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Date Posted: 07:41:25 01/14/08 Mon
Subject: RIP Dave Day
Like many people around the world, I was saddened by the loss of one of Rock and Roll's greatest legends. I learned of it through an email that greeted me Monday morning in my inbox; not the best way to start off one's week, but the fact that I received it shows how well-connected and caring the community of Monks fans are, which says a lot.
I was lucky enough to have met Dave a few years ago. Our time spent together was brief, but it was a significant event in my life that I will never forget. While attending graduate school in Bellingham, WA I had a radio show on WWU's station, KUGS, that specialized in garage, psychedelic, and other "out there" music from the 60's. As my graduation approached and the final days of my show began, I tried to think of a way to go out with a bang. I had been a huge fan of "Black Monk Time" since it had been reissued on Henry Rollin's Infinite Zero label in the late 90's, and I would usually play at least one track from it on the show (Monk's tracks were common listener requests too). I knew from my many readings of literature about this most unique band that its banjo player now resided in Renton, just a couple of hours south of our studio. I knew it was a long shot, but I sent Dave an email inviting him to come on our show to be interviewed and be a guest DJ. I explained to him that as a state run college radio station, our budget was limited and that we couldn't even compensate him for campus parking, let alone travel expenses, but he was still welcome on our show. I didn't think he'd say yes (I wouldn't have), but much to my shock, he replied by saying he and his wife would meet me in a downtown Bellingham bar a couple of hours before the show that following Saturday!
When I arrived at the Ranch Room, an appropriately divey and very Rock and Roll bar where we had a agreed to meet, there he was, serenading one of the bartenders with his guitar. He was dressed in full monk attire, the natural bald spot on his head now acting as the shaved tonsure he had sported as a young man. I had never even met the guy, but he treated me like a long lost nephew, and we immediately connected. He told me and my friend stories that we never could have imagined. There were many of these, for sure, but we also talked about other things: politics, family... life in general. His wife, Irene, was a sweetheart and had a lot of insight to share too. They were clearly a couple that were completely dedicated to each other and in it for the long haul.
As per usual, the radio show went far from perfectly. Technical problems plagued the two hour set, but we both still had a blast. With great wit and insight he ruminated eloquently on what made the Monks such a special band. He was clearly a wacky and fun-loving guy, full of life, but I was also impressed with how he took his contribution to our show - and the legacy of the Monks - very seriously.
After the show we hung out for an hour or so. He gave me some Monk memorabilia and sold me a Monks T-shirt, which I was more than happy to pay for, and which I wear with pride to this very day. We then said our goodbyes. I explained to him that I would be moving back to Seattle soon, and that we should catch up then. We exchanged a few emails afterwards, but that was the last time I would ever see him. I heard through a bartender at a bar that I sometimes visit in Georgetown, The 9 Pound Hammer, that Dave also frequented that watering hole from time to time. I had always hoped that we would bump into each other there some time, but it was never meant to be. This saddens me, but at the same time I feel fortunate to have met him at all. This event obviously had a huge impact on me, as evidenced by the long-winded length of this post.
One of my other regrets concerns the recording of the show. The aforementioned technical problems only allowed half of the show to be recorded digitally. I was able to switch over to tape when the CD-R went on the fritz, but I have never gotten around to transcribing that portion over to MP.3. Even though ten or so minutes of the show are missing, editing and archiving what I have of it has always been high on my "to do" list and now there is obviously even more motivation for that. For the time being, however, half of the show is available, and if anyone would like a copy, you can email me at the address listed here. To my knowledge, it is the only radio interview that Dave ever did. If I'm wrong about this, I am sure it is one of the very few.
So to Dave Day, Rock and Roller, banjo player extrordinaire, and all around great guy - I raise my glass to an amazing life and a job well done. Your contribution to one of the greatest artistic achievements of the 20th century cannot be underestimated, and will inspire those of generations to come. Farewell, my friend. You will be missed.
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