Carl Chatski passes

Carl ChatskiThe Seattle bluegrass music community has lost a long-time member in the person of Carl Chatski, who passed away unexpectedly July 24 at the age of 75.

Originally from Baltimore, MD, Carl had lived in the Seattle, WA area for some time. As a younger man, he performed sporadically with The Stanley Brothers on mandolin, and became a fixture in bluegrass education in Washington state. He had been friendly with other Baltimore/Washington, DC artists like Mike Seeger, Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard, and also shared their passion for progressive politics and social justice issues, something he continued to champion throughout his life.

Carl was a quasi-legendary figure for having purchased Ralph Stanley’s Style 4 Gibson Mastertone (Hearts & Flowers), and for bringing it out from time to time in the Seattle area. He had also performed with Red Emma’s Dance Band.

We understand that Carl had recently been living in Florida, but had returned to Seattle last week to see his doctor. He was found sitting alone in a rental car at a friend’s house where he was staying, and is thought to have died around noon on the 24th.

Unfortunately, we have been unable to find many more details about his life and death. A friend, Eddie Becker, posted this video in his memory.


Anyone who knew Carl is invited to flesh out this information in the comments.

R.I.P. Carl Chatski.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.