Author: Sargent, Geoff

Remembering Two Friends

There are memorial jams today for two friends of mine who were part of our bluegrass community, Nick Champlin and Reza Honarkhah. I wanted to write something remembering Nick and Reza this morning, and I think it is particularly appropriate to do it here, because I met them through playing bluegrass. I’ve only been playing a little over two years but in that time have met an extraordinary number of people that I can consider friends, experienced more fellowship, and shared more joy simply by sitting down and playing some music. I think Nick and Reza are the first of my newfound friends to pass and sadly they won’t be the last.

I first met Nick and his family at Hardly Strictly 2007, listening to Gillian Welch with 100,000 of my best friends, and kept running into them at the usual bluegrass workshops, camps, and jams. I think it was about 18 months ago at one of the Alameda Music School Sunday night jams, which I had just started attending and was the typical tentative beginning player, where one evening in walks this red haired, somewhat goofy, but pleasant guy hauling a bass…..yep it was Nick. Now one of the endearing, and sometimes annoying, things that almost immediately struck me about Nick was his cheer, optimism, and constant enthusiasm. In my vocation, cheer and optimism are usually replaced by deliberation and skepticism so I was always happy and amused whenever I had the good fortune to run into him. I never saw Nick unhappy playing bass and singing…or talking about his wife and kids…..never saw him cynical or selfish, even during his illness. I admired Nick for that. It helped our friendship that we had some other things in common…a similar twisted sense of humor, love of all things musical, some tenuous connections to woodworking, and the same taste in movies. Nick was a good friend and I am truly sorry that we didn’t get to share more music.

If you have played the McGrath’s Monday night jam chances are you’ve met Reza barkeep, cook, head cajoler, lead conversationalist, and sometime humorist…..always there and always taking care of things. One of the folks that makes McGrath’s what it is. When Reza spotted me walking into the pub he would start pulling a questions, no talk, all we had to do was pass a look. I was also the victim of one of his jokes.....still makes me smile….I didn’t know beer mugs were made of lead until Reza offered me a beer in a mug I couldn’t lift….it looked like he thought it was the funniest thing he’d ever seen.

Nick and Reza crossed over ahead of the rest of us….and like it says in the gospel song……wherever they are I hope they’re home and hope they’re satisfied. Reza’s memorial will be at McGrath’s pub this afternoon Sunday July 19 from 2 onwards. Nick’s family is having a private memorial in Alameda at the same time.
Posted:  7/9/2009

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