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"Brown, Steve" wrote:
Since we've downsized the Weekly, I'm not sure if we'll have room in the arts section of this issue or not (and unfortunately, I am not the Lord Admiral of the A&E Section either). If you can put together something along the lines of 500 words though, I will do everything I can to sneak it into the news section. Kyoti was truly a great American musical treasure and I am grateful I caught his performance at the JT Music Festival. I'm wearing the crystal necklace he gave me at Tommy Paul's benefit, and still can't believe he's gone. I've got a photo from the JTMF I'm thinking of using along with whatever you send.
"Come on out Little Doggies, and we'll sing by the light of the moon..."
a Celebration of the Life and Music of Kyoti King.
Friday, May 2, 2003
9pm to midnite
Friends and Musicians gather to pay tribute to the legendary folk musician/activist Kyoti King. Performers will include Alice and Albert, Elia Arce, Rojer Arnold, Gram Rabbit, Steve Lester, members of Kyoti's Wild Ass Ranchers and special guests returning from a lengthy world tour. The event will be hosted by Ted Quinn, with Joanne Carlysle's observations of Kyoti, as seen through Lakota eyes .
In honor of Kyoti's work on behalf of the homeless, please bring a can of food for the local food bank.
500 words or so...
Kyoti King was a national cultural icon, an unknown legend of Chocktaw Cherokee/Irish descent. Born in Broken Bow, Oklahoma on June 8, 1948, raised an itinerant cotton picker, Kyoti got his birth certificate at the age of 13, upon entering a boys ranch - for threatening the life of a step dad who was beating his mother - from which he escaped to begin his life of adventure and song.
When Kyoti died of congestive heart failure at 11:11pm on the night of April 22, 2003, he left behind an American history in which he hitch-hiked across the country, once spending time on the road with a woman calling herself Pearl, who he realized years later was Janis Joplin, hopped freight trains, fought for the homeless, and for the right to partake in his medicine - the San Diego police lost the case he brought and were forced to give him back his bag of weed. Once, to irk the mayor of Portland, Kyoti ran for his job. Legend has it that once when a police officer shot and killed Kyoti's dog, Kyoti blew up eight police cars in their storage garage, watching the whole scene from afar and later on the TV news. They say he once inadvertently brought down a police chopper with the string of a kite.
Kyoti helped establish the Hassle-Free Clinic in Berkeley and founded Home Aid, Inc. in Portland. In his trademark overalls and unruly hair, Kyoti went to Washington DC., sat down with senators and congressmen on Capitol Hill and fasted for 21 days until changes were made in affordable housing laws. His conviction and honesty impressed even the most jaded politicians.
Once, when Kyoti came across a house on fire, he grabbed a wet blanket and fought his way past the firefighters into the flames. He rescued a mother and her baby. He was burned so badly, doctors wanted to amputate his arm. His upside down/backwards style of guitar playing was due to his mangled left hand. His humility never allowed him to brag about his bravery, " It was as simple as God picking the right person for the job."
Called Kyoti for his love of singing and playing, he spelled his name phonetically because he believed kids could learn to read and write more easily without any extraneous letters. For 20 years, Kyoti sang on the streets from Seattle to San Diego, and from Missouri to Hawaii. His song 'Whippoorwill' is sung in medicine circles in Arizona and his distinctive wrapped stone jewelry is worn everywhere west of the Rockies. His sharp, truthful tongue took no prisoners and he always looked you straight in the eye. His warmth and his smile welcomed all, like a swing on an old front porch. His gift was the simple pleasure of hearing a true American voice, singing from a genuine heart.
Kyoti leaves a legacy of integrity and true grit, his beloved Carol Ann, and a musical community which will always be held to a higher standard for having had him in its presence.
Joshua Tree, CA