At a time like this, there are no words to adequately describe Byron Berline. In addition to his sublime musicianship, he was also an individual who was gentle, graceful, humble and so very kind.
While the world mourns the loss of Byron, the HVBA will always hold onto a very magical weekend in 2010 when Byron made an trip to Poughkeepsie to play for us and give a fiddle workshop. As Fred Robbins remembers it, in April he read that Byron was going to be on the East coast and, knowing Byron personally, he wrote to him and asked if he might consider a stopover in our area. Within an hour, Byron responded to the email and the HVBA was ready to begin planning.
As there was no accompanying band, we reached out to the talented musicians we knew and….voilá…..a band was formed with Byron Berline (fiddle), Michael Sassano (mandolin), Jerry Oland (banjo), Jen Larson (vocals & guitar), and Keith Edwards (bass). And what a band that was!!! Think “dream team” and you have it. They called themselves Byron Berline & Gold Rush.
Rehearsal? Well, everyone got together on a hot July day, the day of the concert, to go over a couple of tunes. We have the photos of the workshop and the concert for you to relive. We had two unforgettable days with Byron, memories that will always be with us.
Beyond the memories of the HVBA concert, what I will forever remember about Byron and his short stay in Poughkeepsie, was his warmth and generosity. Oh, and his wonderful sense of humor.
Byron and his widow Bette were my dear friends for more than 50 years.
Here is my tribute, still growing as of this writing..
On all my favorite albums by Gram Parsons, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and Emmylou Harris, I always loved the fiddle breaks and kick-offs; also on the Steve Stills Manassas album (for example the kick-off to “Hide it so Deep”) way before I ever heard of Byron Berline. Much later, when reading the liner notes I realized they all featured him. When he stayed over at our home in 2010, he graciously autographed my LP copy of Grievous Angel. He will be missed.
Yes, truly a magical weekend for the HBVA & both a very special musical & life experience for myself & the rest of the Gold Rush Band that got to rehearse & back Bryon for the show.
When I heard about Bryon passing, I reached out to Fred knowing of their life long friendship. It’s still somewhat shocking & so unfortunate. There are so many wonderful story’s, tributes & an incredible bank of documentation of Bryon’s musical career & life that I am sure you all have been seeing all week.
Last weekend , Fred, Lynn & I were e-mailing back & forth & were saying that it must have been a bit intimidating for us leading up to to the date. To be backing up such a world class legend!! But Bryon was so easy going, relaxed, accessible, etc, etc, He made us very , very comfortable.
He did make us pretty comfortable..
Actually really comfortable..
When we rehearsed in the afternoon, we decided I would play the straight melody on Danger Field & he would play the tenor harmony.
You know, all the years with Wayne, Too Blue, Kalia, Sofia, I typically play the tenor.
Sure enough on the show we go to play together & I screw up & start playing the tenor but quickly switch & he goes with it…
Later that night after the show, We’re outside about to go into Lynn and Steve’s for a after show party and Bryon is asking me about my last name
& kinda kidding me about it… He told me I reminded him of Tony from the Sopranos..
I told him…
‘Yeah, next time I screw up a frigging harmony lick you should break my f..king fingers.”
He loved that!! and we were laughing for a good while… We hit it off.
Got to hang with him for a glass a wine & more story that night.
A wonderful man.
Be sure to Check out Bryon’s sports life.
Mike, I’ve watched that concert so many times and I never fail to smile while you are playing your solos and Byron is looking at you with admiration! And, rightfully so. You and the backup band were so deserving of playing with Byron.