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A Celebration of Life for Larry Lewis Hoppen – blog Oct. 11 ’12

A Celebration of Life for Larry Lewis Hoppen

The invitation had gone out by email to a select group of friends and family. Some of us were to forward it to lists of our own, to reach those not on the initial list.


Intended to be invitation-only event, there was some concern that the “invitations” had spread a bit too far by way of “viral” Internet word of mouth. Some people had posted the information on Facebook without thinking; some posted it on their websites; there were even press releases in several local and online newspapers about the gathering. The job of “damage control” and “containment” fell to the event’s initiator and organizer, our dear old friend and musical comrade, Robbie Dupree. In the end, the place was comfortably filled by 150-200 souls who had every right and reason to be there. They were there to genuinely honor and say goodbye to Larry.

Some were still locals; some had come from many states away. Many I had not seen (or not seen much of) in the past few decades. But many of us bonded back in the growth spurts (and growing pains) of the 70s and 80s (even the 60s), and those roots run deep. I found it heart-warming to reconnect with so many good friends of Yestertime, and I believe they felt the same. All in all, it was a “family reunion” in all the best senses of the phrase.

DupreeRobbie did a yeoman’s job with all aspects of organizing this tribute, with special thanks going to Robert Frazza. Robert is also an old friend, former Orleans sound engineer (as well as that to many, many acts) and now the manager of the Theater. Together, they covered all the bases, making it look easy … when I know it was anything but.

The initial community time was followed by the words of several speakers, including Congressman Maurice Hinchey, Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, Johanna Hall (who read the editorial written by Bob Lefsetz, adding her own commentary), and a poetic reading by famed poet Ed Sanders. A few of Larry’s friends spontaneously added their testimonies and then we moved into the musical phase of the celebration.

The “production” was minimalist. No drums; no electric guitars; all acoustic instruments with the exception of my bass, which was used sparingly. In turn. in pairs, in groups, we each offered our pieces of the musical collage. The participants included …

Robbie Dupree, Bob Leinbach (with a beautiful rendition of “Forever”, with Bob’s daughter Anna on violin), John Jorgenson, Lance & Lane Hoppen, Fly Amero, John Hall, Happy Traum and John Sebastian, with support from Joe Bouchard and Charlie Shew.

Audio/video was captured of the entire event and a DVD is being made, but I do not believe it will ever be made available to the general public. It’s only for the commemorative value to the family.

After the fact, former Orleans drummer Charlie Shew took it upon himself to create a heartful tribute video for posting to YouTube, with pictures culled from the slideshow which ran continually during the gathering. It’s set to the all-too used and message-appropriate track of “Time Passes On”, with permission from the Halls.

For a beautifully touching 5-minute audio tribute to Larry’s life, created by Ray White at the syndicated radio show “Classic Artists Today“, please click the link below:

One to Remember – Larry Hoppen

3 to 7 PM, Sunday the 16th of September, 2012. Four hours from start to finish … and then it was over. Goodbyes were said; hugs, tears, smiles and well-wishes were shared. Some retired to the nearby bar and restaurant. Some went on their ways home. Some of us went back to my ex-wife Diane’s house, where we broke bread and finished our processing together.

Then some deep, restful, healing sleep. After all is said and done, tomorrow is another day.


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