Celebration of A Life Well Lived

Howdy friends and neighbors. Perhaps you’ve already heard the very sad news; if not, Bill Bryson passed away on Sunday April 30th, 2017.

Bill began playing with George and me way back in October of 2005. We played at the Taste of Encino. We were on the stage that was sponsored by The Bluegrass Association of Southern California. Thanks to Joy Felt. We played about 5 songs. We were just a trio, but we made a lot of music for only three people.

Bill Bryson

Then we began playing at Viva Cantina. I called Cody Bryant and asked if we could play the first Monday of the month. He said, “they don’t want music on Mondays”. I kept bugging him. Finally we started playing on some odd nights; Doug Livingston on dobro. Then, Patrick Sauber joined us on banjo.

Finally! we were booked every Monday night in the BACK room, where no one knew that anyone was playing. Then, Cody brought us out to the front stage for a grand reveal!

For quite awhile the only audience we had on a bleak Monday night was Lalo Lozano (thank you Lalo), then John & Linda Nelson, then Brian, Ingrid and Brian’s mom in her wheel chair. She made up a whole audience with her 90-year-old enthusiasm.

Slowly, folks kept coming back. Some folks would come to eat and then come up and ask what that little guitar was? “It’s a mandolin”, I would tell them. Folks would say, “that’s called bluegrass? I didn’t think I’d like it, but I do! It’s lots of fun.”

It took a few years, but we finally gathered together enough people who knew we played every Monday, and eventually lots of them came back on a regular basis—for a long time—12 years in fact.

About two years ago, Bill started having some trouble; he was in the hospital for several months. Keith Rosier was standing in for him. He finally came home, with an oxygen tank, but he did come back to play with us at Viva. Then, Bill got a bit worse and couldn’t do it anymore.

In late 2016 Bill went into the hospital with a heart attack. NO, he did NOT pass from cancer.

On Sunday April 30th 2017 he passed away in the hospital.

A few weeks later Annie and I were talking on the phone; She said she was getting a lot of calls from old friends who wondered if there would be a memorial service somewhere. So, we put together a great gathering of friends and we all met at Viva Cantina—where we’d all played for over 10 years together, 6 years on every Monday night. There was music outside on the patio watching the horses walk by and more music in the back room on the stage. Annie was very happy to see a lot of old friends that she hadn’t seen in a long time.

We all agreed that it was indeed “A Celebration of a Life Well Lived” for our dearest friend and loved one, William Bryson. November 10, 1946 to April 30, 2017

One Response to “Celebration of A Life Well Lived

  • Jo Ellen,

    I had not heard the sad news until today. Bill was a force, a joyous force. And he will be missed.

    Looks like there is a helluva jam going on in heaven.

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