R.I.P. Bert Jansch
To my friend Bert: Thank you for being such an inspiration to myself and so many of my musical compadres. For being playing songs you wrote 40 years ago with those of us who were born much later. For being humble and funny and so exceptionally talented.
I will always cherish moments I spent with Bert: at the Bridge School Festival where he was re-introduced to Neil Young after 40 years and played guitar with him on “Ambulance Blues”, in my kitchen drinking tea with him and his wife Loren, and driving down Highway 1 from Santa Cruz to San Francisco looking for a beautiful spot to take some photos between shows.
Over the last couple of years, Bert was so happy to be playing shows with Neil & Pegi Young, and I’m so grateful the Youngs not only gave Bert the opportunity to play for so many people in beautiful venues, but gave their audiences the chance to experience Bert’s music for the first time. I know that he appreciated the opportunity immensely.
During the encore of the Bridge School Festival, where all the performers get up to play “Keep On Rockin’ in the Free World”, Bert took his guitar out of his case to go onstage. Lacking a strap, I said, “Bert, where’s your strap?” He said, “I don’t have one.” “Why not?” He laughed and said, “Because I’ve never played guitar standing up before!”
Another funny Bert story I’d like to share reveals his sense of humor about the hard-partying life he notoriously led as a younger man: in Santa Cruz at the Brookdale Lodge, where he played a show with Meg Baird and Mariee Sioux, we were hanging out after the show on the balcony of the hotel there. Bert was passed a spliff, and he politely declined. “Oh, no thank you, that was the first thing I gave up.” So I laughed and said, “Oh yeah? What was the last thing you gave up?” and he looked at me with that mischievous twinkle in his eye, chuckled, and said, “Speed.”
Perhaps his hard-living ways ended his life it a bit earlier, but he certainly lived to the fullest, traveling and performing until the very end. I’m so glad I got to spend as much time with him as I did while he was here with us.
I love you friend. Rest in peace.
A slideshow with some additional photos I took of Bert from 2006-2011 can be found here: