Friday, June 10, 2016

Good Grief!

Today has been great. This afternoon we ate lunch with our great volunteers, at the China Town Restaurant, in Kerrville and of course, it was a lot of fun.

Tony and I did not order the same thing on their menu like we usually always do, but we both ordered the Hot & Sour Soup.

When it was near the end of our lunch, June was talking to us about something she planned on doing, as I stood up, and said, "Excuse me, but I need to go to the bathroom."

Then June continued, and said, "So we'll see you in three months.."

I turned around and interrupted June, and joked, "Good grief! It's not going to take me that long." Everyone, at our table, burst out laughing, as I turned around and swiftly skipped away. And truth be known, I was sitting back at our table, in under three minutes.

When Tony and I got back home I checked my e-mail. Our good friend Donna Gable Hatch had sent me the story that she wrote about Chet & Willie's van burning. I know that I promised to post it, so here it is:

"Local musician loses everything in blaze

 By Donna Gable Hatch
 Special to The Times

A GoFundMe campaign is underway to help local singer-songwriter Chet OKeefe to recoup and regroup after a raging inferno gutted his van on June 1 and destroyed everything he owns.

OKeefe and his 6-year-old border collie-mix, Willie, were traveling in the van as part of a six-month concert tour of Canada and Washington State, when he noticed the vehicle losing power as it climbed a steep incline.

“It always smoked a bit, but this was different, something electrical. Acrid smoke began filling the van,” OKeefe said by phone from Washington.

He pulled over, got Willie out of the van and began pulling his belongings from the van.

“I tossed them about 15 feet from the van, but Id packed everything I own, so there was a lot of stuff. The smoke was getting really thick, and it was so hot, so I grabbed Willie and we got away from the van. I kept waiting for the gas tank to explode like in the movies.”

A fire sparked, and much to OKeefes horror, the fire spread “downhill like a lava flow and burned up the belongings I had set outside the van. I thought, ‘Theres no stopping it now. I just watched it burn.”

Lost in the blaze was OKeefes Martin acoustic guitar, which hed won in a songwriting competition; a mandolin; a handmade Telecaster; a Fishman Solo PA; a Bose stereo; recording gear; a MacBook; an iPad; a solar setup — panels, AGM solar batteries, charge controller and inverter — and effects pedals; as well as his clothes, wallet and passport.

“When I think about the things lost, I think about the things people had given me the most, the handmade stuff, the stuff given with meaning and loving intent: the shirt given by my good friend, Shannon, that her deceased husband, Mark Kneeskern, had made; the white oak walking stick with burned-in lotus flower designs and faces that my stepfather had made; the beaded eagle necklace given to me by my friend Mick at a crucial time in my life; the handmade leather vest made by Mark Ingram, who died a few years back; and the handmade blue Telecaster that Ive been playing for 25 years, made by my buddy, Frank Padellaro.”

A friend on Sunday started a GoFundMe campaign on behalf of OKeefe. To date, the site — — has raised more than $3,500.

Paying it forward
OKeefe is known for his giving nature and has participated in numerous fundraisers for local nonprofits, including Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch, a no-kill animal sanctuary in Medina, co-founded by Kinky Friedman and Nancy Parker-Simons.

“Chet called me to tell me the horrible news about his van burning up. It broke my heart, and I was fighting back tears. He lost nearly everything that he owned,” Parker-Simons said. “We hope that everyone will reach into their pockets and pay it forward by making a donation to help Chet get back on his feet — and it certainly wouldnt hurt for you to say a little prayer for him and Willie while youre at it.”

OKeefe got his start at the Kerrville Folk Festival, where he was twice a finalist in the festivals Grassy Hill Kerrville New Folk competition, 2010 and 2011.

Festival producer Dalis Allen said she would let performers and festival attendees know about the fundraising campaign for OKeefe. The festival continues through Sunday at Quiet Valley Ranch, 9 miles south of Kerrville on Texas 16.

“Chet is a great songwriter,” Allen said. “The safety of Chet and his dog is certainly the good news, but these kinds of losses are devastating to a touring artist that makes his living from the instruments that were lost. We hope he is able to get the van and instruments replaced soon and is back playing his songs for appreciative audiences around the country.”

OKeefe, who was awarded the International Bluegrass Music Associations Song of the Year Award in 2010, spent nine years in Nashville, followed by a short stint in Dallas and Northern Washington State before making his way to the Hill Country.

He performed with blues master and rock ‘nroll pioneer Bo Diddley, and is known for his unique storytelling sound, which combines a mix acoustic folk, western and jazzy-bluesy tunes. He recently released his long-awaited 10-track album, “Because of You,” which is available on iTunes, and OKeefes website, among other sites.

OKeefe is scheduled to leave Sunday for a two-week concert tour in Great Britain, and on Monday, he applied for — and was granted — an emergency passport. He said he plans to borrow a guitar and necessary equipment to play his upcoming gigs.

“Losing these things is pale in contrast to imagining loss of life: There is a great feeling of thankfulness and appreciation that has emerged from this that I carry with me everywhere I go, and people seem to recognize and tune in to it,” OKeefe said.

“However, that spirit of helping someone out in times of need is a human quality that transcends place and social status. The amount of love that has come my way in the last few days has been warmly encouraging, has given me hope.”

In true singer-songwriter fashion, OKeefe said theres a bright side to this sad saga: a new song. The working title is “Cleansing By Fire.”

“The things people gave me were the most important because each one carried an imprint of the intention and energy involved between each person and me,” OKeefe said. “They had deeper meanings attached — hope, love, trust, family — but none of those attached gifts can be taken away by fire.”

How to help

What: A GoFundMe campaign to aid local signer-songwriter Chet OKeefe

Details: OKeefe his musical instruments and equipment, as well as a solar setup, clothing, wallet and passport, in a June 1 fire that engulfed his van

How: To make a donation, visit

Info: For more information about Chet OKeefe, visit"

So once again, I want to thank the Kerrville Daily Times and Donna Gable Hatch and everyone for helping get the word out about our good friend, Chet O'Keefe and for making donations. Let's keep paying it forward and please share this in your social media! And that's about it for tonight.

Y'all have a great evening and keep on laughing!


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

That was a really good article- I am and have shared it Thank you for posting it too- Chet is great! I can't wait to hear him again....

cousin nancy said...

Hi Anon and Anon! I agree with both of y'all that Donna Gable Hatch's article about Chet losing everything, in the Kerrville Daily Times, is totally awesome. It was so kind of her and the Kerrville Daily Times to want to spread the news to help Chet O'Keefe get back on his feet. And thank y'all for the comments and for sharing it to help, too.