Sunday, November 18, 2012

Remembering Michelle

Remembering Michelle...

Today is a day of great sadness for me and in the folk world of Florida at large. Michelle Moncrief Lowe passed away last week and her departure from this world will be felt by countless friends, fans and loved ones. She was a true hero of mine and an inspiration in my early days of wanting so much to be a musician in the Florida folk scene. She was one of a handful of ladies out there doing it, playing and singing her heart out, with great chops and vocals. I am grateful I was able to see her several times over the last year, only because, despite her illness, she continued to perform. 
What a gal she was.
I will never forget her or the many gifts she gave to me and The Florida Folk Tribe of which we are all so blessed to be a part. Below is a beautiful article written by Ron Johnson, friend, writer, singer/songwriter and musician I wanted to share with you all. 
Peace to you all dear friends as we mourn and celebrate the rich and giving life of Michelle Moncrief Lowe. 

November 9th, 2012

by Ron Johnson, Times Union

     In the early pre-dawn hours of November 8th, Michelle Lowe, a Florida musician and a great folk artist, passed on from this world. Her husband Steve was by her side. Michelle was a beautiful soul, celebrated within the Florida Folk family and she will be dearly missed by those who loved her.
     Michelle was primarily a bass player and she was referred to as "The Queen of Harmony." She is best known for her music and singing with one of the finest folk and vocal groups in the state, The Ashley Gang.
     Michelle Lowe grew up in the Winter Park area and eventually she began to play music in and around Gainesville. She was soon a regular, playing music throughout that area including Flagler Beach, Cody's Corner and Hog Town.
     Michelle later played throughout Florida and the Southeastern US area with Brouhaha and David Russell. Many remember her performances with Will McLean and Don Grooms, and they lobbied persistently for her talented vocal and bass accompaniment whenever they toured.
     Michelle began performing with folk singer and songwriter Joe Marks at  various folk festivals as well as clubs and music venues in and around St. Augustine. Joe and Michelle's music was a blend of traditional and contemporary themes that remain the substance and fabric of American folk music.
     Eventually she hooked up with Al Scortino and Paul Garfinkel, along with Norm McDonald, Bob Bronar and Kay Garfinkel to form one of the finest vocal and musical groups in the state, the Ashley Gang (named after the notorious bank robbing gang that was famously gunned down at Sebastian Bridge on November 15, 1924, as they attempted to make a getaway to Jacksonville).
     Michelle's and the Ashley Gangs use of harmony and vocals were (and remain) ledgendary. Songs like "The River Road," "Florida Sky," "I'm An American," "The Creek," "Crackertown," "Duval Nights" and their signature "The Day the Ashley Gang Went Down" are true Florida folk classics.They have built a significant fan following and are always one of the most popular groups to see at the shows and festivals they participate in.
     Today the Ashley Gang, directed primarily through the writings of Al Scortino and Paul Garfinkel, continue to produce some of the best CD's and songs ever written about the Sunshine State. They have recorded at least six outstanding CD's, their latest being "A Girl In Oklahoma."
     Michelle's love of her family (Becky & Jamie), husband Steve and her Mother (Lillian) was well known. Her passion for horses and especially music touched many hearts.
     Michelle's valiant struggle to overcome cancer ended early Thursday morning and her spirit was set free. A memorial service is currently being planned and will be announced by her family.
     Today, in Florida history, we acknowledge and celebrate Michelle Lowe, a Florida musician and superb talent, a beautiful lady who gave us years of friendship and the joy of music.

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