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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Dan Schatz Obit: Mike Holmes (18 Feb 2016) (4) Obit: Mike Holmes (2016) 19 Feb 16


I am very sorry to report that Mike Holmes died yesterday morning. Mike was one of the true gentlemen of folk music - as thoughtful and generous as he was knowledgable. Mike was the original Mugwump - and expert in the history and mechanics of vintage instruments. As such, he helped match many musicians with the right instruments for them. The Mugwumps website remains a treasure trove of good information.

I knew Mike my entire life, through the Folklore Society of Greater Washington. Mike's son Seth and I were good buddies at the various festivals, until the family moved back up to Massachusetts. It was several years before I ran into Mike again, but when I did (when I played the Eisteddfod Festival in Dartmouth, MA, in 1994), he and Rebecca made me feel like family all over again. It's hard to imagine a world without Mike in it.

Below is the official obituary - I encourage you also to read Lorraine Hammond's excellent article with Mike from Banjo Newsletter, just three years ago.

Dateline: Orleans, MA

Holmes, Michael I., age 74, passed away peacefully on Thursday, February 18, at Pleasant Bay Nursing Home, Brewster, MA. Born in Cambridge, MA, Michael grew up in Boston's Back Bay attending public schools and graduating from Boston Latin School in 1959. He continued his education at UMass Amherst and Northeastern, and completed his BA at the University of Washington, Seattle. He served in the Army from 1963-1966.

He is survived by his wife, Rebecca (Wollison), his daughter and her husband, Stacy and Marc Fournier, his son and his wife, Seth and Amanda Holmes, his granddaughter, Aileen Holmes, his brother-in-law, James Wollison, and his nephew, Will Wollison. He was predeceased by his parents, Mildred and Sidney Holmes.

When still a teenager, he met his wife-to-be, Rebecca, at Camp Mar-Ven in Wellfleet, MA. It was there he also developed an interest in folk music and playing the 5-string banjo. His interest in the music and the instruments led to a lifetime involvement in performance as a folk singer and in buying, selling and restoring stringed musical instruments. He played mandolin, guitar and banjo in a variety of bands and singing groups. Following a year of graduate school at Teachers' College, Columbia University, Mike worked as a community organizer for the United Jewish Appeal, followed by Director of Programming for the Jewish Community Council in South Bend, Indiana; and the Jewish War Veterans in Washington, DC. It was while living in the DC area that he became more involved in folk music. He was an active member of the Washington Folklore Society and the National Folk Festival at Wolf Trap Farm. He eventually became Chairman of the Board of the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) which sponsored the National Folk Festival. He also published a magazine, Mugwumps Instrument Herald, for collectors of vintage stringed instruments which eventually became an online vehicle for buying and selling instruments.

In 1983 he became a computer consultant, developing a case management program for Legal Services, first in Massachusetts and then nationwide. Upon his retirement from the computer business, he started Banjo Camp North, a weekend teaching camp for players and students of old-time and bluegrass banjo. He continued in this vein by adding Mandolin Camp North a few years later. After 15 years he sold the camps to friends and long-time participants in the Music Camps North venture.

After retiring to Cape Cod, Michael and Rebecca returned to their love of duplicate bridge, playing in various duplicate clubs on the Cape and eventually achieving Life Master status. Mike eventually became a Bronze Life Master.

The funeral will be held at Tifereth Israel Congregation, 11 AM, on Sunday, February 21. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Am HaYam, Box 1235, Brewster, MA 02631 or Tifereth Israel Congregation, 145 Brownell Avenue, New Bedford, MA 02740.


Dan Schatz


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