Friday, February 9, 2018

Community Loses John Bushey, Much Loved Host of KUMD's Dylan Program, Highway 61 Revisited

John Bushey in the John Bushey Highway 61 Revisited Studio ar KUMD
Teacher, Dylanologist (which he continuously denied the way Dylan bristled about being the Voice of a Generation), and a nationally recognized magician whose speciality had been escape arts, our dear friend John Bushey was unable to escape his last challenge and finally succumbed to cancer last night. He will be deeply missed.

In addition to being a pro Dylan buff, John did more than entertain. He was a collector as well. An enormous fan of Harry Houdini, he began collecting memorabilia related to escape artists at the age of ten and has continued to this day so that he built one of the largest collections of handcuffs and gadgetry pertaining to escapology in the country. We're talking hundreds of handcuffs of all styles.

The mic in what was formerly Studio B.
Bushey has been one of the forces behind the Duluth Dylan Fest here in the North Country. Even when he was weakened from his many battles with cancer over the past decade, his will and resolve were strong. This was especially apparent last year when in January doctors said he had two weeks to two months to live, John not only made it to the weeklong May celebration, he attended every event.

One of the great features of his show Highway 61 Revisited was John's tireless effort to find rare tracks of Dylan music from obscure sources including outtakes and unreleased recordings that you won't hear anywhere else. Dylan fans would send tapes from all over the world, which John would perpetually scour in search of "the good stuff" for his listeners. His devotion to this effort, as far as I know, was unmatched anywhere.

Mayor Emily Larson celebrates re-naming of Studio B

Looking through the glass from my mic to John and his, live and on the air earlier this year.
There's a Dylan line for nearly any situation, and even in the midst of his suffering John and I shared some laughs together. Last fall I needed his help to get a door unlocked, and in exchange for my driving him to the pharmacy to get something he needed he came out with me accompanied by his lock-picking tools to unlock the door. While he was helping me the line from "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts" popped into my head: "She was looking to do just one more good deed before she died." I shared that and we laughed.

One of John's favorite songs these past months has been "Not Dark Yet" which begins this way:

Shadows are falling and I’ve been here all day 
It’s too hot to sleep, time is running away 
Feel like my soul has turned into steel 
I’ve still got the scars that the sun didn’t heal 
There’s not even room enough to be anywhere 
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there

* * * *
As all who knew him well will attest, there has never been anyone quite like John. He filled a unique spot in our universe, and will be missed. Roll on, John. 

DNT 2017, Studio B at KUMD consecrated with a new name.


Anonymous said...

Nice story in today's DNT, too.

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