LEFT: Gary Flanagan and Sarah Benck. Photo by Brian Nelson from Gary's Facebook page.
TOP RIGHT: Hadden Sayers, photographed by Gary Flanagan.
I haven't had time to sort out my thoughts further but wanted to post something here on the blog about the passing of my friend Gary Flanagan.
I remember first seeing him at Sarah Benck shows, and asking Sarah if he was a relative, as he was always there, always knew all the words, always got up close to the stage. At the reception and musical celebration of his life, easily attended by 25 to 30 of Omaha's finest singer-songwriters, everyone said the same thing. "Gary came to all my shows, knew all the words, sat in the front...Gary came to more shows than my parents did...Gary encouraged me to learn something new, to push myself..."
I used to joke that Gary saw more shows than I did, as he was always out, hitting several shows a week and a huge friend to and supporter of our fine local musicians. I used to often sit with him and Mark Sebring at shows, I regret I will never get to share a show with Gary again. The last time I saw him was at the Hadden Sayers show at The 21st Saloon, where he was taking pics with the camera he had inherited from his sister. He had a hard time with the passing of both his sister and his dad in recent years, but he loved taking his sister's camera to shows and on trips. We talked that night about all the hundreds of pictures he still had to pull off the camera, recent family trips, more music pictures.
Two weeks later he was gone. I'm still stunned. The Omaha music scene and Omaha's musicians have lost a dedicated, discerning & kind music enthusiast & friend.....and I know I have lost a good friend too.
Please keep Gary's wife and family in your prayers. As much as all his music family miss him, I know they are hurting so much more.
Cass Brostad was one local artist Gary loved who summed his impact up really well "Gary Flanagan. You've seen every one of my bands play. You sat in the front row of shows. You came to shows when no one else would. You remembered the names of songs. And requested them. You let me call you Flash Flanagan. For years You were always smiling. You were always the nicest guy in a room full of hooligans. And we all love you. You are absolutely irreplaceable in every way. And I'm going to miss your face. Very very much. - Fidel Casstro. (Cass Brostad)."
Hear Nebraska has also posted a few remembrances of Gary, including my Facebook post and a note from our mutual friend Mark Sebring, the three of us often sat together at shows by our favorite artists. I know we both will miss him, his company, his enthusiasm for music and his friendship.