereal illustrations.

Baby Let Me Follow You Down was probably the first real tune I learned on the guitar, when I was about 15. Didn't have a clue what it meant! Not sure I do now.

I was a little disappointed when I heard him on record - the Dylan intro about 'the green pastures of Harvard University' was a hell of a build-up to come on stage after.

Anyway I thank him and whoever helped him make his contribution. I'm sorry if his lfe wasn't a happy one. Over here in England - Ric was part of our consciousness at the time - the Blow Whistle Blow track on the Blues Project album and the appearance of his folk blues album on the cover Dylan's Bringing it All Back Home album - made him one of the hippest names on the block.


02 Feb 07 - 06:07 PM (#1956045)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (February 2007)
From: GUEST

His 1961 recording of "Wasn't That A Mighty Storm" (about the Galveston floods of 1900)is included on a CD entitled "Troubadours of the Folk Era, Vol. 1" that I bought some time ago.

From the liner notes to that anthology - "Behind [John] Hammond and [Dave] Van Ronk were other white boys, like Eric Von Schmidt, the painter, who taught Bob Dylan how to sing "Baby Let Me Follow You Down" and Tom Rush how to sing "Wasn't That A Mighty Storm." The reference is to white folk singers of that era who covered songs written by African American artists such as Big Bill Broonzy.


02 Feb 07 - 06:37 PM (#1956075)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (February 2007)
From: GUEST,Mike B.

(neglected to identify myself on the posting immediately above this one)


02 Feb 07 - 06:46 PM (#1956080)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (February 2007)
From: Severn

For examples of his artistic talents, he did covers for a lot of LPs for Vanguard including many of the Twofers and the budget Everyman series which featured The Weevers, Odetta, Rev. Gary Davis, etc.
He did some book illustrations too, including those for the book (I forget the whole title) that was made into the film "Bullwhip Griffin".

The piece-de resistance may have been the "Mansion Of Sweet Moments" board game he designed for the inside of the LP "Sweet Moments With The Blue Velvet Band" on Warner Bros. records during the brief time it was known as W7, for Warner Bros.-Seven Arts (W7 WS1802). The record was a one-time only release by a band that was made up of Bill Kieth Jim Rooney, Eric Weissberg and Richard Greene and the object of the game was to reach "The Mansion Of Sweet Moments a/k/a The Ryman Auditorium, original home of The Grand Old Opry. Squares said things like "Stuck In Folsom Prison. Miss a turn" or "Your blue moon has turnes to gold again. Forward two spaces". The type of thing that LPs were invented to contain successfully but CDs were not.

So even if you never heard him sing, you might have stuff with his illustrations.


02 Feb 07 - 08:28 PM (#1956139)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (February 2007)
From: Joe_F

Look yonder, partner, see that eagle rise.
He was born on land, but he sure enjoys the skies.


03 Feb 07 - 01:01 AM (#1956273)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (February 2007)
From: GUEST,Art Thieme

Farewell. And well done.

Art


03 Feb 07 - 07:53 AM (#1956438)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (February 2007)
From: NormanD

Very sad news, but not unexpected. He'd managed to carry on working during his recent years of ill health and produced some fine pieces (mentioned above). He was a blues man to the end - first as a performer, inspirer, and mentor to many others (Tom Rush and Chris Smither) and lately as an artistic chronicler and portraitist.

There's a well-known photo of Bob Dylan in one of his first England folk club appearances, at The Troubadour in 1962 or 63. He's on stage with Martin Carthy, Richard Farina, and Eric Von Schmidt.

His role and influence is under-reported and acknowledged. We should remember him fondly and well.

My thoughts are with his family.

Norman


03 Feb 07 - 11:07 AM (#1956570)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (February 2007)
From: GUEST,Martoons

A very sad day indeed. First Fritz, now Eric.

I just want to add some mention of the book he and Jim Rooney did on the Cambridge/Boston folk scene, "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down." It is a wonderful recreation of what must have been a wonderful moment in history. I read and re-read it with relish. I highly recommend it.

Also want to say how wonderful he was as an illustrator. I actually came to know of him first through his graphic work. Especially the well known Baez/ Dylan poster.

My thoughts and condolences are with his family.

Gary


03 Feb 07 - 01:31 PM (#1956684)
Subject: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt
From: curmudgeon

More details and links   here


03 Feb 07 - 04:51 PM (#1956830)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (2 Feb 2007)
From: GUEST,Tunesmith

This is strange, because I had it my mind that Eric had died a few years ago! Anyway, I love his songs, paintings and inspiration. AND, you must hear Howie Bursen's version of Eric's great song " Joshua Gone Barbados" - fabulous.


04 Feb 07 - 07:35 AM (#1957318)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (2 Feb 2007)
From: voyager

Giants of The Blues - EvS Painting

voyager


04 Feb 07 - 07:01 PM (#1957830)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (2 Feb 2007)
From: Gulliver

The first (non-Irish) folk album I heard was by Dick Fariņa & Eric von Schmidt
(with Bob Dylan)--a big influence. His book Baby Let Me Follow You Down was a revelation.
RIP


05 Feb 07 - 03:31 PM (#1958194)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (2 Feb 2007)
From: dwditty

My only meeting with Ric was a few years ago ... oh man, was it 15 or more years ago already? ... anyway, he was playing in New Haven at a health food grocery. He described it as his Supermarket Tour. I asked him about his song, "Wet Birds." Such a gleam appeared in his eye as he revealed one of his secrets - using musicians under a pseudonym on his records. In the case of Wet Birds, it was Garth Hudson on accordian. I will play some of his music tonight.

dw


05 Feb 07 - 03:38 PM (#1958206)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (2 Feb 2007)
From: GUEST,Caitlin von Schmidt

I'd like to thank everyone for their kind words, and for taking the time to say goodbye to my father, Eric. And I'd like to reassure weelittledrummer that in fact, his life was a very happy and rich one. He did what he loved, and made a living at it, which is more than a lot of us can say, I'll wager. And he certainly loved a lot of people - made them nuts, sure, but he always had something to offer. It's true, though, that the last few years have been difficult. I don't know if I believe in heaven, but if there is one, he's there singing and playing again, and hoisting a glass to those of us left here to remember him.


05 Feb 07 - 04:09 PM (#1958230)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (2 Feb 2007)
From: Wesley S

Our condolences on your loss. Your father was one of a kind as I'm sure you know. He enriched the world of music and art by his presence here. We should all be so lucky.


05 Feb 07 - 04:38 PM (#1958261)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (2 Feb 2007)
From: Mark Ross

Got to meet EVS at the unveiling of his Custer picture in Wichita in '77. I was hired to play cowboy songs at the opening at the university there, got to play some tunes with him, a memory I will always treasure. Condolences to his family, and the rest of us knowing that he's gone He will be sorely missed.


Mark Ross


07 Feb 07 - 07:45 PM (#1960582)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (2 Feb 2007)
From: GUEST,Alissa von Schmidt

I was touched by all of the loving things that people had to say about my great-uncle. He touched many lives, and I regret with all my heart that I never really got to say goodbye. Like Caitlin said, I'm sure he's entertaining everybody up in heaven or somewhere better.


08 Feb 07 - 07:19 PM (#1961770)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (2 Feb 2007)
From: GUEST,another country heard from...

To say my father and I did not always get along would be an understatement of mammoth proportions. To say he was one of a kind would be that same kind of understatement. I wish we had been able to resolve the personal issues that defined our often rocky relationship. That being said with such a feeling of loss, I have to say that he has left me in complete awe of his absolute passion for life. In addition to growing up beleiving that he truly knew how to do anything -and everything from carpentry to plumbing to feeding ants to a pet toad. The truth is if he didn't know he would learn it right then and there as he went along. I now as an adult beleive that one of his greatest gifts was his absence of fear. He lived his life flying in the face of even the remotest convention..No lawyers --no doctors-- no punching a time clock--no working for "the man" Im sure i will never meet another person who lived life more on his "own terms"than my father. For that he has earned my greatest respect and love.I will always remember him as a modern day pirate,(complete with gleaming gold tooth)with his incredible passion and endless creativity sailing him in and out of this port and that one with his insatiable love of wine women and song being his driving wind."Never compromise with reality" was only one of his mottos--he truly lived them all. Who else do we know who can say the same? I hope he left me with some fraction of the boldness he had to dream the BIGGEST dreams and then got out and live them. "No regrets!!"    He passed away in his sleep peacefully ,as I prayed he would-to put an end to his suffering here on earth. As his long voyage here with us comes to an end ,I have this to say ---on to the next adventure!!! Yo Ho Ho and a bottle of rum   meg


11 Feb 07 - 12:35 PM (#1964047)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (2 Feb 2007)
From: GUEST,Llyn

I got into the folk scene in St Petersburg, Florida, in 1965. Eric Von Schmidt was living on Longboat Key in those years. We local folkies would come to his home to pay homage, mostly without prior notice. He and his wife Katherine, the shark biologist, were most gracious hosts, no matter what we had interrupted. There is a much-told tale of the time that a bunch of attendees at the Longboat Key Folk Festival got hold of an old fire truck, loaded themselves on board, and drove it to the Von Schmidt home. Eric came on occasion to the Beaux Arts Coffeehouse in Pinellas Park, near St. Pete. The first that I recall was for a folksong festival held there 27 Feb 1966. (I remember the date because we have photos and I wrote an account of that day.) Among those he brought with him were Mitch Greenhill, Megan, and Caitlin. We all loved and revered Eric and felt privileged and honored at his presence. When my daughter was born in 1967, her dad and I named her Caitlin. Eric is now thoroughly woven into our local lore. As Florida is being devoured by the "cancer" of development, we treasure Eric's songs more than ever, especially "Gulf Coast Blues." "Spin an old rum bottle, baby, be my compass 'til I die." Thanks for being a part of our lives, Eric! Go with all our love.


11 Feb 07 - 04:16 PM (#1964242)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (2 Feb 2007)
From: GUEST,Wesley S

I went to the Beaux Arts fairly often during the 60's but I must have missed Eric there. That's a shame - it would have been a great room to see him perform at. It's nice to see the Beaux Arts mentioned here. I remember seeing Don Couch and a Dannie Kalie {?} there.


11 Feb 07 - 09:56 PM (#1964497)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (2 Feb 2007)
From: GUEST,Llyn

Wesley S: It was Danny Kalais, now deceased. Tom Reese of Beaux Arts passed away Jan. 2006 at age 89, memorial concert 9/06. Bill Wasel passed last month; his memorial was yesterday. Are you living in the Tampa area?


11 Feb 07 - 10:24 PM (#1964509)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (2 Feb 2007)
From: DADGBE

A fond memory of Rick - I was working at Folk Legacy in Vermont when Mitch Greenhill and Rosalie Sorrels came through to record. Poor Rosalie had a terrible case of poison ivy and suffered through the whole process. When they were done recording, I joined them on their drive to the Boston area and we stopped for a short while at the Von Schmidt's. He was amazingly kind to this know-nothing kid.

Rest well!


12 Feb 07 - 12:57 AM (#1964565)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (2 Feb 2007)
From: Johnhenry'shammer

"I first heard this song from Ric Von Schmidt. He lives in Cambridge. Ric's a blues guitar player. I met him one day in the green pastures of Harvard University."

Bob Dylan


12 Feb 07 - 11:13 AM (#1964866)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (2 Feb 2007)
From: Wesley S

Llyn - No I'm out in Texas now. At the time I lived in Largo. Any idea if Danny Kalais made any recordings? I'd love to hear if he was as good as I remembered. As I recall he - or someone else there - Did a song called "It takes a long tall brown skinned gal to make the deacon lay his bible down". I've been searching for that song for ages but no one has heard of it before.


12 Feb 07 - 12:23 PM (#1964941)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (2 Feb 2007)
From: GUEST,Llyn

Wesley S -- Danny Kalais sang but did not write "Long Tall Brown-Skinned Gal." If you Google it, you'll get about 4 references. Danny had a way of singing every song such that you'd think he wrote it even if you knew he didn't. He was every bit as good as you recall and had a standing offer from Columbia in late '60s but no self-discipline to record anything ever. He died in the '90s (year uncertain) after decades of drink, drugs, violence, jail, and mental hospitals. I have the lyrics of (but no tune for) his composition "You Got to Keep Your Madness Magic" -- which he just couldn't do. Contemporary Danny Finley, on the other hand, has been very successful as "Panama Red" in TX with Kinky Friedman and in Nashville. Contact mari@abazaar.com. Mari can direct you to the Beaux Arts Web page and the Yahoo group. She's writing a book about BA and is collecting reminiscences.


12 Feb 07 - 12:39 PM (#1964959)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (2 Feb 2007)
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan

Can I take it that the "Jim Rooney" mentioned in this thread is the same one who produced some of Johmn Prine's records over the years?

Regards


12 Feb 07 - 01:19 PM (#1964993)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (2 Feb 2007)
From: Wesley S

Thanks Llyn - I've sent Marie an e-mail. I appreciate the tip.

I was a Danny Finley fan also although I havn't seen him since he morphed into Panama Red.


12 Feb 07 - 01:57 PM (#1965040)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (2 Feb 2007)
From: McGrath of Harlow

Discography


12 Feb 07 - 10:18 PM (#1965582)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (2 Feb 2007)
From: GUEST,Llyn

Thanks, Wesley! Mari appreciates it. Finley isn't red anymore, he's gone white. I always loved what he used to say in high school: "I'm 5'4", I got red hair, freckles, thick lips, crooked teeth, I'm left-handed and a bastard, and you got the nerve to tell me I ain't got soul????"


09 Mar 07 - 11:19 AM (#1991566)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (2 Feb 2007)
From: GUEST,Karl Eklund

I have an essay "Joshua Gone Barbados. Eric Gone, Too" on my St. Vincent blog at:
http://svgb.karleklund.net
There are also some additional notes.
I still have some questions, like "What was Eric doing in St. Vincent in 1962?"


06 Aug 07 - 04:36 AM (#2120165)
Subject: RE: Obit: Eric Von Schmidt RIP (2 Feb 2007)
From: GUEST,Mari

Just finished reading "Baby Let Me Follow You Down". It's an incredible book full of information on how the folk music scene developed in coffee houses in the 50's and 60's, went from alternative to mainstream, and dispersed around the country.
Thanks Eric and Jim for doing such a good job of chronicling the era. I'm writing the Beaux Arts book about a similar scene in Florida during that time. Eric was there too.

http://www.beauxartsbook.com