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Focus On: Friend of Mine: The Bill Morrissey Tribute Concert

Bill Morrissey was a songwriter's songwriter. Beginning with his first eponymous album in 1984, Morrissey established himself as a musical voice of the people, garnering Grammy Award nominations and 4-star reviews in Rolling Stone in the course of his rich career. Morrissey was also a published author, completing his second novel ("Imaginary Runner") before his death. He was loved by many of his peers as a truly literate writer whose hard scrabble characters and fast wit won him critical acclaim.

On July 23, 2011, Morrissey died as a result of heart disease in a hotel room in Dalton, GA. He was on his way to visit his mother in Pennsylvania after a successful tour through the American Southeast.

In November 2011, a group of fellow artists came together for a tribute concert at the Somerville Theatre in Somerville, MA with proceeds to go to MusiCares. Musicians performed Morrissey songs and a few of their own works in a celebration of Bill Morrissey's life. Hosted by World Cafe's David Dye and singer/songwriter Cliff Eberhardt, the event included appearances by Peter Case, Shawn Colvin, Barry Crimmins, Mark Erelli, John Gorka, David Johansen, Peter Keane, Fred Koller, Patty Larkin, Cormac McCarthy, Pete Nelson and more.

MusiCares is a not-for profit division of the National Academy Of the Recording Arts and Sciences that provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares' services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies.

(The concert recorded and mixed by Jeff Oehler. Photos by Susan Bibeau.)

Streaming Clips:


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Bill Morrissey Tribute Concert, Part 1

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Bill Morrissey Tribute Concert, Part 2

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Somerville Theater

Cliff Eberhardt

Anais Mitchell

John Gorka

David Johansen

Mrs. Morrissey

Patty Larkin

Mark Erelli

Shawn Colvin

Peter Case



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Bill Morrissey
  (1984, Philo)

  (1986, Philo)

Standing Eight
  (1989, Philo)

  (1992, Philo)

Friend of Mine (with Greg Brown)
  (1993, Philo)

Night Train
  (1994, Philo)

You'll Never Get to Heaven
  (1996, Philo)

Songs of Mississippi John Hurt
  (1999, Philo)

Something I Saw or Thought I Saw
  (2001, Philo)

Essential Collection
  (2004, Rounder)

Come Running
  (2007, Turn and Spin)

This is the best tribute concert I have heard since the Tribute to Steve Goodman. I never met Bill but I saw him numerous times. My sense is that the only thing missing from this concert is that Bill would have wanted the audience to know that he wrote all of Gorka's songs. And most of Eberhardt's. But then again he had already said that I think. Luckily we have Bill's songs too. And the classic Standing Eight. R.I.P.

Posted by Tom McConnell on April 22, 2012.
Oh to be remembered by friends like this. A sign of a life spent well.

Posted by James Dowdell on April 19, 2012.
Would be great to have another tribute. Can't get enough of Bill and his stories. Thanks to all for their help in producing the concert. Bill has caught the "westbound", and we will be bringing up the markers for him. God Speed

Posted by Keith Bednar on February 06, 2012.
I believe I first heard of Bill Morrissey at the Kerrville Folk Festival in the mid 80's bought his album and have been a fan as soon as I heard it

Posted by David Story on January 21, 2012.
Wish my somerville-based daughter told my about this show. What a tribute. Thank you all, thank you, Bill.

Posted by Michael Magistrali on January 15, 2012.
It was my great honor to meet an open for Bill in Pontiac, MI back in April of 2010. He was an amazing performer and very kind to this old guitar scratcher.

Posted by Tom Mansell on January 12, 2012.
What a great tribute to a great writer and guy. It was appropriate that "Handsome Molly," the first song of his I heard, started the show. Thank you.

Posted by Mike Smith on January 11, 2012.

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