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Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)

27 May 15 - 06:35 AM (#3712090)
Subject: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Phil Cooper

I just saw on Facebook that Art Thieme has passed away. I had the privilege of knowing Art since the mid 1980's. We had the opportunity to drive him to a couple Folk Alliance conferences (one, where he was given a life time achievement award). Loved hearing his stories. RIP.

27 May 15 - 06:38 AM (#3712092)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme

I've the priviledge to talk with him here a couple of times. Sad to hear the news. RIP Art.

27 May 15 - 06:43 AM (#3712094)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: maeve

No words- here's the man:
Art Thieme sings Casey Jones

27 May 15 - 06:45 AM (#3712095)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Richard Bridge

Shame. He seemed a nice chap.

27 May 15 - 06:48 AM (#3712097)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: CapriUni

One of my favorite chat partners, back when MudChat was around. I will miss him.

27 May 15 - 07:13 AM (#3712103)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Megan L

My thoughts go to his family.

27 May 15 - 07:25 AM (#3712106)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: wysiwyg

RIP, and condolences to his wife, family, and friends.


27 May 15 - 07:29 AM (#3712108)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: GUEST,gillymor

The funniest guy I never met. Rest in peace, Art.

27 May 15 - 07:31 AM (#3712110)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: GUEST,#

RIP, Art.

27 May 15 - 07:52 AM (#3712121)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: GUEST,Mary Katherine

So sorry to hear this. Condolences to Carol and Chris.

27 May 15 - 07:53 AM (#3712123)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: gnu

Very sad news. RIP, Art... and thanks.

27 May 15 - 08:20 AM (#3712133)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: GUEST,Dani

I didn't know him in his musical past, but I will miss him as a gentle spirit here. He was very kind to me once when I reached out for help; deeply honest, generous and kind. I am grateful.

Warm wishes for you Thiemes, and may the good memories flow like the incoming tide and swallow your grief.


27 May 15 - 08:25 AM (#3712135)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Will Fly

RIP Art - a sad loss.

27 May 15 - 08:27 AM (#3712137)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Brian Peters

I was just listening to a CD of his in the car, thanks to Roy Harris who lent it to me. Nice, unpretentious singing, putting the song and story across well, good picking, and some interesting repertoire. We need more like that.

27 May 15 - 08:27 AM (#3712139)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme

A loss, no question about it. A lovely man. I'm so sorry.

27 May 15 - 08:42 AM (#3712146)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Roger the Skiffler

Yes, glad I've got a CD to remember him by, only met him here. obviously a rare and interesting man who experienced the American Folk scene over the decades.


27 May 15 - 08:43 AM (#3712148)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: bbc

So sorry to hear this news! I only knew him through mudcat & his music, but he was one of the great souls. He will live on, through our memories & his legacy of music (& wit). Safe passage, my friend!


27 May 15 - 08:48 AM (#3712151)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: GUEST,AllisonA (Animaterra)

Sorry to hear this. Art was so kind to me in the early days- I still have his musical map of the US somewhere. Go in peace, Art, and sing some songs with Sandy, Rick, Kat, Pete, Utah and Spaw and all the others.

The heavenly choir just get noisier and more boistrous as ol' Devil Time marches on.

27 May 15 - 08:52 AM (#3712154)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Little Robyn

Bye Art.

27 May 15 - 08:57 AM (#3712156)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: fat B****rd

RIP Mr.Thieme

27 May 15 - 09:36 AM (#3712171)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: GUEST,Gerry

Very sorry to read this. Fan of his from his days on the radio in the late 70s or early 80s.

27 May 15 - 09:52 AM (#3712174)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Dave the Gnome

A sad loss indeed. Condolences to all his family and friends.


27 May 15 - 10:02 AM (#3712179)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Bonnie Shaljean

A terrible loss. I'm so sorry to hear this.

R.I.P. Art.

27 May 15 - 10:11 AM (#3712180)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Sandra in Sydney

I'll miss him - we corresponded on occasion over the years.

Years ago he sent me & Bob Bolton an MP3 (title Everything - Art Thieme) of concerts dating back to 1978 & Bob converted them to a collection of CDs.

I'm currently listening to "Come to the hills" from 'Live at No Exit' 16 February '78.

RIP Art, & condolences to Carol & Chris & his family


27 May 15 - 10:12 AM (#3712181)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Stilly River Sage

Our late Katlaughing (Kat LaFrance) had regular conversations with Art over the years, so I want to note the condolences that surely would have come from her.

I spoke to Art a number of times over the years, and know he had a special fondness for the members of Mudcat. Twice we rallied and sent new computers to Art. On the first occasion he was preparing to process his music and photo collection to donate to the Smithsonian and his computer died. After consultation amongst ourselves we researched computers, software, discs, and more, and pooled resources to send the computer and materials. The second time was to send a laptop with a touch screen that would allow him more access to the world outside as Multiple Schlerosis slowly compressed his ability to use the standard mouse and keyboard.

Condolences to Art's wife Carol and son Chris and his family - don't be strangers.

Art Thieme posts when he was logged on (there are lots of guest Art Thieme posts also)

Here is the text of an article about Art that Kat posted in 2006:

Lynn Van Matre

The year was 1959, and Americans were humming the chorus of "Tom Dooley," the Kingston Trio hit that catapulted folk music to the top of pop charts a year earlier. In Chicago, the urban folk scene was in full flower, with clubs like the Gate of Horn and Mother Blues drawing standing-room only crowds and prompting countless would-be troubadours to take up guitar or banjo.

One of those budding musicians was teenager Art Thieme, who hung out at clubs with other young hopefuls like David Crosby and Cass Elliot. The fledgling folkie made his performing debut that December at a coffeehouse in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood.

"The admission was $1, and the deal was that I got 25 percent of the door," Mr. Thieme recalls. "I went home with 25 cents."

The fad for traditional folk songs eventually ran its course; by the mid-1960's the Beatles had invaded America and rock reigned supreme. Young performers like Crosby and Elliot left Chicago and the traditional scene to join folk-rock pop groups such as the Byrds and the Mamas and the Papas.

But Art Thieme had fallen in love with the old tunes, songs from the American experience that told what he calls "the camaraderie and hopes and dreams and tragedies of real folks." Over the next four decades he would perform the ballads he loved at venues throughout the Midwest and beyond, forging a reputation as a topflight interpreter of American traditional music and a captivating storyteller with a penchant for puns.

Today, at 64, Mr. Thieme qualifies as something if an elder statesman the traditional folk scene, and he keeps his hand in on several fronts. His column, "The Unreconstructed Folksinger," appears on the Plank Road Music Society Web site (, maintained by Chicago area folkies.

Plans call for a retrospective CD to be released later in 2006 by Folk-Legacy records (, home to two earlier Thieme CDs. Most recently, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. contacted Mr. Theime about acquiring for their archives – and possible display – hundreds of pictures the amateur photographer has taken of folk performers over the years.

Slowed Down

But the longtime Chicago folk fixture no longer performs in public due to multiple sclerosis, diagnosed in the mid-1990's. The disease causes him problems with mobility, short-term memory and manual dexterity. Mr. Thieme acknowledges that dealing with MS is far more challenging than the difficulties he encountered in decades on the road.

"It's frustrating as hell to not be able to play my instruments," says Mr. Thieme, who accompanied himself in performances on guitar, banjo, and musical saw. "I miss that more than I can ever say. But I go forward day by day.

"The calluses on my fingers are gone because I can't fret my instruments, but my hide is thicker and tougher," he adds. "I can take more now than I could in earlier times, because I'm learning to take what comes rather than always trying to control the uncontrollable."

Mr. Theime spends part of his days taking care of Carol, his wife of 38 years, who has battled severe depression for more than a decade.

"I take care of her and she takes care of me," he says. The couple shares an apartment in Peru, Ill., where they moved in the 1980s to provide better schooling for their son, Chris, now grown.

"With me being a folksinger, we couldn't afford to live in the Chicago suburbs that had good schools," Mr. Thieme says. "So we came to Peru, which was a good move. I was on the road a lot, and Carol stayed home to raise our son."

In addition to playing clubs and festivals, Mr. Thieme performed in Chicago-area schools for more than 20 years as part of the Urban Gateways arts education program. His summers often were spent on the Mississippi River, playing for passengers on excursion boats running between Le Claire, Iowa, and Galena, Ill. His days on the riverboats taught him a number of things, not the least of which was patience.

"Our boat would go through locks twice every day," Mr. Thieme explains. "If we got to the locks with no tows ahead of us, we would lock through in maybe 30 or 40 minutes. But if we were behind a 'double tow' – we had no choice except to wait while they broke the barges in two parts and put each half through separately."

'Another lock delay'

"It took me a couple of years to realize it wasn't in my best interest to get ticked off at the fickle finger of fate. After that, (during delays) I just looked around and gloried in the beauty and serenity that was all around me. So now, I try to remind myself that it's just another lock delay – time to look around and see what amazing floats are coming along in the never-ending aquatic parade. All of us have our own private river that is our personal Grail hunt, our personal adventure.

"I wish I could see it that way all the time," Mr. Thieme adds. "I can't; none of us can. We all have plenty of times we can practice, though."

Longtime Appalachian folksinger Jean Ritchie recalls hearing Mr. Thieme the first time in the late 1960s and being impressed with the youthful performer.
"My husband, George Pickow, and I were doing a cross-country tour (that included) a booking at a coffeehouse in Milwaukee," says Ms. Ritchie. "I was kind of nervous, but my host said, 'Oh, are you lucky! One of our most treasured local folks has requested that he be on the bill with you tonight.' He ushered me into the little artist's-lurking-room and there was a big bunch of garden flowers, and Art Thieme standing beside it, grinning.

"It was a wonderful evening for me. Art did the opening spot, doing a few songs I knew and several I had never heard before but liked a lot, and then he told a long, funny story. By the time I went onstage, my nervousness was all gone. Art radiates warmth and fun."

By the mid-1970s, Mr. Thieme had begun recording, first for a California record label called Kicking Mule and later for Connecticut-based Folk-Legacy. In addition to the retrospective "Chicago and Points West," Folk-Legacy founder Sandy Paton says the label plans to release a CD of Thieme's shows aboard the Mississippi riverboat the "Julia Belle Swain."

"I can think of no one in the so-called 'folk revival' more capable of holding an audience spellbound with his presentation of traditional ballads and songs," Mr. Paton says. "If we can help Art receive even a part of the national recognition he deserves, we are willing to work hard to do so."

Mr. Thieme enjoys recalling stories from his early days on the folk scene, including the time author Nelson Algren bought the fledgling troubadour a beer.

"It was the first beer I ever had in a bar," Mr. Thieme says. "It was at the original Second City, on Clark Street. I would hang out there drinking Cokes and listening to the cool conversations. Algren kept after me to have a beer, but they wouldn't serve me because I was too young. So one day he slid his beer down the bar to me and winked at the bartender, who just turned around, exasperated."

Mr. Thieme , whose early influences included the New Lost City Ramblers, Odetta and Chicago street musicians Blind Arvella Gray, says he believed – and still believes – that the main job of a true folksinger is to explore and preserve the past.

"Modern singer-songwriters look at today's personal dramatic situations and traumas," he says. "Some of today's songwriters will become legends, but from where I sit, most of them will not become folksingers. It's only when songs are a result of looking at people of the past, and studying how they chronicled their lives, that they're real folk songs. That's what it comes to, in a nutshell, to me. I considered myself a folksinger about 60 per cent of the time – maybe a little more, I hope."


27 May 15 - 10:13 AM (#3712182)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Mrrzy

Aw man, the vanguard advances. So very sorry. Love to the family and the rest of the Mudcat.

27 May 15 - 10:18 AM (#3712185)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Padre

May he rest in peace.


27 May 15 - 10:36 AM (#3712191)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Benjamin

Thank you for contributions and for everything you shared in your music and in your life! We will always miss you and remember you Art!

27 May 15 - 10:42 AM (#3712193)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Cool Beans

I knew him only through recordings and Mudcat, but I liked him very much. RIP, Art.

27 May 15 - 10:51 AM (#3712195)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Alice

My sympathy goes out to Art's family. He was a very special man and a very special musician. A treasure to the Mudcat community here, rest in peace, Art.

Alice in Montana

27 May 15 - 11:14 AM (#3712197)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Bill D

I had the good fortune to see Art live several times during his prime, and bantered with him on Mudcat after he joined. He also provided me with a couple of treasured by just knowing an obscure song, and one by duplicating an unpublished tape of a mutual friend who has also passed away.

Art was a treasure.... a singer, a generous source of knowledge, a raconteur, a gentleman, and a fighter who made the best of the sad hand life dealt him in his later years.

Miss him? I have missed him for quite awhile already... but this is different.

Bye Art... and thank you for everything

27 May 15 - 11:45 AM (#3712202)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: GUEST,Don Meixner

Art was a friend. I'll miss him.


27 May 15 - 12:16 PM (#3712210)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Amos

Art Thieme is a great spirit and was a top-drawer human being. He was a truly decent man. And he was a highly accomplished performer whose versions of numerous songs are classics. I learned a lot just from listening to him tell his stories (remember the Lock Moss Nesters?) and sing his songs. He could make you roll on the floor laughing and seconds later have you weeping sympathetic tears. (It was so cold in Chicago an exhibitionist came up to me and described himself, thats how cold it was!)

But I am glad he's free of the surly bonds, out where he can sing as loud and as long as he wants to now.


27 May 15 - 12:17 PM (#3712211)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Elmore

Sorry to hear this.I enjoyed his music and his posts on Mudcat. It seems that Art handled his health issues with great courage.

27 May 15 - 12:21 PM (#3712215)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: GUEST,Dharmabum

Rest in peace Art.
Thanks for the music.


27 May 15 - 12:26 PM (#3712217)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: RoyH (Burl)

Art my friend. I'm sad that you are gone, but I take consolation in knowing that the pain and frustrations your illness gave you are now over. Thank you for the music,the stories,and the pleasure of your company. Rest in Peace. Condolences to Carol and Chris.

27 May 15 - 12:35 PM (#3712219)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: PHJim

I didn't know Art personally, but it's hard to be involved in the folk community and not know about him and his "This Machine Kills Time" banjo head.

Condolences to his friends and family.

27 May 15 - 12:37 PM (#3712221)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: frogprince

Another of the real good ones gone : ( I had opportunity to see Art just a bit around the Chicago folk scene before moving from that area thirty years ago. He was one of the most positive and entertaining contributors here so long as he was able. Certainly one of the world's masters of the utterly shameless pun. Rest in peace, Art, and condolences to the family.

          Dean Elkins

27 May 15 - 12:46 PM (#3712226)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme

Art was an engaging performer and a tireless researcher of the old songs and their origins. He share much with me on the old songs and it was fun to compare notes as it were. I will miss his cheerful additions to this forum.


27 May 15 - 01:06 PM (#3712235)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: GUEST,Guest (Tracy)

Throughout all those years on the road it was always a great pleasure whenever Art was there too.
Rest in Peace, Art!

27 May 15 - 01:06 PM (#3712236)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: babypix

Art was a dear friend, an encourager, and inspiration. He was family. As a Chicagoan (now transplanted), I cannot remember when his name wasn't around the folk scene. He was indeed, our "Master of the Sheepfold". The world won't be the same without him. And neither shall we.

with deepest sadness from Deborah Robins (and Larry Hanks)

27 May 15 - 01:17 PM (#3712238)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme

A kind, gentle man. RIP, Art.

27 May 15 - 01:24 PM (#3712239)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Mark Ross

A shining example of what a folksinger should be and do. I used to call him up every once in a while to trade jokes and stories. A very bright light has gone out.

Mark Ross

27 May 15 - 01:28 PM (#3712241)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Deckman

Someone recemtly told me that "we do what we do because we love what we do" ... Art was that kind of person and he certainly enriched my life. bob(deckman)nelson

27 May 15 - 01:32 PM (#3712242)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: JedMarum

I was so saddened to see this news; so sad to Art's passing. He was a jewel to the world, especially to the world of folk music. My thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones. My eternal thanks to Mudcat, where Art's thoughts, wisdom and humor will "shine" for years to come!!

27 May 15 - 01:47 PM (#3712244)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: BigDaddy

Art was always one of those that made Mudcat a warm, welcoming place. His passing will leave another big hole in the fabric of the Mudcat quilt. R.I.P., Art.

27 May 15 - 02:19 PM (#3712247)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Bert

Bye Old Fella.

27 May 15 - 02:21 PM (#3712248)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Morticia

So. so sorry to hear this.

27 May 15 - 02:32 PM (#3712250)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme
From: Joe Offer

I suppose we all knew this was coming, but it still hurts so bad. I always meant to call him on the phone, or to stop and visit when I was in the Midwest. I came so close to doing that a number of times, but never did. I guess it wasn't meant to be.

But we shared so much online and by mail, and that was wonderful. Art, thank you for everything you have been to so many of us.


27 May 15 - 03:14 PM (#3712256)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Rex

I will keep telling the tale of his Western road trip where he met Del Bray in a saloon in Cheyenne and learned the cowboy version of Barbara Allen. That was in 1960 when he came out West with a friend. In a microbus of course.

Rex (signed in now)

27 May 15 - 03:46 PM (#3712264)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: GUEST,GUEST - Paul Stamler

I had the great privilege of working with Art over the years; I recorded concerts he did at Focal Point, and house concerts in my living room. Later, after his illness forced him to stop performing, we worked together on producing the retrospective album on Waterbug "The Older I Get, The Better I Was". I never worked harder on a project, and was never better rewarded -- by Art's friendship and example. He was one of a kind -- well, we all are, but Art was more so. I'll miss him; we all will. My deepest condolences to his family.


27 May 15 - 04:01 PM (#3712267)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Mark Clark

I saw Chris' post on Facebook early this morning. I've been too overcome with sadness to think of much to say. I guess I feel like James Taylor "I always thought I'd see you one more time again."

Art was among the first folksingers I met upon moving to Chicago in 1963. His scholarship and devotion to tradition put him, in my eyes, way above most of the people performing around Chicago in those days. That and he tastefully picked his guitar instead of just strumming it as most of them did. Over the years we wound up on some of the same shows together and I always loved those occasions. For a while we lived pretty close to each other in the Newtown area and sometimes we'd have a chance to sit and talk. He once gave me a computer printout a friend of his had done calculating all the possible right hand picking patterns for guitar. Sometimes Art would pull that out and try a few more just to see if he could come up with a new approach to a tune. I once gave him an old 12-string guitar I didn't want anymore. I think maybe his had been stolen or something. I can't remember.

Geez, I still can't think of any words. Sadness…

      - Mark

27 May 15 - 05:37 PM (#3712303)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: ChanteyLass

My sympathy to Art's family, friends, and fans.

27 May 15 - 05:48 PM (#3712311)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Wesley S

Sad. Another good man gone.....

27 May 15 - 07:03 PM (#3712326)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: GUEST,Sandy Andina

Alas--one magnificent voice gone from the choir, one magnanimous friend of folk (and friend to so many) no longer among us.

27 May 15 - 07:49 PM (#3712330)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: kendall

This makes me want to weep. What a swell guy he was, and what a talent. I had the pleasure of working with him at the Hartford folk festival many years ago.
RIP old pal.

27 May 15 - 07:59 PM (#3712334)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Leadfingers

R I P Art !!!

27 May 15 - 08:34 PM (#3712345)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Janie

Thanks to all who knew or met him in 3D for sharing your memories.

Rest in Peace, Art.

Deepest condolences to his family and all who loved him.

27 May 15 - 10:23 PM (#3712359)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: GUEST,Rapparee

One of Illinois most important citizens -- and one of its most important musical figures -- and one of the best Mudcitizens -- has found it needful to leave us temporarily. Itt a musical pause, not a finale.

27 May 15 - 10:46 PM (#3712365)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Ebbie

Another family member gone. But, as a wise friend once pointed out to me, only the physical connection has been broken... RIP, Art.

28 May 15 - 12:08 AM (#3712382)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: dick.hamlet

I never saw Art perform, and never met him. But his recordings are
treasures that I continually mine for the the songs he made his own,
and brought out so the rest of us could have them too. I hear his
voice in my head all the time, and that will not fade.

28 May 15 - 12:35 AM (#3712384)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Stewie

Such sad news. He was a beaut bloke. We exchanged many recordings over a number of years. He generously sent me some rare stuff. Vale Art. He will be missed. My condolences to his family.


28 May 15 - 04:10 AM (#3712421)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: vectis

Sorry to hear this. I never met him but enjoyed many of his posts and comments here on Mudcat. Condolences to his wife and family. Mary Barr ex UK now New Zealand.

28 May 15 - 06:40 AM (#3712460)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)

Oh my, the memories. Art at the No Exit every Thursday night (we're talking the late 1970's here), where I would soak up everything he so willingly "taught." One of my first out-of-town singing trips was with Art and Jim Craig, at the old Ark (when it was still in the house) in Ann Arbor. I felt like I was getting to play with the big kids. Now we are the big kids, and Art's no longer breathing the same air.

28 May 15 - 07:03 AM (#3712464)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Pete Jennings

RIP Art.

28 May 15 - 09:32 AM (#3712489)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: GUEST,Sheila

Although I knew Art Thieme only from Mudcat posts, I always felt the decency, integrity and kindness in his thoughts and responses.
My sympathies go to the family.

28 May 15 - 09:51 AM (#3712495)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Steve Parkes

Like Sheila, I only knew Art through the Mudcat. He had all those qualities -- and the wonderful gift of being outrageous without being offensive. Well, not much anyway!

Goodbye Art, I'll miss you.

28 May 15 - 11:41 AM (#3712514)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Bill D

How Art Thieme learned what Mudcat can do... and gave us one of the classic threads

(Not what you wished to be remembered for, Art? ....never mind, it's just one silly memory among all the wonderful stuff you gave us.)

28 May 15 - 01:00 PM (#3712535)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Ernest

RIP Art Thieme.

Another good one of those people that inspired me to join the mudcat is gone.

28 May 15 - 01:10 PM (#3712536)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Elijah Browning

My favorite, Bill D?
Which ever brand Dad forgot to use at least once 9 months prior to June 1970.
Thanks for the smile
Chris (C.T.) Thieme

28 May 15 - 06:42 PM (#3712634)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Desert Dancer

I only knew him from the 'Cat -- but that's more than enough to recognize a great loss to friends, family, and the musical world.

Art Thieme, longtime Chicago folk musician, dies

By Tony Briscoe
Chicago Tribune
May 28, 2015

Arthur "Art" Thieme, a Chicago folk musician who took his intimate style of storytelling and humor across the country while remaining a mainstay at local venues for nearly four decades, has died, his son said Wednesday. He was 73.

Thieme earned a reputation as a master of the American folk ballad, often playing the six- and nine-string guitar or five-string banjo and occasionally the violinlike musical saw. Regardless of instrumentation, his performance was always highlighted by his comfortable demeanor and comical use of puns and wordplay.

Thieme died of complications related to multiple sclerosis Tuesday night in Crystal Lake, where he lived with his wife in a nursing home, said his son, Chris Thieme.

"His music, the way he could take an entire auditorium of people and make them feel like they were in his living room, he just had that way about him," Chris Thieme said. "He was a great person, a great man."

A Chicago native, Thieme grew up playing the guitar as a teenager, frequenting the beatnik clubs of the late 1950s and early 1960s. He later became captivated by historic stories while working as a manager at the Old Town School of Folk Music. He incorporated many historic stories into his music, like his 1986 performance of "Mr. Garfield," a sung-and-spoken piece about the 1881 assassination of President James Garfield.

"He loved traditional songs, stories from all around country, all around America," Chris Thieme said. "He primarily was a folklorist. He loved the idea of preserving parts of American history that otherwise would be lost."

The school is also where Thieme met his wife, Carol. Shortly after the couple married and traveled the country, they returned to Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood. Thieme gravitated to the coffeehouse ambience and creative crowd at the Rogers Park establishment No Exit Cafe, a venue he played every Thursday for much of his career — including Thanksgivings.

"He had been in the folk scene, and so it had been germinating at that point whether he wanted to do it full-time," Thieme said. "When my mom told him she was pregnant with me, he walked to Lake Michigan and thought and said, 'Let's make a go of it,' and he never looked back."

In 1977, Thieme released his first of seven albums, "Outright Bold-Faced Lies." Chris Thieme said his father's favorite was "On the Wilderness Road," released in 1986.

Art Thieme passed the music bug along to Chris, who performed his father's songs as recently as two weeks ago at a Lake County venue.

Thieme lost his playing ability in the mid-1990s, around the time he was diagnosed with MS. He still released a collection of his live performances in 2006, "Art Thieme Live: Chicago Town & Points West."

Thieme is also survived by his brother Richard and five grandchildren.

29 May 15 - 05:13 AM (#3712711)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Nigel Paterson

My sincere condolences to Art Thieme's Family & Friends. A great loss for so many people & for so many reasons,
                                              Nigel Paterson.

29 May 15 - 06:34 AM (#3712731)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: GUEST, Guest overthebar

So sad, RIP Art

29 May 15 - 09:16 AM (#3712772)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: deepdoc1

Gone to the great turtle roundup in the sky. I will miss Art's presence on the 'cat, but he left us with a grande catalogue of Thieme music, humor and heart. I toast these remembrances of a life well lived.

29 May 15 - 10:21 AM (#3712788)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: olddude

I have no words goodbye my friend. Thank you for all you did for me

29 May 15 - 10:50 AM (#3712795)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: olddude

wrote this for Art and had it on my CD. He did so much to encourage me
old picker

No words. We lost a treasure

29 May 15 - 11:23 AM (#3712805)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Rapparee

There was a great write-up on Art in yesterday's Chicago Tribune, page 8, above the fold.

29 May 15 - 11:42 AM (#3712815)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Abby Sale

One of the true Greats - both for folk song and for humans.

A presence.

29 May 15 - 12:07 PM (#3712826)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Lonesome EJ

So sorry to hear that Art is gone. When I first came to this forum in 1999, Art told a story about the tuba player who suffered a terrible accident when he was caught in a high wind and was screwed into the ground. I immediately liked his goofy and irreverent sense of humor, and his stories about his days in coffee shops and on the road. He got tired once with all the non-music bs that was going on in the forum, and he started the famous "What Kind of Condom do Mudcatters Wear?" thread, which was the first really big thread in the forum and one of the funniest. He will be remembered for that great voice and those great stories.

29 May 15 - 12:21 PM (#3712833)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Amos

God bless Bill D for resurrecting the Condom Thread. It would get a rise out of anyone. Art would be proud, and the classic joys of those innocent times are a fine reminder of his best and brightest (and funniest) spirit.

I am going to refrain from putting out a long string of puns about rubbernecking.

Adieu, Art. Thank you so very much for making our vale of tears ring with laughter and music.

29 May 15 - 01:23 PM (#3712853)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Duane D.

Caroline Paton requested me to add her note to Mudcat.        

         May 27, 2015

        Yesterday we lost one of the great ones.
        Art Thieme was the real deal, a consummate teller in story and song, an icon of Americana. Further more, he was a beautiful person, a real "mensch."
        My husband, Sandy, met Art in Chicago in 1960 or 1961. Sandy was selling folk records in a big store downtown. As I recall, Art was in high school then, and working part-time in another music store nearby. He'd come over on his breaks and he and Sandy would "Walk each other's minds..." (a reference to a line in "Go With Me," a song by Rosalie Sorrels)
        It was a lifelong bond.
        Our heartfelt condolences to Carol and Chris and his family.

        Caroline Paton
        Sharon, CT.

29 May 15 - 03:19 PM (#3712881)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Chris C

I too am saddened to hear of Art's passing. We never met; I knew him through the Mudcat, and we exchanged CD's and such through the mail for a time. He also generously gave me permission to reprint some of his many wonderful recollections about the music scene in 1960's Chicago. I extend my condolences to Art's family and friends. I know he'll be greatly missed.
~Chris C.

29 May 15 - 06:17 PM (#3712917)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: YorkshireYankee

I didn't know Art well... I'd enjoyed his playing, singing, stories and puns at festivals (when I lived in the US), then had the privilege of visiting him and Carol a few times in Crystal Lake during the last 2-3 years (when I was in the area). I could see what lovely people he was/she is; gentle, kind-hearted, thoughtful, loving people trying to make the best of a difficult situation. Wish I could have visited more... and so sad that Art is no longer physically with us.

I find myself thinking, however much we all miss him, it must be so much harder for his family – especially Carol. The two of them have kept each other company for so long... (and Carol's mother passed away early this month – quite the double whammy!).

My sincere sympathies to Carol, Chris and the rest of the family. Like everyone else, I hope Art is enjoying being able to play his guitar again.

Rest in Peace.

YY/Vikki Appleton Fielden

29 May 15 - 06:19 PM (#3712919)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: GUEST,Guy Wolff

I stopped by Mudcat today to look at the words to "Turnip Greens" and I said to the researcher on this song 'I wonder what Art Theime or Joe Offer said about this one".. So sorry to hear this news .. The old guard at Mudcat all were so great to me in the early days of the internet music family .. My spelling is a little better now that they have spellcheck on these things .. So see you later Art and so glad to have known you here .. Hello to all my other old friends here !! yours Guy <>><><><><><><><>

29 May 15 - 11:42 PM (#3712968)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: GUEST,M.Ted

I remember seeing him, many times, many places, in Michigan, back when folk music was really folk music. Everybody has it right, he really was the best...

30 May 15 - 12:58 AM (#3712977)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Stilly River Sage

Even as Art was fully impacted by the MS, when he couldn't play an instrument any more, he could still talk, and his voice still had that quality that you hear in his music. It came through on the phone. Paxton's "I Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound" gives you a chance to hear it (without audience noise that is on a lot of other songs posted at YouTube).

There's a lot of Art Thieme on YouTube.


30 May 15 - 08:39 AM (#3713051)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Andrez

Australia's such a long way away but Art's music and words and wit touched some of us over here too. My condolences and best wishes to Art's family and everyone else touched by his being.

Rest in peace,


30 May 15 - 09:48 AM (#3713070)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: frogprince

This may be a somewhat goofy reflection, but;
Art had "This machine kills time" on his banjo head. Obviously the inspiration from Woody's "This machine kills fascists" was there, but I would suspect Art did it primarily as a gentle joke. I wonder if even Art himself ever thought of a deeper implication that I find quite appropriate: Few have been as dedicated as Art to keeping the treasure of older folk material alive. When he performed, we became "unstuck in time"; the time between the creation of the song and his performance of it effectively ceased to exist for us.

30 May 15 - 12:44 PM (#3713145)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: CupOfTea

This is a passing that diminishes the foundation of folk tradition. Art was a huge influence and/or beloved friend to those who formed the folk world I got wrapped up in when I lived outside of Chicago, in Dekalb. In trips back, I was fortunate enough to spend time in his orbit, meet Carol, cherish the times.

Over the years, I got to see quite a bit of prime Artness. Sets that were one song long, but interwoven, verse by verse with extraordinarily TALL tales, marveling at the repertoire that seemed to have no end, watching the total hilarity as he and Dan Kedding demonstrated the weird in folk instruments - his saw, of course, but nose flutes too.

I loved knowing how some songs I loved in others' repertoires came from Art's singing. I got to see him be appreciated as he deserved not just at Mudcat, but at Augusta Heritage Workshops and Folk Alliance. The last time I saw him, at Fox Valley, was with Mark Dvorak as instrumental backup and sort of interviewer. I hope Mark, or someone else, carries on carrying on like Art, with tall tall tales and stories.

The south had Gamble Rogers to treasure, but Illinois had Art. Thank you, and well sung, sir.

Joanne in Cleveland

31 May 15 - 05:52 AM (#3713320)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Waddon Pete

I was away from home when the news broke. Like Olddude, I have no words. We all knew this day would come sooner or later and we all hoped it would be later. However, he has found peace and rest. He has also left behind a wealth of songs and stories for us to carry forward. as he often said, "You may groan...but you'll be telling it yourself tomorrow." Indeed we will. Thanks Art.

I have added Art to the "in Memoriam" thread.



31 May 15 - 06:52 PM (#3713487)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)

Scott Alarik remembers Art Thieme and reprises an essay about him here:

31 May 15 - 07:41 PM (#3713502)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Sandra in Sydney

Scott Alarik remembers Art Thieme

31 May 15 - 08:36 PM (#3713509)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: bbc

Wonderful article by Scott Alarik. I've seen him perform & he sang Art's songs & told his jokes. Great!


31 May 15 - 09:02 PM (#3713512)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: GUEST,Barbara

Don't forget to pray for the dead 

01 Jun 15 - 01:30 PM (#3713701)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: olddude

Last night I went through the cds and songbooks Art gave me. His hand written notes he put in. Very sad yet priceless to me as he wanted me to have them. I will miss him so

02 Jun 15 - 07:50 PM (#3714100)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: olddude

Just heard back from Don Lange. Art recorded his song Here's to the rounders on one of his CD.

Hi Dan,

We're saddened by the news. Art and I kept in touch intermittently throughout the years. He really liked Oregon (he lived here in the late sixties) but, alas, was never able to come to see us. What a great spirit he was. Probably still is! And his music lives on. He did such a great rendition of "Rounders". All in all, though, it's very sad news.

Thanks for reaching out to let me know.

Take care,


03 Jun 15 - 07:44 AM (#3714186)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: Phil Cooper

At the 2000 Folk Alliance, in Cleveland, we brought Art to get honored by the powers that be. Jean Richie was there. Art asked if she wanted to have a wheel chair race. She took it in good humor. Alan Lomax, not so much.

03 Jun 15 - 09:01 PM (#3714336)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)
From: maeve

Good story, Phil. Thanks.


04 Jun 15 - 03:00 PM (#3714475)
Subject: RE: Obit: Art Thieme (1941-2015)

Here's a video of Art from 1980 singing "Rye Whiskey Medley". R.I.P.