Musicians from around Vermont and even Canada flocked to Vermont folk musician and mentored Pete Sutherland’s bedside before his death on Wednesday.
Others videotaped themselves performing Sutherland’s songs and posted the recordings online as memorials.
Sutherland was recognised across Vermont and beyond as a multi-talented singer, composer, and musician who could play not only the fiddle but also the piano, banjo, melodeon, and guitar.
Pete Sutherland Cause of his death
He died of prostate cancer after using the state’s medical help in passing a statute which permits terminally ill individuals to utilise a prescription drug to accelerate their death.
Sutherland played in many bands, including Pete’s Posse, The Clawfoot Strutters, Arm and Hammer String Band, and Metamora. He performed at local locations such as Montpelier’s contra dance night, hosted at the Capital City Grange twice a month also taught and performed at Young Tradition Vermont. This Vermont Folklife Center-affiliated programme teaches children song and dance.
According to Patti Casey, a friend of Sutherland’s since the 1980s and fellow musician who played and arranged music with him, musicians throughout the nation were in “awe” of Sutherland’s musical ability, particularly on the fiddle.
All about his personality
Sutherland was characterised by Casey as having a “very, very smart intellect” who was constantly eager to learn and explore different forms of music.
Casey paid Sutherland many visits when he was sent to a hospice care facility in Montpelier approximately a month before his death. She was astonished that Sutherland had started listening to Indian raga music during one of her recent trips.
Sutherland’s son, Calum Sutherland, 32, recalls that throughout his upbringing, folks he didn’t know would approach him and praise his father’s music.
Sutherland’s “reach reached so many areas, and he was a fiddler who could perform in so many genres,” according to Joe Newberry, a musician living in North Carolina who met him in the 1990s.
Sutherland has served as a mentor to many budding musicians.
“Our conversations centred greatly on how he loved mentoring young musicians,” Newberry said. “He taught them (his students) something about how to approach a tune, about how to be good to people.”
Sutherland mentored young musicians such as 27-year-old Oliver Scanlon. His mother forced him to join an after-school fiddle group led by Sutherland when he was in fourth grade.
Sutherland rapidly became a mentor to Scanlon, who founded Pete’s Posse while still in high school alongside Sutherland and Tristan Henderson. Scanlon took a gap year after graduation and joined the band on a 12,000-mile tour throughout the United States. Scanlon never went to college and instead stayed with the band.
Sutherland’s interests were not limited to music. Calum said that, although he seldom performed music with his father, the two loved poetry and would discuss their writings with one another.
Sutherland had been fighting prostate cancer for almost a decade but had recently become weaker and in more significant pain, according to acquaintances.