Friday, September 15, 2006

Goodbye "Uncle Pete"

John Watson, the trombonist for Yoko Noge's Jazz Me Blues, passed away last Thursday. Those who knew him weren't really surprised to hear the news. Rather, what I personally found surprising was that he never quit living. For at least two years, John was caught in this loop of hospital stays for cancer treatment, then coming back to gig with Yoko as soon as his strength returned. When the turnaround times became less frequent - the hospital stays became longer, the gigs shorter - I just steeled myself and waited for the word to come.

I'm convinced that John made it through the past two years solely on his will to fight and the power of positive thinking. He never had a cross word for anyone, and people gravitated to him like a moth to a flame. Then they found out that the guy who was making them laugh played Uncle Pete in "Soul Food", and they laughed a little harder. No surprise there; John was a charismatic fellow, even when his strength was waning.

Back when I was new to HotHouse and the South Side, John clued me into this soul food restaurant on South South Chicago Avenue called Ms. Biscuit, but I won't tell that story in full yet. I'm saving it for the memorial service being arranged for him on the 25th, at HotHouse.

I was going to add an audio post to this, but I'll end with some words of wisdom from the man himself. It was about music, but it could just as easily be about life.

"I have a good time, and I'm always listening. I found out that if you let the music dictate, you can't lose. Just your heart and your ears. You can't lose!"

God Bless, my friend.

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