Re: [Harp-L] Chris Michalek R.I.P

Chris gone? Terrible news indeed. A towering talent, a sharp and hilarious wit 
and an extremely generous teacher. If it weren't for Chris pushing and goading 
me, I never would have explored 12th position. 
I sat in with his jazz trio about 5 years ago in Phoenix (sure that I'd gotten 
in over my head). But after my set Chris told me that he really liked my 3rd 
position playing... That compliment, coming from him, meant the world to me.
RIP, big guy. I'll miss you all my days.
Harpin' in Colorado,
--Ken M.

From: Brendan Power <bren@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: Harp-L@xxxxxxxxxx
Sent: Fri, December 17, 2010 3:02:31 AM
Subject: [Harp-L] Chris Michalek R.I.P

I just got a message from George Brooks saying that Chris has died after a
short illness... I am utterly shocked!!! I find it hard to take in, but
George says he was called by Chris' wife Laurie, so it must be true,
horrible as that is to contemplate.

You had to know Chris personally to appreciate him. His posts online were
pretty extreme at times I agree, but he's the epitome of that saying "His
bark is worse than his bite". Chris had a heart of gold, and was incredibly
generous to me and lots of other people. The 2000 Harmonica Summit he
organised single-handedly was a landmark event in the harmonica world;
that's the first time I got to know him, as he put me up in his house. We
became friends, meeting at successive SPAHs, and I spent a great three days
with him in June at his and Laurie's home in Phoenix, where Chris organised
a gig/workshop for us. Remembering how lively and energetic he was only a
few short months ago makes his sudden death all the harder to accept.

At the Summit in 2000 I met his wonderful parents, American Dad and
Vietnamese Mum, who met when his Dad was in the Vietnam war. Wonderful
people; his Mum worked as a surgical nurse and gave me some exquisite small
scissors and tweezers that are still in my harp tool kit today.

After the recent SPAH in August Chris invited Buckwheat, TJ Klay and me
again back to his parents' place in Minneapolis/St Paul, and we had a
brilliant afternoon playing, joking, firing his Dad's home-made pipe gun and
enjoying a delicious meal of Vietnamese delicacies cooked by his big-hearted

That afternoon I tried the sample Buddha Marine Band that he was showing
people at SPAH, and it was absolutely incredible! Among the 2-3 most
responsive custom diatonics I have ever tried. 

Sure he talked himself up, but he certainly walked the walk as a customiser
as well as a player, big time. His playing, especially the gorgeous 12th
position sound he got, was very influential, especially through his generous
YouTube teaching videos. He was a great mentor to many of the best young
players around today, as I'm sure they will attest.

Personally I liked Chris's strong opinions on everything. They always made
sparks fly, never boring! It's a pity that many of those offended by strong
posts online never got to know him in person, or they would have seen
through the bluster.

Chris was one of the great characters of the US harmonica scene, and he will
leave a big hole.

There is lots more to say and I know many others will feel the way I do. RIP
Buddha, and keep tootin' wherever you are!

Brendan Power


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