Monday, July 27, 2009

Sandy Paton 1929-2009

I received word this morning that folksinger-folklorist-record producer Sandy Paton – pictured here with wife Caroline – passed away yesterday evening at age 80. Sandy had been suffering from emphysema and congestive heart failure over the past few years and just last month faced the tragic death of his 15-year-old grandson, Kaelan, in a drowning accident.

A 1950s-era folksinger and recording artist, Sandy was best known as the main producer behind Folk-Legacy Records, a labour-of-love record company he founded in 1961 with Caroline and the late Lee Haggerty. Folk-Legacy recorded scores of albums by traditional artists like Frank Proffitt, Hobart Smith and Norman Kennedy and in-the-tradition contemporary artists like Art Thieme, Gordon Bok and Margaret Christl & Ian Robb. Many years ago, I operated a small booking agency for folk artists and two of my client-friends, Rosalie Sorrels and Bill Staines, had LPs on Folk-Legacy.

I first met Sandy – and Caroline and Lee – in the mid-1970s when I went to the Fox Hollow Folk Festival to help run the Philo Records booth and we were set up next to Folk-Legacy. From then, right through this decade, I’ve always made it a point to spend time catching up with Sandy whenever we were at the same festival (which seemed to average about once a year). And in the past 10 or 12 years we often exchanged e-mail messages.

Sandy and Caroline were supporters of Folk Roots/Folk Branches from the beginning of the program’s run in 1994 and always made sure that I had their latest releases and any of their reissues I was interested in. Two weeks ago, I made a rare live return to CKUT to guest-host the Sunday night bluegrass and country hours and included a song from Jim Ringer’s great Folk-Legacy album, Waitin’ for the Hard Times to Go.

For a good bio of Sandy, please see this birthday tribute to Sandy that Ron Olesko wrote a couple of years ago.

Sandy Paton was a real mensch who will be missed by all who ever knew him.

--Mike Regenstreif

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