A Little less Sugar…

Grateful Blog: Day 86: Bert Sugar died yesterday. Bert Randolph Sugar was known as “The Greatest Boxing Writer of the 20th Century”, as well as “one of the foremost historians alive,” and was elected to the International Boxing Hall in January 2005. Bert was one of those larger than life characters. He wore a fedora, smoked a cigar, rolled with the high rollers in some of the biggest sporting events in the last century and witnessed a ton of them in person. I’m not really a boxing fan but Bert was a regular guest on one of my favorite sports radio programs: ‘Prime Time with Issac and Suke on 1080 AM.’ Issac and Suke called Bert once for an appearance on the show and 2 weeks later Bert just started calling the show and giving tips on which college football teams would win that weekend.

It became a regular feature and I totally looked forward to it even though I couldn’t have cared less who won or lost. Bert would call in Thursdays at 4:30pm and tell stories about how he’d hung out with Mohammed Ali or drank with Joe DiMaggio and you felt like you were listening to the radio in 1956 or 1966 all over again. He was a complete throwback from another era, a living legend and a real-live link to the past that most folks just read about in books. He also had that wise-acre sense of humor and gravelly voiced demeanor that’s part weird uncle and part genius. The fact of the matter was that Bert Randolph Sugar was one of a kind, a world class storyteller, and the sort of guy we never see anymore, and that I think we could use more of.

There was one night I was listening and Bert was laughing loudly, his whiskey and cigar tinged laugh and said ‘Hey fellas, once upon a time don’t work no more’. I wrote it down and went home and wrote a song by that name that night. I’m Grateful he called in every week and told his stories. I think he just wanted someone to talk to who knew what a treasure he was. I miss Bert already…

About Dan Weber

Award Winning songwriter Dan Weber has been described as “The Classic Mid-Life Overnight Sensation” after bursting onto the festival scene in 2010 to a standing ovation at the Sisters Folk Festival for his engaging set in the Dave Carter songwriting contest. Since then he’s toured extensively across the country becoming a rare 3 time finalist in the legendary Kerrville ‘New Folk’ competition, had 2 top finishes in the Woody Guthrie songwriting contest and in 2015 won the prestigious Winfield, Kansas ‘NewSong’ contest for Oh Woody, his anthemic tribute to Woody Guthrie, that rose to #2 on the Folk charts in 2015. An ex-Park Ranger, Eagle Scout, Altar boy and lifelong ‘Deadhead’, he left his hometown of Rochester, NY in 1989 in a beat-up primer grey ‘78 Pontiac Trans-Am with ‘a guy named Joe’ he’d met in a bar the night before, and never looked back. Living first in Seattle during the ‘grunge era’, then off the grid in a sheepherder’s trailer in Utah’s remote Canyonlands National Park, Weber eventually moved back north to Portland, OR, and settled in a 1948 Kaiser shipyard worker’s house in Vancouver, VA. Along the way he picked up stories and hitchhikers and eventually, picked up a guitar and began writing songs. Weber began performing later in life at age 40 but being a gifted storyteller, he quickly won over audiences with his natural charisma, upbeat performances, authentic songwriting, and off-the-cuff hilarious stories from the many roads he’s traveled. None other than legendary Folk troubadour Ramblin’ Jack Elliott said “I love Dan’s songs and he tells really good stories.” His songs have been described as “Guthrie-esque and reminiscent of early John Prine” and “A rare combination of wit, emotion and Harry Chapin-esque imagery” and the UK’s Maverick Magazine said: “4 Stars: The touch of a true Master Craftsman songwriter.” There’s also been recognition from DJ’s: “Hank and Jesus is easily the best folk song I heard last year” and The Victory Review wrote “Weber's writing is as strong as any in the Contemporary Folk community. Goodbye to Dad is one of the best original tunes that I have heard in a long time.” After the success of 2015’s release of What I’m Lookin’ For, a 14 song CD of classic Folk and Americana that climbed to #6 on the charts and included Oh Woody as well as the breakout hit (I Deal with) Crazy ALL Day, an everyman’s anthem and crowd sing-a-long favorite, Weber is currently working on his first live recording and new material for an upcoming CD. If his phenomenal growth in such a short period of time is any indication, it promises to be his best work yet.
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