I have to admit … it’s been quite a week. And I’m writing this on Wednesday!

I was very saddened to learn of the passing of my friend, Rock Stone. He was such a sweet guy and I know a lot of locals are hurting from this tremendous loss.

We were casual friends but every single interaction I had with him was a very pleasant experience. He was jolly. And musical. We spent many a Wednesday night jamming music together with a group of local misfits. He always found his groove and brought a lot of slinky, funky guitar riffs to the proceedings.

He was a music enthusiast. He helped build Eagle Wind Sound in Winter Park and was often there listening, relaxing and hanging out. When you played him a song he listened closely and immersed himself in the experience. He went out to shows and would post pictures and videos of locals having fun with music.

Even my dog Chooch found Rock to be special. When Chooch saw Rock coming he would bark like a knucklehead, his entire back half wagging so hard that it practically slid him back and forth on the floor. Chooch knows how to pick them.

Rock drove for Home James. He touched many lives and I for one will miss him dearly.I know he had a lot of revered friends here that knew him better than I and I feel for you all.

It’s been a while since Fraser local Alaska Bob passed away suddenly. He was another one that was consistently kind every time. (Chooch liked him, too). He hung out at Rocky Mountain Roastery in Fraser so I’d pretty much see him every day. Always had a smile and some positive words. A lot of people loved that guy. I can only hope to be that neat. If I live that long.

The longer you live, the more you lose. Sometimes it seems like an avalanche. I’ve come to admire those who face adversity and hardship and still are positive, even fun. What a skill. How do you do that?

I’ve often asked my friend music to save me. And so many times she has. Whether it’s sharing music on the radio, performing live, writing and recording or just listening, she’s transformative.

I hired a bagpipe player to play at my mother’s memorial. My family gathered around the urn as the piper delivered Amazing Grace in full Scottish costumery. The ocean waves of Half Moon Bay in California drummed in the background and hid the sound of my tears hitting the beach. I do not recommend you do this unless you are strong.

On Saturday, February 15 from noon until 7:00 p.m. There’s a very special event happening at the Fraser Historic Church. It’s being billed as the “Fraser Flute Fest.” Yes there will be flutes, many flutes but it is also a celebration of life and love for local Ernie Roybal. Ernie has been diagnosed with cancer and his friends and family are coming together.

Ernie is another one of those ultra-positive locals. His murals are all over the place and he was instrumental in creating the funky Fraser art scene and the recent Fraser Mountain Mural Festival in Fraser. Even though he is a formidable muralist he cheered everyone else and worked on promoting the event, not starring in it. He is a gift to the local arts community!

Last year I was house sitting for some friends in Tabernash. They had a serious driveway and I did my best to keep up with the mounting snow. One day, unannounced, Ernie swung in with a large earth mover and reset the driveway. I am still grateful and in awe of his generosity and equanimity.

I can’t wait to see Ernie on Saturday and I really hope he gets a boost from all his friends rallying around him in this difficult time. I know he will because that’s the kind of person he is. He’s got spirit and the event will reflect his reverence for Native American culture with the sounds of flutes, dances, music and poetry. I am humbled that he asked me to play music for this and find that I’m a little nervous. I want to get it right and add to the joy. Maybe I should learn to play bagpipes.

Steve Skinner is glad you are here. Reach him at nigel@sopris.net.