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WAM November 12-13 Peter Narvaez

Blues musician and educator Peter Narvaez passed away Friday morning after a struggle with cancer.

I first saw Peter Narvaez scramble onto stage in the Reid Theatre at Memorial University … gad, I don’t know when, 1974 I think. Someone presented a blues night at MUN - Peter Roberts was there, Jim Rillie and some others. Then Peter and his ball of unruly curly hair moved into the spotlight, clutching his guitar by the neck, his right hand decorated with finger picks. What followed beggared the imagination. He sounded like at least three people playing. And the songs. And the voice. Was this blues? Or Appalachian? Or jazz? Whatever it was, you could dance to it, too. Peter quickly became a part of the fabric of our community.

Many people knew Peter from his folklore and ethnomusicology work at Memorial. He taught at the Folklore department from 1974 until his retirement in 2005. Peter wrote serious treatises about humour at wakes and funerals, about fairies, about working people in mines and on the water. He taught about legend, and about Ron Hynes. Peter was one of the people responsible for bringing back to Newfoundland the recordings of Ted Russell and his Uncle Mose stories. He wrote about blues and rock ‘n’ roll and hispanic music and folk music.

Dr. Neil Rosenberg is a friend of Peter’s and is professor emeritus at the Folklore Department and, like Peter, Neil blends the life of an academic and a highly respected musician. He joins me on the line. Thank you, Neil. Let me tell you how deeply sad we are at the loss of your friend and colleague.

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