Monday, January 2, 2012

In Lieu of 1000 Words: A Metheny Celebration

This waited two months because Pat was on tour, and his mother insisted it not interrupt work. That’s how she was, he explained.

Lois Metheny was mother to two of Kansas City’s – okay, Lee’s Summit’s – most celebrated musicians, Mike and Pat Metheny. Mike lives in the area (and, as I’ve repeatedly told him, needs to perform more often). Pat you may know from his 18 Grammy awards. Or, you may know Pat from his years growing up here.

Lois encouraged both in their music careers. She passed in October. But one of her last requests was a Celebration of Life jam session and party. As Mike put it, “It was her wish to go out on an upbeat note rather than with a sad funeral, so we are going to make sure it happens that way.”

Two days after Pat finished an 80 city tour, it did.

On December 11th, at the Arrowhead Yacht Club at Lake Winnebago, musicians, family and friends gathered. Mike and Pat led the jam session. Among the other musicians participating were Paul Smith, Bob Bowman, Tommy Ruskin, Gerald Spaits and Marilyn Maye.

Sometimes with jazz, you’re fortunate to be at the right place, right time, and hear something special. When Marilyn Maye and Pat Metheny – who may have won Grammys for more exotic music, but who grew up in Kansas City’s jazz community – performed a vocal and guitar duet, we heard magic.

As afternoon turned to dusk, we stepped outside. Lake Winnebago was a location where Lois asked her ashes be spread. Mike, Pat and Pat’s wife and children walked towards the end of the dock. Red tinged the clouds. The setting sun glazed the lake, beautifully.

Then Pat called out, “We’ve never done this before! We don’t know what we’re doing!”

They figured it out.

Mike suggested I bring my camera. The photos below are from the celebration’s jam session. As always, clicking on a photo should open a larger version of it.

Pat and Mike Metheny. Mike is playing the E.V.I., or Electronic Valve Instrumement.

The jam session. Left to right: Pat Metheny, Tommy Ruskin, Mike Metheny, Bob Bowman, Paul Smith.

Mike Metheny plays. Behind him is Tommy Ruskin.

Pat Metheny on guitar

Paul Smith on piano

Marilyn Maye and Mike Metheny

Pat and Mike Metheny

Gary Sivils tells the story of teenage Pat’s first professional gig, with Gary’s group at a local lounge. At the right, Pat reacts. I couldn’t possibly retell the story here as well as Gary told it. If you run into Gary, ask him about it.

Bob Bowman on bass as Paul Smith watches

Pat Metheny on guitar and Tommy Ruskin on drums

Pat Metheny and Marilyn Maye duet

Mike Metheny

Pat solos while Mike watches

Lois Metheny’s boys


  1. Lois' smiles shine in these pictures

  2. That must have been a jam session! Great pictures, KC Jazz Lark!

  3. Did anybody record these sessions???

  4. What a wonderful memorial for a proud Mom. I can almost see her smiling. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing, from Italy

  6. She was a unique, positive, charming lady!

  7. My name is Gê Tock.
    Thank you for share this beautiful history!
    Hugs from Tietê/SP, Brasil.

  8. fan de Pat et Mike depuis de longues années, je découvre cet album de famille très touchant et cette soirée rendue en hommage à leur mère disparue. Merci à toute la famille et aux amis de partager cette intimité avec le reste du monde.

    Absolute fan of Pat and Mike for more than 20 years, I'm discovering the Metheny family through this kind and touching album and this hommage eve in memory of their mother. Thank you so much to share this intimate party with the rest of the world.

    Stéphane (from France).


Comments are welcome. If you prefer, you can reach me directly at kcjazzlark(at)gmail(dot)com.