You may know him, you may not, or you just might have just heard of him. I, on the other hand, knew him as a wonderful musician and he always made me feel like a friend. It hit me with some disbelief to hear that Joe Bethancourt passed on at the age of 68 last Thursday. A regular guest on the old childrens show Wallace and Ladmo, Joe was very kind and had an incredible sense of humor. He was and continues to be a staple of filk in my local fannish community.
My parents were the ones who introduced me to Joe. His mastery over stringed instruments was captivating and I still remember attending a concert of his when I was 5 or 6. Joe was playing at my local library and I still struggle to recall some of the song lyrics. Jurassic Park was still a relatively new film and he had a couple pieces pulling from the movie such as Let’s Take Barney to Jurassic Park and Jurassic Picnic. Both songs still manage to be an earworm to this day.
After the concert, I wanted his autograph simply because I though that’s just what you did when meeting artists and other people of import. Though I didn’t fully think it through as I also thought you didn’t have to bring a pen and something to sign if you wanted an autograph. Needless to say, I left without one but that didn’t change how excited I was to speak with him. Just talking to someone with such amazing ability and one who had made me laugh so hard.
We had crossed paths a few more times at conventions and fannish events, though it was nothing like that concert. I was still enthralled by his music and because of him, I was directed to the album Serious Steel which has one of the most important songs for me as a teen. The Cripple’s Shield Wall by Leslie Fish gave me hope in doing something great despite having a disability. So, while Joe had an indirect affect on me in some ways, I still bear a lot of respect and admiration for him. I will miss him though I will always have his music to listen to along with a handful of happy memories.