Monday, November 09, 2009

Brother Blue

I suppose that I must have met Brother Blue near the beginning of his life as a public storyteller. I met him at a concert in New York, sometime in the later 1970s, somewhere downtown, in a loft. Percussionist Gordon Gottlieb and his pianist twin brother Jay invited me to their concert of improvisations with a storyteller they thought I would like. Shortly afterward I heard Brother Blue tell stories on the NPR program "The Spider's Web," (broadcast from WGBH in Boston), and it was only when I returned to Boston in 1982 or so that I actually saw him in action as a storyteller in Cambridge.

There was a jazz band playing on the street in Harvard Square, and Brother Blue was there. I said hello to him, and mentioned that I met him in New York, and he took my hand and we started dancing. It was tremendous fun. He was an extraordinarily musical person, and an excellent dancer.

I would encounter him from time to time, and would listen to him tell stories, usually to a rather large crowd of people, and the next time I talked with him was on a bus in Cambridge.

Last summer Michael and I believe we saw him walking down Harvard Street in Brookline. He was not wearing Blue, and looked like an elderly gentleman. He even walked with a cane. Neither of us could believe that Brother Blue could be as old as this man who walked with a cane and shared his face. But, at 87 or 88, I suppose he was.

What will Cambridge do without Brother Blue?

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