Jim Calhoun R.I.P.
That was sad news indeed from Brink about the passing of phenomenal So Oregon bass-player and tenor singer Jim Calhoun. I'm honored to have known him and played with him in a band from 1982-84. He was a consummate pro and equally comfortable playing jazz or bluegrass. I recall that he might be gigging one weekend with a jazz pianist like Al Berman, another weekend with a jazz trio or quarter (like Opus 4), and another in a bluegrass group. He loved them all, and he was a heckuva nice guy too. In a group, he always had great tone, timing, and he took breaks too whenever given the chance. ;-)
53 years old is way too young to be called away. He once said he wanted music to be one of his life-long endeavors, and I guess he achieved that even though it was cut way short. He was often inspired by musicians still out playing in their 70s and 80s. One of his stated fears was growing old or becoming disabled and not being able to play the instrument he loved.
Some folks might not know that he played violin in grade school. In Jr High, he took piano lessons. He once said that his stepdad worked nights so Jim rarely had any time to practice the piano without annoying him or interrupting his TV time.
Jim took a year off after High School to figure out his next move. Fortuately, about 1975, he decides to go to college and major in music at So Ore State in Ashland. He started as a freshman without an instrument.
He was counseled to find a major instrument and breifly considered classical guitar. But he heard the bass calling his name.... He once said "If I played the bass I could play in an orchestra, I could play jazz, I could play bluegrass - I could do anything!" Under the tutelage of Dr. Palmer about 30 years ago, Jim Calhoun developed the chops and became a trained bassist and never looked back!
I understand that Jim also was a songwriter, something I never really realized. I wonder how long he'd been writing. But I see that Siskiyou Summit's CD from a few years ago has a song attributed to Jim: "Wake Up and Smell the Coffee." I hope that DJs throughout the northwest will play that cut in honor of Jim.
Rest in Peace, bluegrass brother. Our lives are all much richer for having known and picked with you. Kathy and I send our sincere sympathy to Jim's wife, family and friends.