Re: [Harp-L] Ray Tankersley

I have to chime in on Ray. I've known him for a number of years, in the context of San Francisco Bay Area harmonica activities and at SPAH. 

Ray was always in the thick of making things happen - creating a community for harmonica players, linking people with each other socially and in musical activities, and encouraging young players - it was one of his protogés whom I met at a blues concert,Chris Harris,  who introduced me to him and, in the process, to Al and Judy Smith, Tom Stryker, Pete Blasberg, and Bob Berthiaume, and indirectly through them to SPAH, Pete Pedersen and many others. Maybe 15 years ago at SPAH, Ray introduced me to a green kid named Damien
Masterson who has since become a fine jazz harmonica player, and more
recently, a friend, neighbor, and teaching colleague (at the jazzschool in Berkely, where we teach a jazz harmonica ensemble class).

Ray did not lack in crusty outspokenness and was always full of entertaining harmonica stories from the harmonica band days. He also brought some great arrangements to SPAH. I remember sitting in a hotel room listening to him, Blackie Schackner, Ron Kalina, Pete Pedersen, Charlie Leighton, Tom Stryker, Al and Judy Smith, and maybe others, rehearsing some his arrangements - I was pinching myself to be sure I wasn't dreaming! 

I missed his presence this year in St. Louis and wondered about him. The answer to that puzzlement came a couple of weeks ago when Cynthia DuSel-Bacon shared with me that Ray was in a hospice and that it was a one-way trip. She was going to see him soon and I asked her to give him my regards.

I'm sure that Ray was able to go out knowing how much he was appreciated by the harmonica community.

Winslow Yerxa

Author, Harmonica For Dummies ISBN 978-0-470-33729-5

--- On Thu, 11/6/08, Michael Polesky, MPA <m.polesky@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
From: Michael Polesky, MPA <m.polesky@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Re: [Harp-L] Ray Tankersley
To: harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx
Date: Thursday, November 6, 2008, 11:14 AM

Hi All,

----- Original Message ----- From: "Tom Stryker"
> Ray Tankersley, an original Harmonica Rascal and tireless supporter of the
> harmonica passed away October 27th, 2008  He was 87 years old and is
> survived by his daughter Barbara and son Brad.  His wife Margie died some
> years ago. Ray appeared prominently, playing harmonica, in the movie
> In My Heart" and others
> Ray was a music educator, member of "Big Harp," and the
"Sharp Harp." His
> harmonica credits and harmonica life are well detailed in Al Smith's
> book "Confessions of Harmonica Addicts."
> To me personally, this is a great loss as I have known Ray for 53 years
> he is the one who taught me harmonica and responsible for my harmonica
> musical career.  He started teaching me when I was 15 in San Francisco..oh
> how long ago, lol.
> He will be remembered.

I just wanted to chime in about what a class act Ray Tankersley was.  I have
fond memories of Ray consistently encouraging me to get as much joy out of the
harmonica as I could possibly get.  Ray gave me the chance to fulfill my fantasy
of playing at SPAH opening the show for the Saturday night banquet a few years
ago in his harmonica orchestra.  Even more importantly, he helped amass a large
library of music that he played and recorded with his student, Cynthia
Dusel-Bacon.  They played as a duet showing off Ray's genius for the
harmonica as Cynthia played the moving lead part on her hands free harmonica
(Vern Smith).  Their duo was very special and a great testament to Ray's
commitment to music education.

With Ray's consent, I inherited his seat in the duo with Cynthia just this
year - since Ray couldn't make it to SPAH.  It was a great honor and I have
a lot to live up to.  I definitely idolize what Ray accomplished over his
lifetime and would be happy if I did half as much over mine.  Ray will
definitely be remembered.


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