with Lisa Cowden

A Rockin-N-Stompin Farewell to Wesley Robertson

The KVMR and Strawberry Music Festival communities will come together at noon Saturday, March 17 at the Miners Foundry in Nevada City to celebrate the life of Wesley Robertson.

Robertson had hosted “Rockin-N-Stompin” from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturdays on KVMR 89.5 FM since 1990. He was an integral part of the non-profit station’s volunteer corps for more than 30 years and a passionate proponent of live music programming and festival broadcasts.

He produced the station’s live broadcasts of California Worldfest, the High Sierra Music Festival, the KVMR Celtic Festival, Hangtown Halloween, the American River Music Festival and On the Road Live. More recently, he co-hosted “The Beer Show” once a month on KVMR with Tom Dalldorf.

Robertson died March 4 at Sutter Roseville Medical Center after an automobile accident in Grass Valley. His wife, Mo Fitzpatrick, and daughter, Jaimie Robertson, were at his side, and he was listening to tunes by his beloved Willie Nelson.

 

Friends, fans in shock

Words have continued to fail Robertson’s legion of friends and fans as they process the shock and grief of his passing. It’s hard to say it better than Joe Craven did in a post on Facebook that lovingly captured the complications and colors of Robertson’s musical life:

“I’m at a loss for words. My heart is aching. He was always Rockin' & Stompin' at KVMR and all 'round this crazy world. What a blessing to have known this Ambassador of Music, Community and Artful Living. He was a cheerleader, matchmaker, mischief-maker, educator, enthusiast, entertainer . . . and humanitarian with a microphone. He was off the cuff, available in the moment. He was always part of the team . . . and he blazed his own trails.

“He was a curator, a connoisseur, a confidant and a beloved character. Like many radio personalities, he led a magical, wondrous and creative double life. He was a voice of weekly comfort, a friend to us on the airwaves, the web and with a warm handshake and hug on the street. He was a footbridge to musical magic at one of your favorite music festivals.”

 

Bound to the music

Craven’s post continued: “His heart, his art was bound to the music . . . and like us all, he is bound to go away. Not yet, dear friend. Are you really gone? Yes, and yet you never will be. We love you so. You are for the ages for those so fortunate to know your voice, your passions, your knowledge, your friendship. You will always have a place at the table of my heart. I remove my hat, fill my glass and tip it to you. Honey, where is my fiddle? I want to play a Rockin' & Stompin’ tune for my friend Wesley Robertson.”

Craven will be bringing that fiddle Saturday afternoon. Also expected to be on hand are Robertson’s 94-year-old mother and his siblings, who want to celebrate his life with his radio and Strawberry Music Festival friends. 

The event, hosted by Robertson’s wife and daughter, is a potluck, and guests are invited to bring Wesley’s favorite food: pizza. A memorial fund has been created at www.gofundme.com/Rockin-Stompin.

 

Membership drive memories

Thomas Greener, host of KVMR’s “Ragged But Right,” recalled: “The times I spent with Wes are indelibly etched in my mind and heart. Before membership drives at KVMR, we would almost always meet at his place in Auburn to ‘set our plan.’ We would spend hours going through and listening to stuff that we wanted to use, often saying together, ‘We can’t play that,’ then finding ‘reasons’ that we should. Often we were laughing so hard we just had to stop for a while.

“The station will never be the same, and at this point I have no idea how I’m going to get through the next membership drive with Wesley not there.”

Broadcaster Allen Aastrom remembered: “I had the good fortune of being tangled up with Wesley the last 15 years, engineering and producing live music broadcasts for KVMR.  The endeavors would often start with him calling me on the phone to ask, ‘Can Allen come out and play?’  Fun was always a requirement.  I am sure going to miss those calls.” 

 

He ‘radiated enthusiasm’

 “What I’ll always remember about Wesley is how much passion, love, and charm could fill up that man,” Aastrom says.  “He radiated enthusiasm and endeared so many people because the little things in life mattered to him.  Wesley would often say, ‘Life is what happens when you are busy making plans.’ ”
  

KVMR General Manager Julie Chiarelli said of Robertson: “Most of us have dreams.  Wesley lived his dreams.  He had passion and a tremendous love of music and for the people in his community.  Everyone he met was a friend and every day of his life was a testament to what he valued.  We are sad beyond words.”

 

Know and Go

WHAT: Celebrating Wesley: A potluck celebration of the life and times of Wesley Robertson

WHERE: The Miners Foundry Cultural Center, 325 Spring St., Nevada City

WHEN: Noon to 4 p.m. Speeches and greetings at noon; music and jam session at 1 p.m.

INFO: www.gofundme.com/Rockin-Stompin