[This was sent to me a month and a day before Raccoon died -jp]

 

From: Jim S.

Received: August 22, 2005

Subject: Raccoon

 

Hi John,

 

I ran into this guy in Washington DC last week in DuPont Circle. Played Rainbow Stew for us and gave us a CD (and tape). I never asked his name, but I assume he’s Raccoon (name of the artist on the CD he gave me). A description of him would be; about the friendliest guy you ever met, broad smiling face, dark curly hair (I think. It was hidden under a frayed beachcomber straw hat).

 

Anyway, found your email from doing a whois on raccoonsongs.com and noticed your the same guy listed as performing on one of the tracks, and just wanted to tell him (through you, whenever you see him next) thanks for the music and good feelings.

 

Jim

 

 

From: Joan Gibbs and family Terry Reardon, Ben Reardon and Rochelle Gibbs

Received: September 27, 2006

 

Letter to Hunter/ Raccoon,

 

My dear, sweet little Hunter, how I wish we could sit and talk, like we always said we would… maybe one day. Now it is too late and I wish I had said many things. Please take with you my good wishes and travel well on your journey to the Milky Way, to be the star in the sky that will always be there to greet us.

 

As the youngest of we ten little Indians, you brought us joy and wisdom, the bright star of our family. We will miss your creativity, your songs and your presence with us in gatherings. We will always have you in our hearts when we gather. The world was a better place for the gifts you left us, and your mark will stay with us forever, for you are still a part of us.

 

The world did not give you enough back, for your love. You lived in loneliness and used it as a forge for your creativity. You were not and are not alone, but you are a part of the bigger family and came from the Big Mother Earth. She is accepting you back now, and you will become part of the rich tapestry of those who have gone before. You were loved and belonged to the family of humanity, and many followers adored you. Your life was blessed, but I am sorry if you suffered.

 

In 1999 you and I went to the Sundance, and we found help. I thought we knew a lot of the same things about Nature. Then a month ago, when we last spoke on the phone, you said you would come to Australia, never to return. When a bird flew into my house last Saturday, I thought you were paying me a visit. It was the message of your passing. The equinox is the time when the heavens are open, and people can pass into the spirit world.

 

I know you are at peace. We will wait to hear your songs on the wind. Thank you for your beautiful spirit, for the benefits we gained from sharing your life. We know what you would want, and in some way, perhaps you will continue on in another form. At the very least, you will live in our hearts. Love and safe travel.

 

 

From: Jacqui MacMillan

Received: October 2, 2006

 

Hello : ) Thank you for putting this together in Raccoon’s honor ... I was saddened to hear the news about his passing. I just saw him before I moved out of DC earlier this year. I hadn’t seen him in years ... and he just 'popped up' to say hello : ) - It’s as if he were making his rounds to say 'farewell' ....

 

I have a group photo of a bunch of folks in front of the old Crystal House in Washington DC ... I cropped Raccoon out of this picture. I think it’s a nice shot ... he’s holding a large crystal cluster. The picture is from around 1988 or 89 ...I took the picture, so, please feel free to use it on the website if you would like. Thanks again for keeping the music alive!

 

Peace and Blessings,

Jaqui MacMillan
www.drumforjoy.com

 

 

 

From: Peter Zoernig

Received: October 05, 2006

 

To Raccoon’s Family and Friends...

 

I am still in shock over this tragedy. Raccoon left behind some of the most beautiful and inspiring songs ever written by anybody, and as an individual he was truly one of a kind. His lack of success on a commercial level was only because all of that is about money and the experience of being alive was too rich for him to lower his thinking to that level long enough to play that game. The music itself is a pure expression of something that you can’t buy or sell at any price. The packaging costs money but the music is free. Thanks, Raccoon.

 

Bessie Gibbs is a remarkable woman who along with H. Ray raised an amazing family who are now feeling a loss that I can’t imagine. No-one loved Raccoon more than his mother and his family, and no-one knows the struggles and hardships and the impossible challenge of helping Hunter Benjamin Mark Gibbs along the lonely road that he himself chose to follow better than Bessie and her surviving children. But the rest of us friends and fans are also grieving deeply, and we all just wish we could hear him sing those songs one more time, and tell him how much we love him. Thank you, Raccoon’s family, for giving us and nurturing a rare genius of American folk music.

 

It’s now in the hands of us friends and fans to keep this music alive and honor the memory of our late friend Raccoon. We managed to get quite a bit of the music recorded. I myself have a multitude of fantastic Raccoon stories, some of which make the magic bus seem like an airport shuttle by comparison. You can’t make this stuff up...I have been writing out these stories to be shared and I encourage everybody who knew Raccoon to do the same.

 

Let’s do our best to preserve and share these anecdotes and archival recordings. People like Raccoon come along very rarely and the stories and the music should be heard far and wide!

 

Peter M Zoernig

(AKA General Junk)

 

 

From: Ian Gibbs (Raccoon’s Nephew)

Received: October 11, 2006

 

Hello to all. Sorry I can not be there in person to honor the life of Raccoon. My encounters with Raccoon were brief and varied. A slumber party on a trampoline. A couple of songs on Robin’s porch. A giant open field party where he was “security” and rode around on his bike with a staff.

 

He did take me to my first and only Rainbow gathering. Walked me around the camp. Showed me the Rainbow Stew. Taught me that the National Forest is ours and we can camp where we please. I went to bed early and later he said they ate mushrooms and danced around naked. Sorry I missed that.

 

And of course his songs. A tape played over and over until I could sing along with him. He was truly an artist - deep feeling, strikingly creative and a love to entertain. He was magnetic. Charismatic. Devious and mischievous. Spontaneous and dynamic. Stubborn and I think the definition of non-conformist. Free. Truly free and vast yet hindered by his own demons. A poet. A musician. A troubadour. A gypsy. A wit that only a true Gibbs can have. A warrior. At least, that is how I shall remember him. And yet through all his music I kept hearing a reoccurring theme. A road weary traveler trying to find his way home. A yearning to find a place where he could truly stop and rest his head. A home. I think he was looking for his own personal peace perhaps. A place in his heart where he could finally be at rest and calm. At home with himself.

 

I am truly sorry that he is gone. I hope you have found your way home, Warrior. I hope you have found your way home.

 

Ian

 

 

From: Shen

Received: October 14, 2006

 

hey bro,

 

was so sad this evening when I heard of raccoons passing on. been listening to him all night. hadn’t heard heads or tails of him since west virginia when he camped with us at the Green Circus for a while and played at our fire for us. such a mellow sweet hearted spirit. and whoever mentioned about him being able to make you crack a smile or an impromptu laugh even when joy was the last thing on your mind was so true.

 

the only musician i ever met who could play the melody with some fingers while playing the harmony with others; just wish i could chill with him again.

 

love and peace, in this life, his spirit will live with me forever,

 

shen

 

 

From: Cheryl S.

Received: Tuesday, October 24, 2006

 

Raccoon was a natural nurturer and had such wisdom. He listened, spoke, and acted from the heart. He inspired, encouraged and taught our musician friends. Pulling “it” right out of them for all the rest of us to enjoy.

 

Every song he sang with such heart. His voice such depth. Evokes tremendous feeling. There’s a theme of love, acceptance and humor.

 

My fondest memories are not of his music alone. He was great at making idle work fun. He came up with creative ways to pass the time too, such as stick and rock “baseball.” It was more fun than playing with a bat and a ball and we didn’t have to buy them. He made meals by combining ingredients you would never imagine putting together, but they were good. If you got hurt, he was the first one to give you a real hug, stroke you and stay, “Oh, baby.”

 

So, thank you, Raccoon, for the music, stories, laughs, fun, kindness, and love. Thank you for giving so much to everyone. We’re better people for having known you. Thanks to Raccoon and John P. I had some of the best years of my life, truly.

 

Keep his spirit alive by writing your own songs, sing even if you can’t carry a tune, and dance with your children. Go outside and have some fun. Play his music for your friends and family too. Remember your biological family isn’t your only family. We’re all linked. We’re all one.

 

The last few years we didn’t see Raccoon as often. It was always the best surprise to see him walk in or to walk in and see him there. His face always ALWAYS brought a smile to my face.

 

Mourning is for the living and since I am, I’m still crying.

 

Before long, we’ll all be together again…singing, laughing, and having fun.

 

 

From: Susan MacVittie
Received: October 27, 2006

Dear Family and Friends of Raccoon,

 

I was deeply saddened to hear of Raccoon’s passing from our mutual friend Peter (Gen Junk). My condolences and love go out to his family.

 

I know what it’s like to suddenly lose a family member, as my own beloved brother left this world in January. He was a real character too, rode his Harley, lived on a sailboat, flew the Jolly Roger and was a blues harp player. I’m thinking the two of them are probably having a great jam session together right now!!

 

I met Raccoon with Peter at the '86 Pennsylvania gathering, where we sat inside his teepee and he played his heartfelt, witty songs. Immediately, I wanted to sing along and have continued to do so with the yet-to-be worn-out tape of Rainbow Warrior that has traveled with me from Prince Edward Island to BC and back again. I’ve played his music for truck drivers and grandparents, sung them on New York City street corners and in my living room with my 7 year old daughter singing along, and whenever Peter and I get together we celebrate by singing a few Raccoon tunes. Many friends have heard his songs and although they’ve never met him, they too, were sorry to hear of his passing. The recognition of a loving, soulful being who wants to 'go home' is something many people can relate to.

 

He will not be forgotten and I wish that I could’ve had the chance to know him better, but I’m grateful for those who have sent pictures and stories to the website.

 

Thank you Raccoon, I will continue to keep your spirit alive by playing your songs and dancing!

 

Many blessings to the Gibbs family,

 

Susan MacVittie

Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

 

 

From: Christopher (Matt) Buchanan a.k.a. Solar Shield
Received: November 07, 2006

I met Raccoon in 1990 in Lorton VA. His music had a way of sticking with you, and even after hearing a song once it would just stay with you. It wasn’t until 1991 that I actually got to know Raccoon, as well as a host of others that came together from his Linden gatherings. It’s weird how many of these people that still know and connect with each other after all these years who met first at those awesome gatherings. His music is the most unique form of folk music I have ever heard. I had begun learning guitar myself in 1990, but after being exposed to his music I went and traded my electric rig at a pawn shop for an old Yamaha acoustic. I’ve never owned another electric guitar, only acoustics.

 

I was kind of a wild child when I first met Raccoon, and the many friends I made through Linden, but I can honestly say that his music helped to inspire in me, a better me. I became a huge folk music fan, and now I write my own folk songs, but it was Raccoon’s music that lit the flame. There is just so much damn soul in it! There was also a child-like playfulness in it that made you laugh. He even gave me a little nickname that folks call me to this day… “Solar Shield”.

 

 

 

From: Jim Browne

Received: November 11, 2006

 

I first met Raccoon at the July 4th Smoke-In the early 90s and he gave to my brother the cassette Road Kill. We later watched him perform and were diggin' it. After we got back to Baltimore we later wore out Road Kill but we both agreed some of the best things in life are free. Needless to say the very next year lo and behold we met Raccoon again and again another gift of his CD Rainbow Warrior proving again that some of the best things are free.

 

Guess how hard it hit me to see the events of 9-11 unfold...and what screamed out in my head…

 

“When the concrete mountains come tumbling down? Where you gonna run to, where you gonna hide, ahhh where you gonna hide?”

 

It hits a deep spot in my heart to hear of Raccoon’s passing, but i believe he is fine in his new home. I am grateful for knowing his face and sharing his music.

 

 

From: Brad Forrestel

Received: November 13, 2006

 

I have only met Raccoon once-- at his wedding. I was about 13 years old at the time. My mom, Eileen (Renzi) Forrestel was a cousin of Raccoon (Hunter). I heard of Raccoon’s passing from my mom who came home from the funeral with one of his CDs, Nature’s Cathedrals, and I love his songs. I have not had a whole lot of contact with the Gibbs side of the family -- maybe once every couple years, the last being 2 years ago in Linden, VA for the forth of July. Unfortunately, Raccoon was not there but I had the opportunity to play with some of his brothers/sisters/cousins. I would have liked to have had the opportunity to play with him and regret that the first time I had heard his songs was after he had passed. I am grateful however that he did leave us with his songs, and I’m glad that I got to “know” him in this way.

I want to say that I think it’s great that you started the MySpace account as well as manage raccoonsongs.com for Raccoon. It’s a great tribute to him and his music.

Thanks again,
Brad Forrestel

 

 

From: Diana
Received: November 14, 2006

 

Remembering U My Dear Hunter:
Looking back to when you were a shy 12 yr old u asked me to accompany you to the dance - I did and u stepped on my toes and we took a walk and sat and chatted for hours. We grew closer and closer as time passed and we were sitting looking at the radio tower and u wrote sparks. We later went to your house and you and your dad sung together. I could go on forever with our memories. Sitting at the campfires. Laughing with you and your mom at the condo. U singing at my house and later in years to my kids. I loved you so much – I still do. Our pictures always hung in my room and I still listen to all the cassettes. No one will ever touch my life the way u did and still do. Rest in peace my love and fly with the angels. I know u will visit in spirit with all.

 

 

From: Tenali

Received: November 21, 2006

 

Greetings,

Sorry for the late reply but I have been away from the net for some time but I came across this site and was caught off guard. I recorded some of Raccoon’s music at the Idaoh 2001 gathering, as well as, the MI 2002 gathering. 2 of his songs (Dumpster Diver & Dancin' 'till Daylight) are available for listen/download here... http://rainbowtribe.net/idaho2001.html.

 

Another song, Buffalo Road, is available here...http://rainbowtribe.net/michigan2002.html. Scroll down to find them. Dumpster Diver has always been a favorite song of those that have listened to the Idaho recordings. He almost lost himself in laughter while playing the song, a joyous moment and a fine evening listening to this great songwriter... Take care Raccoon. Your music shall live on...

 

 

From: Lee Davidson

Received: November 22, 2006

 

I am so very sorry that I missed this news. I learned of Raccoon’s passing just last night.  I have cried many times since and I don’t think I am ready to say goodbye.  I don’t know if I ever will.

 

I have known Raccoon for about 18 years now.  We spent a lot of time over the years talking, laughing, cuddling, singing and I listened as he tried to resolve the struggles we all face on a daily basis.

 

I remember having a crush on him back in the early 90s.  At Billy Beams he came on the microphone and called me out of the crowd to sing with him.  I was so nervous but excited.  We sang Yahweh and it was such a wonderful feeling to be singing with such a great songwriter and friend.

 

This is us.

 

http://oddiments.com/WuyekArtGallery/Raccon/Copy_of_817230_R1_03_8aa

 

I will miss the song bird and all of the joy and love that he brought to our campfires.

 

Bessy and Robin - I knew you two more then the rest of the family and I am truly sorry that he is gone.  I wish the best for your family.

 

Raccoon - I will see you in another life.  Keep smiling sweetie.

 

 

Lee Davidson

 

 

From: debilee

Received: November 26, 2006

 

i never met Raccoon in person, but his Rainbow Warrior tape found it’s way to me during a Georgia waterfall journey back in 1989 and his songs have lived in me ever since ... i later wrote to him and got a copy of Road Kill along with a sweet note ... i was just searching the web to see if i could find his music on CD to accommodate modern technology and found your site ...  even without ever meeting him, his spirit touched my own and filled my heart, along with many others i am sure ... i have no words to describe the sense of communion in listening to him sing his songs ... like you say, it seemed as if he saw home elsewhere and that he was one of those sacred beings here for a short while to help others on their way ... my blessings to all who knew and loved him

 

debilee

billie swamp safari

seminole tribe of florida

863-983-6101

extension 111

 

 

From: Bill Ford

Received: November 30, 2006

 

Hey John, I read this on the web site and it brought back a memory. 

 

Quote from the Raccoonsongs web site: “You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose but you can’t pick your friend’s nose!”

Raccoon’s words of wisdom to John and Lori’s on their Wedding Video of 9/19/03 in Linden.

 

It was at one of Bill Yeager’s Halloween parties in Centerville in the mid ‘90’s and we had hired my fathers band, “The New Mode Grass” to play in the afternoon before we played that evening.  Raccoon was playing acoustic music in the Jam Studio where we had bands play at parties.  My dad showed up with is band about 3:00PM and started to set up.  Some guy was drunk and being very loud and obnoxious (my kind of people :-) but he was annoying Raccoon who was trying to play while the band set up.  Raccoon asked him to kindly chill out several times and the guy kept on so finally Raccoon said to my father, “I just can’t seem to get through to some people” and my dad answered, “Well, you know you can pick your friends, or you can pick your nose; but you can’t pick your friends nose.”  This brought out a hearty laugh from everyone including Raccoon.

 

The moral of that saying is, you can choose who you hang out with, and you can clean up your act; however, you can not clean up the act of the people you choose to hang out with.  My dad said this line to me many times when I was young so I learned the moral early on.  Later that evening, after my dad’s band had left, Raccoon came to me and said, “Bill, your dad is really cool …seriously.”  That made me feel really good; that someone I held in as high regard as Raccoon thought my dad (another person I held in the most high regard) was cool. 

 

My dad passed away in 1997 and I still miss him like he just left us.  I miss Raccoon too, and I hope that somewhere out there, there is a place where Raccoon and my dad are playing music together.  Of course, Raccoon will have to tighten up on his Bluegrass :-)

 

Bill Ford

 

 

From: Carrie DeMott

Received: December 1, 2006

 

After so many years I was compelled to do an internet search to see if I could find any Raccoon CDs - it has been a long time - and discovered his passing.  I am so saddened. Thank you so much for posting this tribute.  Raccoon and I parted ways in 93, as life tends to put folks on different paths. 

 

He was an inspiration to many, if not himself. 

 

I attended his father's service at the orchard and am glad that he was able to be put to rest with his family, no doubt to old songs sung by everyone.  He always knew he would come home. 

 

Having tons of pictures in storage, when I am able to get to Virginia I will scan them and send them to you.  The Linden Days are some of my favorite memories.  Big and Little John's apartment and playing in the playground.

 

Raccoon helped me pick out the college I went to.  That might surprise some folks.  He was very supportive even though it hurt him to send me on my way. 

 

I wanted to send my sympathy to all of his friends and family.

 

Carrie DeMott

 

 

 *** YOUR THOUGHTS GO HERE ***

 

 

Peter Zoernig’s Raccoon Stories.

Some great things people had to say about Raccoon that were posted elsewhere on the web.

The Shades website has some more kind words about Raccoon.

John’s Fuzzy Raccoon Memories.

 

 

 

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