Remembering Whit Connah & The Importance of Music in the Community

6 Sep

whitThis past Saturday I attended the memorial service for Whit Connah.  It was a true celebration of the life of an amazing person, one who touched the lives of so many.  His impact in the community will be felt for our lifetime and hopefully beyond.  The service consisted of some of the rawest, most heartfelt performances I’ve ever witnessed, and the individuals who spoke about Whit – daughters, friends, brother, granddaughter among them – painted a vivid portrait of someone who had a passion for living and was very good at passing that passion along to those who interacted with him.  He was labeled an introvert by several folks, but I certainly never saw that side.  One can credit wife Barbara for bringing him out of his shell.  Whit was an artist and a musician.  He taught art at Georgia Tech in their architecture department for 30 years and created many masterpieces of his own over the years as well.  He also was a mainstay in the Atlanta Cajun band Hair of the Dog, which rocked around Atlanta and the Southeast for over 30 years, their last show being a performance in early March as part of the Frank Hamilton School Concert Series.  I was fortunate to be able to see them many times over the years and include them in several of my projects.  Like many folks and especially his family and close friends, I will miss Whit and the energy he exuded onto others and within the Atlanta music community.  However, I have no doubt that his spirit will live on.  Below is a video I shot in the WREK studio where Hair of the Dog did a promotional appearance for the FHS show.

Whit’s passing has brought me full circle in my current career path for the Frank Hamilton School, of which Barbara has been a fiddle instructor.  It is our mission to provide an opportunity to people to learn and enjoy playing an intstrument, by yourself or in a group regardless of skill level.  I had a personal epiphany along that line of thought on Saturday after the memorial service.  Those who know me know my continued love of roots music and all its different sounds.  However, and for whatever reason, I have never really picked up an instrument to jam, noodle, or much of anything.  A bit of harmonica here and there, a couple of bass lessons.  Someone has to present the shows, too, right?  On Saturday, inspired by what I had witnessed at the memorial service, I passed on my much anticipated day & night of college football and brought out a mandolin that has found a home in our house.  I have never played the mandolin before, but I learned a couple of chords and away I went, offering mainly “ambience” notes but they fit in with the more experienced notes of my friends.  For about five hours I did my best and certainly felt a release of emotion that was much needed, and I look forward to continuing the learning process!

I am sending lots of love to Whit’s immediate family and his friends who so dearly loved him and will do my part to ensure his spirit lives on continuously.

whitmemorial

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