Sunday, October 30, 2011

David Rea 1946-2011

(Photo: Jack Bawden)

David Rea passed away Thursday in Portland, Oregon. He had just turned 65 the day before. Apparently, he’d been ill for several months.

I brought David to play in Montreal a lot in the 1970s. Mostly at the Golem, but he was also on a Pollack Hall concert I produced in 1976 that also included Bruce “Utah” Phillips, Kate & Anna McGarrigle with the Mountain City Four, Erik Frandsen, and the White River Bluegrass Band. David was a sweet guy, an amazing guitarist, a fine songwriter and a great performer.

It was as a guitarist that David first made his mark. Gordon Lightfoot hired David as his lead guitarist when he was just 17. After Lightfoot, he played for several years with Ian & Sylvia and did live and session work with artists ranging from Mike Seeger to Joni Mitchell. He played guitar on Jesse Winchester’s first album.

David made three early LPs with backing from members of bands like Mountain (David co-wrote their hit, “Mississippi Queen”) and the Grateful Dead. But, I think he surpassed those albums with three excellent CDs that were released between 1993 and 2000.

I had a chance to catch up with David at the 2001 Folk Alliance Conference in Vancouver. It was the first time we’d seen each other in 20 or more years. He was as good as I've ever seen him at a couple of too-short showcases I saw him do there.

David was a great musician and – for many years – a great presence in the folk music world. He is missed.

--Mike Regenstreif

1 comment:

  1. What sad news. I woke up this morning thinking of David Rea and making a note to ask Ian Tyson about him the next time we spoke. His name came up when we had supper this summer but I don't know if Ian was aware that David was ill.