More Goodbyes

Hello friends,

It’s been a rough month. In fact, it’s been a really rough year and it’s only April. I confess I’ve been putting off writing this even though I know the act of doing so will be therapeutic.

In late February, my friend Jeff Weston passed away after a long illness, then another elderly friend passed away in early March. Late last month, my friend Leon Turner passed away peacefully up in New South Wales. I met him in the early 1980s through his youngest son Michael, who is a truly gifted songwriter and still the best rhythm guitarist I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.

Leon was cheeky, irreverent and had a delightfully wicked sense of humour. I’m sad that I couldn’t make it up to his memorial service but he will not be forgotten by me and all who knew him.  Vale to The Cuddly Man ❤

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Leon Michael Turner 1930-2016

Then, last week my friend Kevin Gleeson passed away. Although he was a handy bass player, Kevin was best known in music circles across Tasmania and interstate for his fierce passion for live local music. There are very few musicians in the original scene statewide (and across all genres) who wouldn’t have come across Kevin as a sound engineer, gig promoter, or enthusiastic punter who just loved going to live gigs. He helped many of us any way he could and was always thinking of new gigs he could set up to showcase new acts as well as keep people like me with paid shows. He didn’t do it for any monetary gain, he did it because he loved the music and the people who made and performed it.

Last week, I went into 936 ABC Hobart with Katie Warren (another incredibly talented local muso) and we talked on air about Kevin and what he meant to us. It was undoubtedly one of the hardest gigs I’ve ever had to do. (Huge thanks to Jo Spargo for making this link available.)

Perhaps the most difficult thing about Kevin’s passing is how sudden it was, although he had been seriously ill for several years. And unlike the other folks I’ve been mourning, he was relatively young – a similar age to me. It hammers it home how precious and fleeting this life is. Vale my friend, may you rest easy ❤

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Kevin Gleeson 1960-2016 [Photo by Mark Young]

As I said recently on social media, I don’t place much store in concepts of any kind of afterlife, but I hope that Kev is having a great time at The Big Gig in the Sky, dancing forever with his beloved, who also left us way too soon a few years ago.

So, my mantra is live your life well, with honesty and integrity and love unreservedly.

Life is short.

Remembering Jeff

It’s been a strange week. I finished assignments for the end of another university unit, happily getting back into the swing of music teaching for the year, was generally feeling pretty wired and as a result, hadn’t been sleeping well.

Wednesday morning I woke in the pre-dawn glow, thinking of a friend who has been very ill. I was probably dreaming about Jeff, he’s been popping up a lot lately. Anyway, I found out a couple of hours later that he passed away peacefully in his sleep around the time I was waking.

Jeff Weston was bigger than life itself and the world is a much duller and quieter place for his passing.

He was, like all of us, a mass of contradictions. Cantankerous, incredibly generous, brash, opinionated, thoughtful, loud, gregarious and possessed a truly wicked sense of humour. And he influenced so many people he met in his very long and full life.

There are many stories I could tell, in fact I think it would make a great book! As a very young man he walked the rugged south west of Tasmania, was a teacher, farmer, one of the original members of the United Tasmania Group, which gave rise to the Tasmanian Greens, he travelled overseas, married and had four beautiful and talented sons, he opened his farm and home to travellers and loved (and actively supported) creative arts and especially live music.

Last year, when things started to look bad, Jeff decided to have a “living wake”, so he could see his friends and say goodbye on his own terms. We had passed messages but hadn’t seen each other for a decade and typically, picked up pretty much where we left off. It was one helluva party and it was so good to see him.

But the story I’ve been thinking about most the last few days I wasn’t there to witness, but it touched me very deeply and gives at least an idea of the kindness of the man.

My elderly mother lived in South Australia and had recently moved into a nursing home as she was no longer able to look after herself properly. Jeff was travelling from Tasmania up to a block he leased in the Kimberly, in remote north western Western Australia, where he could spend winter in a more comfortable climate. He knew I was worried about my mum and she about me but with recent personal dramas, I simply couldn’t afford to visit her at that time.

So, without my knowledge, Jeff went out of his way to my home town, tracked down the nursing home, and not only introduced himself to my mother, but found a lovely bunch of home grown autumn roses to give her. He spent most of the afternoon with her and according to my mum, told her many things that he never said to me, but which put my mother’s mind at rest in that very difficult time.

Above all things, he was my friend and was there for me at a time when my life was very hard. For that, I will never forget him.

Vale Jeffrey Dubrelle Weston 1927-2016 ❤

Jeff, at the center of the action

Jeff, at the center of the action July 2015