We posted last week on the passing of Gene Daniell, a highly-regarded audio engineer, and a man beloved not only by his family and friends, but by all he touched in the wider bluegrass community as well.
Noted radio personality Sherry Boyd has graciously agreed to allow us to published the eulogy she delivered at Gene’s memorial service on October 23 at the Carmichael Funeral Home in Marietta, GA. Sherry is also in-demand as an MC at festivals at shows, and had known Gene for years.
Suddenly, we are reminded of – how fragile we are. Suddenly, and, maybe even more profoundly we are reminded of – how connected we are.
We are a community of family, friends and co-workers whose lives are different because Gene Daniell has been a part of us – in many ways. His spirit lives is us – even now – as we honor and remember him – and speak of him.
Our misunderstandings today – will fade into memories in the coming days, as we are reminded of the gift we have had in our time with Gene. The memories will become even sweeter as we share those times and stories with one another.
My first memory of Gene was from a chair in the audience at the Jekyll Island Georgia Bluegrass Festival. He was performing with Doodles and Golden River Grass. This was in the 80’s, though Gene played on that stage further back in the 70’s.,
Gene’s relationship with the bluegrass stage has been a devoted one – that’s lasted many years. His command of the stage included everything from his exceptional bass playing on the stage, under the lights – to his sound engineering work in the front of the house at the sound board with his sound partner/life partner, Johnnie, by his side….to his sound work backstage, where my visits and work with Gene most often took place.
Gene’s work as a sound engineer began at the long running, popular Hamby Mountain Bluegrass Festival in Hamby Mountain Georgia, produced by Charles and Betty Hamby. He has been a part of the Norman Adams and Tony Anderson Bluegrass Festivals for over 30 years, when you add the times he played as a performer and worked as a sound man.
Gene has spent hours – days, recording, mixing and perfecting projects for many bands for our enjoyment. He has been called on to do many of these things by the industry that holds great respect for his talents and abilities. Gene has always had such a willingness to help at every opportunity.
I often wondered if Gene could see the words traveling right over my head as he told me about his – new gadget – or explained a new procedure or process he was implementing! I would listen – finding pleasure in his thinking that I might be smart enough to understand what he was talking about. The look on his face was priceless. Gene was serious about working, re-working, and tweaking things – taking care to make the music and people he loved sound even better.
He never lost that glow or desire to try something new – making it more special if he could. He was a craftsman and – all of us – are better for having spent time around Gene – who loved what he did – and gave it all he had – every time.
Working with Gene Daniell was always pleasant. I watched as he treated me and band members from all over the world with kindness and respect. He was quick to smile, pass along a compliment or make a funny statement. His job as a sound man was to amplify us all – while he remained supportive.
Gene Daniell was a friend to all performers and one of the most respected men in the business, but then – he extended friendship and was respectful of others, and was a true fan of the music.
Many times I had conversations with Gene about shows he and Johnnie had worked, and he would speak of the performances with excitement and energy, with a sparkle in his eye, as if was the first time he’d heard the music.
He was always eager to pack up and go to the next show and hear the music, and work the music. Gene’s unwavering dedication to the music industry always had that perfect blend of professionalism, patience and passion.
It will be difficult to work without seeing Gene’s smiling face – or getting that reassuring pat on the back. It will be difficult not having the comfort of seeing him on stage – or at the sound board, with Johnnie, out in the front of the house – or having the support of him backstage. I will find comfort, though – and hope you will too – with the memories.
As the curtain comes down on another show and the house lights go dim – sometimes – before we’re ready for the show to be over – we’re left to re-play the pleasantries over and over in our minds and – our hearts are filled. And so it is – with this curtain call – much sooner than we wanted – we now take the pleasantries and play them over and over. Our heart, though heavy, are filled….
We know Gene is packed and ready – on his way to the biggest stage of all – the heavenly stage.
From this big family – to Johnnie and all the family – Sweet Peace and Precious Memories to each one of you.
And to you….
“Cheer up my brothers – Cheer up my sisters….We’ll understand it all by and by”