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This has been the winter of my discontent PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 22 April 2011 16:58

By Liz Betit


I so support what Joyce is trying to do here on this Web site by highlighting musicians and live music in Maine. We all know that we ARE so blessed to have the fine music that rolls around our great state.


My intent was (and still is) to join Joyce in keeping the focus on the Maine live music scene and to blog once a month, but I have been remiss and Joyce has been patient.

My discontent began with moving last October into an environment, which on many fronts, was unpalatable to me. Among them was a ‘writer’s block.’ So, recently, yet again, I have moved.


To put it plain and simple: moving sucks! I will not sugar coat the event. But one of its underlying features is that it can discombobulate your life. For six months I have been walking around internally discombobulated. I need a certain level of organization to function and deal with the many irons that I have going in the fire right now. I am not talking extreme, but I need to know where the things I want and need are.


My discontent was deepened further by the unexpected death of one of my old brothers, of which I am still processing.


I had the feeling that the Grim Reaper was following me when it took a dear old friend of mine on my birthday, followed by two ladies from my childhood neighborhood in Augusta.


And then, it rocked my world again by taking my “little brother,” Ian Parker, away. The words dried up inside of me, the sun shined a little less bright, the winter winds seemed harsher and the voice in my heart grew silent.


I have been lost in all the losses – unable to find my voice.


And then on Sunday, April 17, family, friends, fans and admirers of Ian gathered at Hallowell City Hall Auditorium to celebrate his life and mourn his passing.


Chris Poulson and her minions deserve a standing ovation for the effort they put out on Ian’s behalf. Musicians came from far and wide to honor Ian with music and song.


The heartfelt music, particularly “In the Arms of an Angel,” which was sung wondrously by Marcia Gallagher with back up by Chris, Val Bennett and Tess Zardus, Trish Thompson and Heidi Dellaire was simply beautiful, and in some ways, inspiring.






I felt that place where the words come from within me - that inner place where it seemed that the door had been shut and locked tight – slowly begin to open. I wanted to say something at Ian’s memorial but I couldn’t. I didn’t have the courage – that door was opening up and the current coming through was flooding me with lots of feelings. I couldn’t articulate then, but I can now.


Ian Parker was somebody special. He had that extra “sparkle” in his eye, in the glint of his grin, the timber of his voice. He was a sweet, sensitive, loving person. He had the gift of putting smiles on people’s faces; brightening their day.


He didn’t just like to entertain people; Ian was out for a reaction. He had a tremendous sense of humor and liked to pull pranks on people, and he had no problem committing himself to following through on his “devilish” plans – even if it took time.


I first met Ian at Slates Restaurant. I had been waitressing there for about two years when Heckle and Jeckle (Ian and Josh Robbins) joined me on the breakfast/lunch shift. Josh and I immediately got along, but Ian and I had a rocky start.


You see, I think Ian realized from the ‘git go’ that he had a ‘live wire’ on the line – a gullible person. So, he proceeded to prank me on each and every moment available to him, both in and out of Slates Restaurant.


The kitchen at Slates in those days was REALLY small for a commercial enterprise and some amazing culinary delights came out of there. Some pretty fancy dancing was done by employees who had to navigate it. Ian decided that every time I came into the kitchen he would jump in my way with his big ole’ grin and say, “Hi.” About the 20th time in the first hour, on a 4-hour shift, it began to get old I told him to knock it off.

But this only increased Ian’s consternation to do it.


And where was Josh in all of this? He was taking it all in and decided to put Liz Betit in his ventriloquist act and before I knew it, Ian and Josh and half the town were imitating me.


One morning, as I was walking down the street, I heard a voice call out my name. I scanned the buildings on the opposite side to look for the person who had called my name. And there it was: somebody’s moon shaking out the window at me. I knew who that bare ass belonged to – Ian Parker. For the next year, I saw more of Ian’s moon than I did his face!


One night, while I was at the Worster House visiting friends, he covered the windshield of my car with ‘whitey tighties’ with a big pair or red plaid boxers in the middle. I knew who had done it even though Ian was nowhere in sight. I scooped up those shorts and dumped them on his doorstep.


The next time I saw Ian we had a good laugh about the underwear, the moons and everything else and from that moment on, we were friends. I know that he cared deeply for me and that I was one of his favorite people around. And, I must say, that the feeling was mutual.


When I had my first move back in October, I had asked Ian to help me but he told me that he couldn’t because he was moving the same day. But guess what? In the middle of my move, Ian showed up to help with one of the loads.


Seeing him perform on video at the memorial was both joyous and sad to watch. I am grateful that Bogey captured those moments of Ian’s brilliant, joyful playing. He had a style that was his own and was the master of the ‘run-on’ song (kin to the run-on sentence). It was one of the things he did that grabbed your attention when he was performing solo, as well as the variety of music that he could play and sing.


Also, to be certainly missed will be the Heckle and Jeckle Show. I will particularly miss them doing “Dragging the Line.” Whenever I walked into a bar where they were performing, it seemed they would be singing that one and always interjected my name into the chorus line which would instantly get me going, and which, of course, was the whole point of Ian and Josh’s little prank. As much as it embarrassed me, I will sooo miss them doing that.


And the Returnables… I am so glad that I was there for their reunion performance the night of Parish and Rebecca Renald’s festival last summer. To see and hear them perform together as one on a star-swept night after their separation was a beautiful thing. I will his their high-charged zany brand of rock ‘n’ roll music that the Returnables did in that special way.


It is tragic when anyone passes, but it is a tragedy when a young person is taken at the threshold of life. I do not doubt that Ian would have continued to flourish in his music and performances. I hope that his family and friends can take comfort in knowing that this bright, shining young man touched so many people in his few short years on this Earth. That he was regarded in such esteem, that his friends have started a foundation in his named dedicated to support and enriching the lives of struggling musicians throughout Maine. Keep a look out and I’m sure will keep you posted on upcoming fund-raising events to get the foundation up and running. In the meantime, those who want to donate can contact Bogey Boghosian on Facebook.


Truly, Ian Parker is one musician who will be sadly missed … Happy trails “little brother” until we meet again.


Peace to all ~ Until next time.









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