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One Last Point: ‘He’ll be coming round ...’

“... the mountain when he comes.” 

There simply isn’t enough room in my column to detail the number of things I learned from my good friend Carl Rovainen, but I’ll try to share a few of my favorites.

I can’t remember when I first met Carl. There isn’t one defining moment; he was just there one day. 

It may have been theater related; I acted with him in “Of Mice and Men.”

It may have been music related; I played with him on so many occasions it is hard to count. Whenever it began, it has been a relationship like none I’ve ever had — one filled with kindness.

Carl never had an unkind word about anyone. Period.

I can remember being at the Port of Brookings Harbor playing with the Boon Dock Band during a farmers market and one of the vendors complained that we were too loud. A number of us murmured and mumbled but Carl just smiled and turned down the amplifier and went on playing.

There were a number of times when playing at Good Sam or at Macklyn House or at Oceanic Meadows that someone would be out of tune, or off key, or overly rambunctious and after the event – when I would complain about it – Carl would just smile.

Eventually I learned what Carl had obviously known all along: it didn’t matter if someone was any of those things, as long as the music was shared.

Carl loved music. Most of my interaction with him was through playing at a number of retirement homes in the community.

I don’t recall if there was a style of music that Carl didn’t love. (Maybe the Beatles, we never played many songs by the Beatles.)

As we would move from person to person, with each musician choosing a song, Carl would often choose, “If you’re happy and you know it.” 

Of all of the songs in the Rise Up Singing book, it was my least favorite, but it wasn’t a sing-a-long if Carl didn’t pick it.

He’d grab his fiddle and start dancing among the residents, bringing smiles to the faces of everyone.

I’ll miss Carl, but every time I attend a hootenanny or sing a classic tune I’ll think of him.

I’m clapping my hands, Carl.


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