On Tuesday, April 14, 2008, the world lost an irreplaceable father, husband, friend, musician and practical joker, Dan Ison. He was 32.
I've always looked upon my job as a writer to explain the inexplicable, but I'm not going to even touch this one. None of us saw this coming. There were no signs. No letters. No strange behavior. No withdrawal from friends. No liquidation of assets. Life was good.
(Dan...if this was your idea of a practical joke...it was NOT funny.)
I can't say much more than was already said at the memorial service, but for those of you who might conceivably have not been there, (judging by the size of the attendant crowd, this would be highly unlikely), let me reiterate a few high points.
Dan was the finest musician I've ever been acquainted with, much less to have been honored to actually play with. Dan was a bluegrass guitarist with no peer. But it never got to his head. It went directly from his heart to his fingers. Just being around him made ME a better musician, too. Or at least he made me sound like it. Dan introduced countless young musicians to the world of bluegrass...a foreign land to many of the current generation. He showed us all the bluegrass was REAL music, not just some hillbilly aberration. (Although, indeed, there are many bona fide hillbillies in our musical circle!)
Dan was a joy to be around. After our countless practice sessions at Paul and Jackie Boyd's place, we'd "set" around Jackie's table for her good country cookin', sharing lies and pies. Dan could eat as viciously as he could play his guitar. He lived life with a vengeance.
If there's any consolation in his loss, it's that he's up there pickin' and grinnin' with the angels. And I can guarantee he's not playing any boring old harp.
Causes Eric Nichols Supports
Free Burma Rangers, Partners Ministries (Thailand), Literacy council of Alaska, Access Alaska.