“I’m quite sure that it will take the angel band just a short time to get over the shock of ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ in 5/4 time or ‘Amazing Grace’ to the tune of ‘Gilligan’s Island’.” –Van Mertz
“Bill’s reggae version of the Ballad of Jed Clampett was one of my favorites…” –Mike Tonder
He could sing, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame, backwards.” –Rick Haps Hofacre
This past Tuesday morning a musical genius slipped away. Bill Hinkley, musician, teacher, and former member of The Sorry Muthas and, with his wife Judy, the house band for the first season (’74-’75) of A Prairie Home Companion, succumbed to the blood disorder that had hammered his body for some five years. I knew Bill from the time he lived in our home. I recall him as skinny, quiet and a bit skittish, a memory that would likely amuse those who knew him as a performer. But I think Bill found his harmony in the world, as many artists do, through observing and responding to what he saw with his medium of choice. And, music, in turn, served as his web of life through which he gave and received generously and joyously.
So what does the death of a Minnesota musician have to do with a blog on downtown Santa Fe?
Beyond my fumbling grief, I write to celebrate an artistic light and the generative life force that each of us brings to the world. Losing Bill just drives me harder to preserve, extol and uplift the creative spirit that feeds and arguably, defines, the Santa Fe community. And to give where I can: in my profession, in Changing Gallery, our effort to support independent and emerging artists and musicians, and in the face of the needs that confront me.
Whatever you have, offer it up with passion and faith that it matters. Need inspiration? Check out the Facebook Wall that celebrates the lives and music of Bill Hinkley and his wife, musical companion and conspirator in delight, Judy Larson
“Well, they all went out upon the lake ~ Rocks, strop, Bye, Mr. Gamble
Got Swallowed up by a cottonmouth snake ~ Rocks, strop, Bye, Mr. Gamble
Bread and cheese upon the shelf ~ If you want anymore, you can sing it yourself….
–Froggie Went a Courtin,’Traditional, as sung by Bill on the album, Out in Our Meadow
On Friday, June 11th, I will walk the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life to raise funds for cancer education, treatment and research. If you’re in the vicinity of Santa Fe High School that evening, stop by. Check out the ring of farolitos lining the track. If you’re there before dark, you can get a good look at the names and the spirited drawings and decorations that celebrate the many lives touched by cancer. After dark, the bags form a glowing ring of comfort and inspiration. Quite the sight.
UPDATE ON RELAY FOR LIFE:
Thanks to my fabulous donors, I was recognized as the Top Participant in this year’s Relay for Life event in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Actually, I think Barbara Blackwell raised more overall–I was the online leader– but without question, Prudential was the Top Team. I = You who supported me and the work of the American Cancer Society. Thank You.