In memory of a good friend: Bart Bishop…

7 11 2009

It was a very pleasant, albeit rather emotional, evening hosting The Musical Journey on BounceRadio.net on Friday. The show included a selection of songs set as a memorial to Bart Bishop, a friend of mine who passed away a couple of weeks ago.

Bart had been in the music business for decades. Fans of folk music may remember the band Providence, who, in 1972, were the only American band that The Moody Blues signed to their fledgling label, Threshold Records. Bart was the lead singer of Providence, and had recently been going full steam with solo projects.

Earlier this year, he had released Bartholomew Bishop, a self-titled solo CD which had a sound that hearkened back to the Providence days. It had a folk sound, yes, but even Bart couldn’t really classify it – it had a sound all its own.

Over the past while, he had been hard at work on recording a new CD. Not only had he kept in touch with me to keep me up to date on what was going on in the studio, he had even made use of my Musical Journey show as the exclusive launch point for “A Summer Song”, one of the tracks from the CD. I was very honoured to be chosen to debut the song exclusively on the radio.

Little did anyone know that “A Summer Song” would be the last new song I would get from Bart. Two weeks ago, Bart suffered a fatal heart attack – way too soon.

I am hoping that the work that Bart had done over the last few months will not end up disappearing entirely. I got an e-mail Friday from Andrew Guzie, one of Bart’s former Providence band-mates, which said that the remaining band members are getting together to work on a project in Bart’s memory. They are hoping that it will include previously-unreleased material from Providence, as well as a “current collaboration”, as Andy put it. I do hope that the collection will also include some of Bart’s solo material. A master copy of Providence’s only album, Ever Sense The Dawn had also been found, and Bart had been working to make the album available to a new generation. I hope that we’ll still see that happen.

On a personal note, Bart and I had only known each other a little over a year, but getting to know him certainly had a positive effect on my life. We chatted very frequently online, and found that we had much in common.

Bart was also a very vocal supporter of BounceRadio.net – not just of my shows, but what the station was doing in general. On his MySpace page, there would always be announcements of a number of upcoming BounceRadio.net shows. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve heard from other family and friends who commented to me how highly he thought of BounceRadio and myself in particular. I’m very honoured that he felt that way about what we do at the station.

This past Friday, I hosted a kind of special edition of The Musical Journey in Bart’s memory, in which I featured selected songs from Bart’s solo career, as well as the Providence years. During the show, Bart’s widow, Annie, came by our chat room and was present for much of the show. Bart and Annie’s daughter, Jodi, also came by near the end of the show. It was wonderful to see them both.

To my friend, Bart: I know you’re watching down on all of us from Heaven. I thank you for the friendship and support you gave me in the too-short time we knew each other. We miss you a great deal. Rest in peace, my friend…

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