Poster by Kevin Morgan
Brother Ray Heads For The Shore
Monday, April 15, 2019
Here at the Fur Peace Ranch we just concluded another amazing weekend with Larry Campbell and myself as teachers and Larry, Teresa, Justin and Jesse as the concert. Well, they dealt me in for the second set and it is always a joy and an honor to hang with these folks. The circumstances the Ranch never ceases to elevate me from my daily world… always; The giving and receiving from friends, old and new sustains us… it really does!
Time moves on relentlessly, inexorably… because that’s what time does. There is no ‘pause’ button, no ‘rewind…’and absolutely no ‘do overs.’ Sometimes one is part of a story greater that oneself and one of these amazing stories in my life involves the Hurlbut family.
Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen
John Hurlbut has been our Ranch Manager for twenty some years but he and Vanessa and I go way back beyond that. I met Johnny in the early 80’s when Kurt promoted a solo Jorma show and Johnny was somehow involved. We became friends, he and I and his brother Pete, and his friend Wally and Jay the Bass player (now long gone) and a host of Columbus characters; some still with us, some on the shore of the River Of Time.
In 1984 I left twenty years of life in San Francisco and hit the road for the East Coast. It was a long-awaited homecoming. I always was an East Coast kid! I would stop off in Cleveland and Ray and Lucy Hurlbut would let me sleep on a couch in their basement as long as I needed to before the next stage of my journey They would tap me on the shoulder in the morning and coffee and breakfast would be waiting.
When Vanessa and I started out thirty-year relationship in 1988 in Key West, Johnny was down visiting his folks who were snowbirding. He stopped by our pad down by the Southernmost Point and as Vanessa was getting to know him she said, ‘I don’t trust him. He’s too nice.’ But that’s just who he was and that’s who the Hurlbut family is. Our daughter Israel carries the name of three strong women. Israel Love Diana Lucy Kaukonen. Love was my mom’s middle name, Diana was Jack’s beloved wife and Lucy was Ray’s other half. She was Mother to John and Pete and Mary Lou.
The Kaukonen’s will never cease loving and respecting the four generations of Hurlbuts we have come to count as friends and family.
After Lucy passed away eight or nine years ago the relationship that Ray and I shared changed. He was no longer John’s dad to me… he was more like an older brother .I embraced his counsel and he always had a relevant view of current events and family. I loved the man dearly… and still do. Time has a relentless way of leveling the playing field. Ray was born in 1921, flew as a radio operator in bombers in the Pacific in WW II. He had a long and productive life! Today at 1640, Ray Hurlbut went home for the last time. Johnny was able to be there and sing songs and then by the Grace of G_d Ray gently left us… like the passing of a tree. He was 98 years old~!
I could go on, but then I would start repeating myself. Nessa and I got to visit him last Wednesday and we were able to swap hugs and stories. He was still sharp as a tack… the Ray I had known for years. For some time, I had graduated from being Johnny’s friend to being Ray’s brother. It was honor I shall not soon forget!
At moments like this, we all say ‘I’m sorry for your loss.’ The real loss would have been if I had never known the man. He was one of my many blessings. Our friend Wally and his wife Cat visited him the other day and Ray told Wally, ‘Tell my brother Jorma I’ll be saving him a seat next to me on the stage… but tell him not to rush.’ That was Ray.
I will miss the man of course, but the honor was mine to have known him and the rest of his family.
Anchors aweigh my brother and as always… fair winds and following seas.
Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen
Foto by Jorma Kaukonen