Monday, July 27, 2009
Sandy Paton, RIP
Sandy Paton, a well-regarded traditional folk musician, and founder of Folk Legacy Records of Sharon CT, died yesterday after years of suffering with emphysema.
I didn't know Sandy well, though I met him several times. I knew his music, and the music he played and produced with his family, and of course I knew the many classic traditional and contemporary recordings he produced with Gordon Bok, Bill Staines, Cindy Kallet and the trad folk supergroup, Bok, Muir and Trickett.
I came to know Sandy's music, and Sandy's label through Bill Domler who recruited me as a folk DJ at WWUH. Bill loved the Patons, and their music, and was so inspired by their album of singalong traditional folk, The Golden Ring, that he started a coffeehouse, The Sounding Board, which still runs strongly, three decades later. The Patons played the Sounding Board annually.
The music Sandy and Caroline played and recorded was real, honest-to-god folk and traditional music. Music that had been passed down through generations, hand to hand, until all the burrs had been worn off. Sandy played and preserved the music with a nerdy passion, that we promoters and seekers of edgy, electrified and singer-songwriter type folk music would sometimes scoff at. I confess to a bit of scoffing myself, but I've grown (or grown up) to believe and understand, that without "nerds" like Sandy, we wouldn't have the rich reserve of folk songs and tunes that each successive generation seeks out to learn, love and perform.
Sandy's Folk Legacy label, like folk music itself, has survived the fashionable ups and downs of pop music and sustained an evergreen catalogue of folk songs. What Sandy, and Caroline, have done, and have left us, is important, though not necessarily sexy enough to command headlines.
Sandy left this old world a better place than he found it, and not much higher praise could be given to anyone who has finished trodding its dusty paths.