by Dave Fry
How does one define Space? It has no boundaries, to begin with.
We lost our immediate personification of Space when we lost our own Mike Space this week, who passed in his sleep in his new home in the Caribbean. He was recreating another chapter in his active and creative life with his soul mate Judi Space, off on the island paradise of Vieques.
When Mike and Judi moved up to the Lehigh Valley from Philly, he brought with him his love of folk music, art, good food and general large living, along with his hands-on skills as a mechanic. And it was his love of getting under the hood that made him invaluable as he began his career as a folk-music promoter, sound man, and radio DJ.
Personally, he was the right man for the big job of Artistic Director at Godfrey’s when he took over for me when, in 2000, I stepped away and resettled in CT with my family after 25 years on the job. It was important for me and for the club to trust in someone who recognized the continuity necessary, and could take the club in new directions. Mike did that in spades, brought back the favorites and, importantly, introduced new artists to our stage, folks who shared his sense of humor and arcane entertainment tastes.
He and Judi also opened their home Space Mountain to traveling musicians, including myself, returning to the Lehigh Valley for gigs. We were always grateful for their graciousness and hospitality and for the stimulating conversations over their communal table. Mike also expanded on this concept with a series of amazing house concerts, extending this hospitality to neighbors and friends. The 2014 Spring series he lined up is amazing, and bears his signature.
Mike Space used his expansive musical knowledge as he became involved with WDIY and public radio. He was there in the beginnings of Live From Godfrey Daniels, an important way of getting folks “in the door” at the club, introducing Lehigh Valley ears to the magic that happens at our live shows. And then he hosted The Blend, the afternoon potpourri of contemporary Americana, rare gems from our hippie past and various other cultural curiosities. He owned his show and folks came to cherish his Tuesday afternoon explorations and sly commentaries.
Mike also put in the long hours and hard labor as a volunteer at the Philly Folk Festival, doing what had to be done to set up and break down this huge event, while enjoying the behind-the-scenes community of Festers who gather each year to stage this internationally recognized celebration of Folk Music.
Mike was a man who smiled, laughed, pitched in and created, always with open arms and an open heart. We are proud to have been in his presence all these years, and the folk music community at large will miss his spirit and humor. I’m sure he is setting up house concerts on the other side of the Pearly Gates, doing sound, emceeing, and welcoming friends and musicians to sit a spell and celebrate our community with some of the finest in Folk Music.
The last three photos are courtesy of Joe Cassano.