Jim Drake’s Entertainment Blog: What will they say when I’m gone?

You may have noticed in the last few issues of the news I’ve been asking folks to send in Rick Hulett memories. Rick, a well-known and much-loved member of the music community, died on April 22. Rick’s five-year struggle with a rare cancer surely would test anyone’s strength and willpower — but he chose to press through the ordeal by playing music and surrounding himself with family and friends. Thanks to all who sent in your memories, I’ll devote a few columns to this throughout May, and they’ll be online, too. I think the first time I saw Rick play was in 1996, on that elevated stage at Big Horse Brew Pub, and I remember wondering, how the heck do you get your stuff up there? — Jim Drake

It’s difficult to single out a favorite memory I have of Rick Hulett. Memories spring up unexpectedly. Sometimes it is a song I hear on the radio, or I drive by a spot we played music together.

I played music with Rick on a steady basis over the last eight years. We traded emails and text messages daily on inspiring songs and musical ideas. He is my mentor, dear friend, teacher, and hero.

Here are just a few memories that spring to mind. We enjoyed a gig together on stage at the Aladdin Theater when we opened for Bettye Lavette. I cherish the memory of Rick and Bill Frisell hanging out in the recording studio last year. Rick loaned his uke to Bill, and then recorded a song with it.

I recall when Rick and I spent time with Emmylou Harris, Daniel Lanois, Brian Blade, and other world-class musicians at the Crystal Ballroom back in ‘06. We giggled like little kids for weeks after that.

Perhaps closest to my heart are the countless gigs we played together at The Pines, Solera, Everybody’s, the Trillium, and dozens of other places. We played hardware stores, libraries, dive bars, wineries, music festivals, weddings, parties, garages, back yards, random fields, and churches all over the Gorge.

I’ll miss his wisdom, humor, leadership, fire, and passion. I’ll miss his support and friendship. I’ll miss his songs and his blazing guitar work. He was a tower of a man, and I am so fortunate for witnessing his mastery, braveness, and grace.

Tim Ortlieb

Hood River

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