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Jimmy LaFave
July 12, 1955 - May 21, 2017

A note from Nora Guthrie ~

There's a small group of musicians that hold a special place in our family. Pete Seeger became an "uncle" early on. The Guthrie's welcomed a 19 year old Jack Elliott to the clan in 1951. A few others entered the tribe over the next few decades. In the early 1990's Jimmy LaFave entered the picture, and quietly grew into that space reserved for familial soul mates.

Jimmy passed away May 21st. I was able to spend some precious and personal time with him in the months before. I told him about the first time I heard him sing. I went to his set, and it's engraved like a movie in my memory. I told him ... "I can see you, the tone of voice, the way you sang, the way you held your guitar. And for me, that was it. You encompass this space in my life, and in my work with Woody. And it's a singular space. There's only room for one person in this place that you hold, and it's you. There's not 10 people; there's not other people. It's just you. That's the impression that you made on me the first time I heard you sing."

I was able to include him in just about every Woody Tribute concert or event I produced. A few years ago, I passed along a number of Woody's lyrics for Jimmy to work with. He played one for me in April, "Peacetown". It was perfect. I hope you'll all get to hear it too soon.

Everyone in our family - myself, Arlo, our husbands and wives, our kids, our cousins, our aunts and uncles - we all shared individual moments, stories, as well as group love with Jimmy. And he knew it. We all made sure he did.

For his 60th birthday, I put his name on a plaque on a seat in the theater of the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, OK. One row away from Pete, Cisco, Sonny & Brownie. Near Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan. He has his own permanent seat at our little Guthrie table. Never far away from all those he loved. And never far away from all who love him.

 

 

 

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